MEET THE POLECON OWNER COLLEEN JOLLY
Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about PoleCon, some of the exciting workshops held there and why you should go. Now it’s time for you to meet the enthusiastic aerialist, Colleen Jolly, who is putting the whole event together. The 33 year-old DC resident wears many hats including running visual communications firm 24hrco, owning a Pole Pressure Studio and sitting on the board of a professional association. She took some time out from her busy schedule to explain why PoleCon is so important to her and how she became a super woman on and off the pole.
How did you get into pole dance?
A friend of mine saw an ad for it in 2011 and thought it would be fun. We went to our first class and she wasn’t so bad. I on the other hand, was terrible! I couldn’t hold on to the pole (I’ve always had very weak grip strength) and had so many bruises the next day!
This is your first year as the new PoleCon owner. How did the ownership change come about?
I own a Pole Pressure, which is a licensed pole studio concept run by Jessalynn Medairy who also was the founder of PoleCon. She decided that her life was getting fuller by the minute helping women open new Pole Pressures—we went from two locations one year to more than 10 the next—and she was ready to move on from PoleCon. I jumped at the chance to take over the event.
Had you been involved with PoleCon at all before you started running the event?
I attended the 2013 PoleCon in West Palm Beach and performed in our studio troupe. I wound up helping pole clean for most of the weekend and got to see a lot of the backstage action. I always feel better working or hosting an event, then just attending—I never know what to do with myself if I’m not working =)
Why was it so important for you to see PoleCon continue to grow?
I’m amazed by this sport/hobby/art/lifestyle – whatever you want to call it! I can’t believe how much it keeps growing and changing with everyone that touches it.
I wasn’t athletic at all before pole and unfortunately like many women, I had (and am still working through) some body issues. I was seriously anorexic in high school and then in college. In my relationship directly after college I gained a lot of weight. I didn’t understand how to eat or how to exercise so instead of figuring things out, I just hated myself.
Until pole, I was always trying some sort of diet or gimmick to try to lose weight and I hated to workout. With pole, I’ve found something that keeps me grounded and doesn’t feel like exercise – it’s just fun and suddenly I’m fit and feeling more at home in my body than ever before. I want to help other women and men find a way to be happy and healthy and express themselves, too. That’s why I want the entire pole industry to grow and be as diverse as possible so that everyone can find a way to connect.
You have put together a diverse group of pole dancers and aerial artists across a number of genres. How much work goes into arranging an event this size? Did you have help?
It’s a lot of work! Fortunately managing logistics, sales and marketing are all strong suits of mine. What’s not is accounting! I’ve got a small team of volunteers working with me before the event and a small army helping during the event. Mostly I’m working all the time so that this will be the best event possible.
What was your biggest challenge in organizing PoleCon this year?
Ah, do I have to pick only one?! =) The biggest challenge is definitely anticipation. When PoleCon is actually here I know it’ll go by in the blink of an eye, but the waiting is killing me!
How did you choose which workshops to hold and which instructors to host?
I wanted to provide as diverse a group as possible by having instructors that represent different styles within pole. I also wanted to have a balanced amount of workshops so that everyone from the newbie to the pro could find something to love.
We know you’re a pole dancer. That’s obvious! Do you practice any other forms of aerial arts? Any other sports?
Haha – thanks! I have a lot of fun with pole and post my successes and some of my goofier moments to my Instagram @colleenjolly. I do classic weight training at least once a week and I have taken some lyra classes. I’d like to get more into contortion training and rocket yoga.
If you had any kids, would you allow them to pole dance?
I have two furry babies, my orange tabbies Connor and Murphy. I grew up without a lot of money and watched my friends take dance classes that we could never hope to afford. I got into sports in high school only because a friend of mine’s parents footed the equipment bill and we were really bad so they basically took everyone that signed up!
My husband comes from a more middle class upbringing and his exposure to sports, clubs, music and other activities and lessons as a child really helped in him later in life. I will absolutely encourage my kids—if we ever get around to that—to explore dance, music, visual arts, sports, other languages and anything else they can get their hands on to see what feeds their souls.
I have absolutely no issue with kids and pole. We had some friends visit us who had two small children—a girl and a boy—and they were so excited about my pole, which is in our kitchen. To make sure they were safe, I asked their parents if I could teach them and they took to it like little monkeys—climbing up to the top of the pole, doing head stands and spins and watching me do flexibility tricks which are my favorite. The pole was just a toy to them; it didn’t hold any special meaning. The next morning the little girl woke up and asked her mom to style her hair like mine because she wanted to be just like me. I was overwhelmed that sharing something simple but something that I loved with these kids could have such a profound impact on them. I believe there is a place for sexy pole, sport pole, kid pole, theatre pole, pole comedy (my personal favorite) and everything in between. It’s just a metal pole, how we interact with it gives it meaning.
PoleCon travels to a different city every year. Can we get a sneak peek as to where it might be next year? Or have you even thought about that yet?
Oh, yes—we’ve been planning! I can’t give away any secrets yet but I promise that we’ll be announcing it during this year’s PoleCon.
What is the first thing you’re going to do after PoleCon ends?
I will probably sleep. Hopefully I’ll remember to thank all the wonderful people who have contributed to PoleCon’s success before I do that.