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What is "sensual hard"?

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

You might have seen this new class on the Calmness Hotline schedule : Sensual Hard. It seems like the term might be a little vague for some people, so we thought why not write an article about how we decided to give it this title and what's the difference with other Sensual classes that are offered.



Back in 2020, when most of the world was confined at home and spending a lot of time on social media, multiple awareness movements started. Black Lives Matter being probably the biggest of them all, with the death of George Floyd and the manifestations that followed, all of a sudden we had a lot more time to aknowledge and identify problematic behavior that we have assimilated and transmitted by default.


That's when a discussion around the term 'exotic' began in the pole world. All of a sudden, white (mostly north-american) pole dancers were faced with the discrimination weight that this word holds. A word that had been used in so many forms, from classes titles to competitions name. I honestly always thought it was a little odd to use this term to describe a type of dance, but I used to say it because that was what everybody said. Pleading guilty.


I will list some sources at the end of this article if you want to know more about this problematic in details, but here is a rough summary if you have no idea what I'm talking about : the word 'exotic' in its litteral definition means 'foreign', as in a foreign piece of clothing or home decoration. For centuries, the word has been used as an adejctive for people (women) of different origins as a way of outing them from the "normality".


Then the russian pole dancers started using the word 'exotic' to refer to a style of dance that was focused on sensuality and flexibility. At a place where Russian women aren't allowed to dive into their sexuality and can't speak out about their own body, "exotic dance" was their way of hiding what was really happening in the pole studio and giving them a safe space to express themselves. Eventually, 'Russian Exotic' became a style of dance on its own, the moves and body lines being very distingtive. And that is where it gets tricky.


At the beginning of 2021, more and more pole dancers became vocal about the problematics behind using the word 'exotic' when we mean 'sexy'. It puts black, indigineous and people of color in this weird box of you look exotic therefore you are sexy. And obviously this way of thinking is sustained by the patriarchy of our society, making non-whiteness a good enough reason to be fetished and sexualized without consent.


But then, how do we change what the pole industry made a signature style without loosing adepts that don't want to get political? I think at this point, every pole studio, every coach and competition asked themselves this question. What word can we use that won't cause any harm, but is also relevant in a pole environment? There isn't yet a perfect answer to this question, everyone is kind of finding their own way around it, some completely ignoring the issue because it's been marketed that way forever, others still defining what makes their style of dance different than others.


The word 'erotic' is sometimes used, but it has this sexually charged interpretation that can scare off some people. Once again, it brings us back to patriarchy; something or someone would be classified as erotic because it pleases the sexual desire of men. And pole dancing as a sport is first and foremost a way for women -or gender identities that aren't cis(heterosexual)men- to escape the male gaze and enjoy one's own body, including of course sensuality and feminine strenght.



When Margaux decided to had this 'hard style' class to the studio's program, the question was raised : how are we gonna name it? What name would be precise enough to differenciate it from the Sensual Flow class that already exists, and also making sure everybody understands what it is wihtout being offensive in any way?


So she came up with the name Sensual Hard. Sensuality doesn't always have to do with being sexual - it calls for listening to your senses, get in touch with your body, how it wants to move and how you can connect to yourself on different levels. And the 'hard' part means that it's high energy and very in your face. In this class you're gonna learn more energetic tricks like kips and drops. The music is more upbeat with a bad bitch attitude.


Sensual Hard is about being unafraid and not letting anyone tell you who or what to be, where Sensual Flow will have you slowly get in touch with movement and let flowy melodies guide you throught floorwork and lower pole tricks.


Do you have more questions about our different Sensual classes?

Are you more of a Flow or Hard dancer? I know I'm both depending on how I feel!


Sources :

correct definition of the word "exotic" and why it is offensive: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLkPRk0FHNu/

usage of "exotic" and "erotic" as a way to erase sexworkers: https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/magazine/21wwln_safire.html

history of the word "exotic": https://www.instagram.com/p/CLuX41nrr92/

'exotic' is problematic in all spheres of society: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-issue-with-exotic-beauty-compliments


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