Tuesday, March 23, 2010
For more on these excellent all sport/ all season helmets click here. for a full review.
Monday, March 22, 2010
March 19th, 2010 marked the second annual U.S. Pole Dance Federation Championship in New York City. Competitive gymnast and pole dancer Alethea Austin of California took home the grand prize winning $5000, the opportunity to perform in Australia, a Pole Skivvies gift certificate, a gift bag, make-up and more. Mina, also from California, won the amateur division, earning her 'pro card' to compete in the pro division of future USPDF competitions. Both ladies were finalists in my Pole Superstar 2009 competition -- watch their videos here: Mina, Alethea. The top five USPDF winners will be sent to America's Got Talent for producer's consideration.
The USPDF, founded and run by Wendy Traskos and Anna Grundstrom, held preliminary competitions in the past year to determine their twelve pro division finalists. Amateur division finalists were selected by video submissions prior to the competition. Friday's competition required both amateur and pro division finalists to participate in a 60-90 second compulsory round where the women must perform various maneuvers including 20 seconds of continuous floor work, two spins, one upright static pose, one inversion, one inner thigh hold, one split, and more. The finalists wear shorts and sports bras for this round. For their final performance, the women can participate in an optional round with no requirements where they can get more creative with their performances. Some highlights of this round included a ballerina-turned-pole-dancer and a handcuffed pole routine.
The compulsory round is reminiscent of gymnastic floor routine competitions -- something you might see in the Olympics. So with all the recent hype surrounding various pole dance organizations' efforts to get pole dance approved as an Olympic sport, I asked Grundstrom if this was a goal for the USPDF. She said there are other ways for pole dance to gain world acceptance such as credible competitions. Looking into the future of USPDF, Grundstrom says the organization would like to continue to set standards and guidelines for competitions and push pole dance as a competitive sport and credible art form. They would like to expand the pro division and host several national competitions each year.
In conjunction with the USPDF's competitive events, they also host workshops and panel discussions. This weekend's workshops featured classes from Australia's top pole dancer Allegra, USPDF judge Brook Notary and current winner Alethea Austin.
Visit www.uspdf.com for more information on the organization.
Follow Diane Passage on Twitter: www.twitter.com/HotTubGoddess
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
As some of you may know, I have been on a mini velo binge for the last couple of months after I sold my mountain bike and cyclo-cross bike and purchased a Cannondale Hooligan which I have been slowly customizing. As some others of you may know, I have a background in plants and agriculture from years in the landscape biz so the idea of using bamboo to make frames is in intriguing to me.
Calffee Has makes some of the cleanest bamboo bikes and this adaptation of an Alex Moulton space frame design seems to be a natural application of the material. (Smaller tubes creating multiple smaller triangles)
Check out this bottom bracket that manages to simultaneously be both vegan and beefy.
Kimora from Japan had another variation on the Moulton style space frame. They also make a track bike and a quasi-mt bikeHere is a close-up of the stem showing the front suspension injection port, which looks a bit dangerous placement wise; one feature I really did not like on this bike.
They also had a number of really nice parts especially these curvaceous stems.
Brew Bikes also had a dual suspension mini folder where the back triangle flips under the rest of the bike on a pivot at the bottom bracket.
Velo Orange had a some sweet randonneurs.
They also make some parts like these TA style cranks and...
These gorgeous hammered fenders/mudguard/wheelbrows in the Rivendell style.
Igelhart was there with some fine examples out of New England This (stainless?) urban cross bike features a Yo Eddy style fork that harkens back to Igelharts earlier days as a welder for Fat Chance.
Alchemy showed this bike.
I especially liked the organic shaped lugs.
I didn't get a full shot of this bike. Speedvagen is the brand name adopted by Vanilla Cycles to represent their collabo's with other frame builders; in this case Pegoretti.
Note the paint job, cut dropouts and beautiful fillet brazing
as well as this seatpost arrangement that I saw on several bikes. It makes a lot of sense because it greatly reduces the chances of water entering the frame and moves the stress area of the bolt away from the frame. The disadvantage is that it is far less adjustable.
Cheribum made this road bike for the show.
It had a reach down (as opposed to reach around) front derailleur...
...and this saddle. If I could have anything from the show it would be this!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Diane Passage at the Imperial during the last Pole Superstar event. Diane is the woman behind Pole Superstar.
Ariel working on her moves at the PoleRiders clubhouse.
Starring Ariel from Poleriders!, Diane Passage, Lauren Goldstein & Ryssa.
Featuring Mai Yee, Michelle Stanek & SKATE.Michelle Stanek
Pre-sale tickets are $35 for general admission and $65 for VIP seating. Door prices are $40 GA, $70 VIP. Call 212-213-8020 or visit www.polesuperstar.com to purchase tickets or for more information.
Photo of Ariel by Ellen Stagg.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Originally posted at The Pole Story
MSNBC recently posted an article in their “Weird News” section about the possibility of Pole Dancing becoming an Olympic sport. There have subsequently been a number of other news sites, blogs, and websites that have reposted this article and it has generated quite a buzz. The article was interesting enough, but the comments were what really fascinated me. After having read hundreds of comments on dozens of different websites (and commenting a bit myself) I think the public’s reaction to pole dancing becoming an Olympic Sport falls under a few different categories. One popular response was to ridicule the idea, based either on a lack of knowledge for how much athleticism pole dancing actually requires, or based on the exclusion of other sports (i.e. cricket’s not a sport, why should pole dancing be a sport?). Another common response was to immediately confuse what happens in a pole dance competition with what happens in a club thereby resulting in snarky comments about judges shoving medals into dancer’s thongs. A few applauded the idea, citing the hard work it takes and making comparisons to gymnastics, etc. However, the overall response was negative and the negativity, in my opinion, stemmed from our culture’s overall discomfort with overt displays of female sexuality. One commenter actually said that it would be fine to have pole dancing as an Olympic sport as long as it was stripped (haha) of every sexual overtone. Um, ok.
