On Saturday 23 February 2019, 5 competitors set off for the South-East Regionals of the Inter University Pole Dancing Competition (IUPDC), hosted by Sussex University. 2019 sees the first year of Cambridge University competing in the South-East Regionals (in previous years we had competed in the Midlands Regionals).
Upon arrival, we were immediately intimidated by the other competitors’ professional demeanour. Their team stash, performance costumes, and incredibly strong, bendy warm-ups left us feeling like lost little lambs. Dead lift hand-stands and putting your feet on your head were made to look effortless! But we all worked incredibly hard to get here and tried to stay calm, and soon enough the competition was underway.
The South-East Regionals had us competing against the University of Hertfordshire, Kings College London, University of East Anglia, Imperial College London, London School of Economics, Royal Holloway University, University College London,
University of Sussex and University of Kent. Throughout the day we were also extremely lucky to see performances by two of the guest judges: Chloe Anderson and Andi Cherry Ariseanu, as well as a guest performance from Luke Wassell!
Luck of the draw had Cambridge competing first in each category, which meant that our beginner, Helen Llambias Maw was the very first competitor of the day. This was Helen’s first competition and she performed to Touch the Sky from Brave, by Julie Fowlis.
Next up in the intermediate category we had Natalie Singhal. She performed a routine to Castle by Halsey. She is not a stranger to stage and competition life and put on a very entertaining show, packed with back-to-back pole moves and incredibly well thought out dance choreography.
After lunch, Cloé Legrand started off the Advanced category. This was her second time competing in IUPDC, where she placed second in the Advanced category in the 2017 Midlands Regionals. An unfortunate music mess-up half way through her performance, had her rerunning her routine later in the category… but it all worked out in the end and she brought home the gold!!!
Four of our ladies got together to compete in the group category: Ruby Coates, Katerina Bielena, Natalie Singhal and Cloé Legrand. They performed a sassy routine to Supermassive Black Hole by Muse. The crowd loved the performance and we were delighted, having never managed to run the routine properly before the competition. To top it off, Cambridge took 3rd place in the group category!!!
The last category of the day was Semi-Professional. This is a new category included this year for the first time. The category was introduced to cater for students who have their teaching qualifications in pole and are paid performers. Cambridge however doesn’t have any “Semi-Pro” students and Katerina Bielena, after just a year and a half of pole, took on the challenge of competing in this ridiculously difficult category. She absolutely smashed it with an emotional routine to Secret Love Song and managed to place 3rd!!!
Overall our team did superb and we are so proud of each and every competitor. This was an incredibly strong regionals to compete in and we rose to the challenge, placing 4th overall! Sadly we won’t be going to Nationals, but we will definitely be there to support the other teams and Liat Adler (founder of CU Pole Society) who will be competing in the semi-Pro category for Edinburgh. Nationals will be hosted by Imperial on the 23rd of March, so listen out for more details if you wish to join us spectating for the day.
Lastly, a huge thank you to Sophie King and Sussex University for putting together this event!!
All photo creds to Laurence Greenway