I spent my Independence Day holiday watching the US Air Guitar Mega Qualifier. If you have no idea what that is, don’t worry. I didn’t either. Basically, it’s just like it sounds except more intense- it’s a bunch of people pretending to be rock stars and faking guitar playing by strumming thin air as music plays in the background. Competitors are judged on technical merit, mimesmanship, stage presence, and airness (which is something like presentation).
Aside from being really, really fun to watch, I took home a lot of ideas about how to make my pole performances stronger. In no particular order:
- Really, really build your character for a performance. Every single competitor there built a strong, believable character. When there were delays for the music to start, everyone stayed in character. After the performance, while they waited for the judges to actually judge them, they still stayed in character. It made for a good audience experience. I’ve always focused on the story for pole dancing, but after seeing this I would like to spend more time thinking about and adding to my character.
- Gimmicks work. “If there’s anything air guitar is besides fucking dumb, it’s fucking gimmicky,” one of the judges quipped during the show. And he was right. One girl performed to “Yellow Submarine” and dressed up as a yellow submarine, complete with flippers. It was wildly popular. Almost everyone had some sort of gimmick, and because they used the gimmicks in conjunction with their characters and performance, it worked.
- In lieu of gimmicks, solid stage presence works too. This one is a relief, because my personality is not really compatible with gimmicks. One of the competitors came up in regular clothes and still put on an awesome performance. She did have a sparkly shirt though- sparkles never hurt.
- Make your costume and props work for you. Although this is similar to some ideas I mentioned above, it warrants it’s own mention. Not only did the props fit the characters, they also fit the songs. In some cases, costume was an active part of the performance. I hope to be more mindful of my costumes in the future because the air guitarists rocked the wardrobe.
- Use your space. I think that many pole competitions judge in part about how well you use all of the stage space. The air guitarists didn’t have to use both vertical and horizontal space, but they still moved around purposefully and utilized the whole stage. Using the whole stage made the performances more compelling.
- Take yourself seriously. While the antics of the performers were hilarious, no one broke character to join in the laughing and merriment.
- It’s OK to do stupid things for your hobbies. If people travel from New York to Denver to compete in air guitar, then I don’t feel bad wanting to do the reverse for pole. If it makes you happy and moves you closer to your goals, do it!