Let me be frank and straightforward for a moment here. I know absolutely nothing about what it takes to qualify as an Olympic sport. In fact, I know very little about sports, period. I have never danced competitively and it does not interest me to do so. I dance because it connects me a deeply feminine, sexual part of my self. I dance because it feels good in my body. The fact that it gets me fit is just a bonus. So I’m not really sure how important it is to me personally that pole dancing gain Olympic standing. With that said, I support the women who feel that it is important, and, I think that this very public push has done something excellent for the pole dancing community, which is to put pole in the public spotlight. And pole dancing, because of it’s sensual and erotic roots, holds up a mirror to our culture’s sex phobia.
The overall response from the general public reflects a real discomfort with women dancing sensually and evoking the erotic. Whether this discomfort is reflected by third-grade comments about women taking their clothes off (nudity! yeah!) or flat out misogyny from both men AND women (those skanky whores need to find a real job!) the message is that we have a long way to go before people begin to accept that an erotic, sensual expression of the female body is worthy of respect. Pole dancing is, and hopefully always will be, a sensual form of movement, and I think that is why most people balk at it being in the Olympics. Because in our culture, rather than celebrating the sensuality of the female body, we censor it and we shame it and we denigrate it. If we could change how we view a woman who chooses to celebrate her sensuality through dance, if we could look at this movement as a celebration of the female body, of its innate sensuality, of its sexual power and beauty, then maybe pole dancing, and even stripping could be integrated into the mainstream and viewed as a practice that is worthy of respect.So I want to know what you, the pole dancers think. Should it pole dancing become an Olympic Sport? Why? Should we sacrifice the sexiness for mainstream recognition? Do you think if our culture were more sex-positive, the perspective on pole dancing would shift? Is it possible for stripping and pole dancing to gain the respect of the general public as a legitimate sensual expression of female sexuality and power?
Monday, March 1, 2010
I will begin with the Snoots snow bike from Moots which features custom painted Large Marge Rims with Endomorph 3.7" tires mounted to an impeccable titanium frame. Moots is an old company out of Steamboat Springs CO. that began making bolt on rack mounts in the 80's and has been welding titanium frames for many years.
Banjo Bikes owned by Ahren Rogers in Madison WI used the same tire/rim setup on a more utilitarian work bike that had the character of an old loved pickup.
Note the handmade, laminated fenders/mudguards/wheelbrows and bottle cages made in house as well as the extraordinary hand tooled custom leather Brooks Saddle made by artisan Kara Ginther.
The suit on the left told me that the large tires provide a degree of flotation in deep water and snow.
A little further down the aisle the folks at Kish were also strumming a 5 string. Kish makes super clean titanium frames.
Pictured is a safety orange ti single speed cruiser featuring Paul brakes, Paragon dropouts and a Fat Chance Yo Eddy style fork.
The dropouts and the fork are exactly what I would choose if I were in the market for a mt bike. I love the clean lines and simplicity of this frame.
While I can fully appreciate it, I dont generally care for the look of super fancy ornate lug work on a modern bicycle. I do however like it when a builder creates traditional lugs with a slick look and clean fastback stays such as these. Also check out the mitered bridge which was a nice detail.
Check out this beautiful 29er titanium machine from Engin which also incorporates a Yo Eddy fork.
Black Cat Bicycles has a well designed adjustable dropout that they make and use on this bike. The lugs are difficult to see in the image but they had some nice modern looking cuts. I am not generally drawn to bikes with curved tubes, but sometimes, as in the case of a Schwinn beach cruiser, an old Raleigh Camelback, or this bike, it just works visually. Even the stem has a slight downward curve that nicely follows the line of the top tube.
Seven Cycles offered to build me a titanium PoleRider trike. My guess is that It would probably cost as much as a new car. Not much to say about these, other than they are other than they are exquisitely made race bikes. You cant go wrong with Seven and if you ride one you will be the envy of Serotta riding dentists everywhere.
What I really liked was this bar and cable routing arrangement on their road bike.
These new brake levers seen on a number of bikes at the show seem to make a lot of sense but in practice I found the ergonomics were off. The action a bit awkward because my index finger did not pull the the lever in a natural direction. It's hard to describe but I would not recommend these levers in their current incarnation.
Groovy Cycles known for their paint work had a similar bar in a psychedelic pattern.
They also had a nice adaptation of a classic old school cruiser in 29" with a nice triple stack fork.
Ted Wojcik is a frame builder from way back in the day (I first met him at Interbike when it was still in Philly) with a strong form follows function philosophy. He builds beautiful mountain bike frames primarily and had this pedal powered recumbent 5 wheel rider mower at the show.
Another interesting show bike was from Ground-Up and featured a flame thrower to keep people off your back wheel.
Here you can see the details and a small photo of the bike in action (on the rear axle)
Right about the time that I had worked up a powerful thirst I glanced over to the Rapha booth and saw this gleaming cooler beckoning me like a great Monolith.
When I got closer I discovered it was merely a sham. They did however have plenty of expensive cycling clothing for sale. More to come in part 2.