Today is pole upgrade day! This means that the original 10 poles at the Appleton studio are being removed and replaced with brand new competition grade Lupit’s. And I’m all kinds of emotional about it.

When we opened the Appleton studio there were very few pole manufacture options and even less that would ship a single piece pole. I knew that for studio use I wanted a single piece, because one metal tube means less points of failure. That is critical to me, less ways for something to go wrong. So we went with Platinum Stages which at the time was the best option. There was no such thing as a lined pole at the time. The pole was a single tube of stainless steel. Back then, remember the most crazy trick was a Jade; no one was doing fonji or flips or doubles. The poles were static to spin via a pin and that was the option.

Installing was a whole new world. There weren’t directions. You were just sent parts and had to figure it out. We hired contractors to install (thanks Dave & Jim) and they did an epic job that took three days and a lot of cursing. They installed a 1/4 inch steel plate across three ceiling beams then put bolts from the top down and secured so even if the nut was loose the pole couldn’t go anywhere.

The maintenance on the original poles was a PAIN. There was zero adjustability in the design (a major design flaw) so when the snow load and temperatures changed I would climb into the ceiling and adjust the top attachment height with washers to keep them within saftey specs. This mean sticking my hand into the actual ceiling (after climbing into the drop ceiling), through a little hole in the drywall to release the bolt, then sliding in spacers, then reinserting and tightening. It SUCKED. Pole 5 (the middle, most used pole after Pole 2 the Instructor Pole) had the access panel right next to a ceiling joist so breaking my wrist was the necessity to get over the joist to the bolts. (I didn’t think to cut a new access panel hole for YEARS…lol) And of course it was Pole 5, that hardest to access, that needed the most adjustments!

Poor pole installer trying to remove the base that is epoxied in!

The design of the original bases had a single bolt. As the tricks got harder, that mean bases would rotate. The single bolt wouldn’t hold in the concrete, especially when we started doing more static. We sheared a bolt clean off at one point (which was shocking but the pole didn’t come down! They were installed that well!!!!) and ended up using a special epoxy on many to keep them in place. This was after trialing every concrete anchor on the market and trying to cement them in. Later we added four screws to even out the load. The original base design sucked. The floor bolt was too tall and actually caught on the bottom of the pole so we had to take down the pole and grind down the bolt from time to time. Not fun times, incase you were wondering.

Safety has ALWAYS been my priority. So checking the poles and performing maintenance was a given. Any time a pole spun funny or made a funny noise or anything I’d call my dad or boyfriend at the time and we’d meet at the studio at 9:35pm at the end of classes to problem solve and check. Our students have no clue how often we checked or how grateful I am to those to men for always coming to help when I asked. No one also knows how many times I sat on the floor of that studio and wept because I was tired and frustrated and didn’t know how to solve the latest thing. But we always solved it. I can say I am a Platinum Poles expert at this point.

Those poles gave us 10 safe years. They had countless dancers and hours. They have bowed over the years and some don’t spin as well. But they never let us down. They did their job. And for that, I am beyond grateful to them. They kept all my women safe. It is hard to see them being removed because they were my start. They were hours of my life in worry and maintenance and hours of joy and growth. Knowing today they will end in a pile of scrap metal to be recycled hurts my heart. I hope they are melted into something really cool. They deserve a second awesome life. I am so grateful for what they did for my company.

As tricks have gotten more explosive and doubles is a big part of our year (hello Annual Show!) it was time to upgrade the poles. I’ll be honest, the idea of spending THOUSANDS of dollars to upgrade when nothing was really wrong was a hard one. Especially after all the loss from covid. But it was time. I knew it was time. Waiting until there was an actual reason would likely mean someone got hurt; that is unacceptable. So three months ago I ordered the Poles from Lupit. After getting lost while shipping for 3.5 weeks (how the actual hell do you LOSE ten TWELVE FOOT objects DHL?!?!?!) our poles arrived last Thursday and are being installed today.

It is exciting to know that with the new poles they are lined and can’t bow. They have quick locking bases for ease of transition from spin to static. They have an allergy free stainless finish. They have a top mount that will adjust with the weather and always have a BIG margin for safety no matter what the ceiling is doing. They are the same as the poles in our GB and Back Studio in Appleton. They are the best technology on the markets. And the students at Aerial Dance deserve the best.