Who is the best pole dancer in the world?

No one. Just you, dear reader.

Do you wish your pole dance partner would stop pulling your hair? Perhaps you should.

And what about when your partner pulls your hair to the point where it hurts? Again, no one.

And what about when the dance becomes all-over-body? Again, no one ever.

It should be clear from these examples that we can easily have a difficult conversation about how to communicate about physical boundaries. The “right way to handle a tug of war” that one person uses to demonstrate that a tug of war isn’t happening is not the correct way to convey how to handle a tug of war for another person. That is, I cannot tell you what to do. That is, you cannot know what to do. Not everyone is going to be the same. However, I can provide some guidelines to show some ways to communicate about boundaries when you see a tug of war.

1. Speak up:

If you are the one in the pole dance class, ask that you be allowed to say something to someone else, even something as small as, “Hey, what’s up with this tug of war?”

If you are the other person in the pole dance class, offer a few words of encouragement, not a request for another person.

If you are the person in the pole dance class, ask for permission to ask someone for an explanation of the behavior. Your body is yours. You are free to say no, to stand up, or to stop what you are doing. Or you can acknowledge it and ask for forgiveness.

2. Help:

If someone is tugging you or someone else, try to help out. If they are doing it accidentally or because they are drunk or otherwise stupid, tell them to stop. That is not a sign of aggression.

If a member of your class is being pulled on by a person who is much bigger than you, grab them. Don’t fight back; if you’re larger than them, they can drag you into the class. If you are in the middle of the class, go with them to the back of the class rather than dragging them with you. You are helping them to figure out the best way to handle what is happening.

Try to be an example. Make yourself a friend if you can.

If someone pulls your hair, stop it. If someone has stopped and they are still pulling on you, stand up and walk