Sam Kirli has worked in the entertainment industry all her life starting out with appearing in several episodes of “Grange Hill” while still at school. She has also appeared in several rock bands including “Doctor and the Medics” who had a worldwide number 1 with “Spirit in the Sky”, presented on TV, modelled as a Page 3 girl, and danced at several of London’s top strip venues. There she soon developed a reputation as one of the best pole dancers on the circuit and more recently she has set up and run her own pole dancing/burlesque school “ Shake n Swing” in purpose converted premises in North London. I caught up with Sam the other day to discuss her career and her current venture.
Tyke. When and how did you start out stripping.
Sam. It was the late 90s, working in acting or being in a band gives very erratic earnings so I needed something more reliable to pay the bills. I first started doing modelling and became a “Page 3” girl, I got a lot of work with the Sunday Sport and then Alan Whitehead started up the “Sunday Sport Roadshow” which featured well known models stripping off live. I enjoyed the performance side and having done these shows for a while started looking for other work.
Tyke. Where in London did you work?
Sam. I started in the strip pubs with Rainbow, then worked at Metropolis for 5 years then finally at Spearmint Rhino Tottenham Court Rd. As you can see the venues got progressively plusher and Spearmint had not been open long then and was very busy.
Pole dancing skill
Tyke. How did the pole dancing skill develop?
Sam. At that time hardly any of the pubs had poles but at Metropolis there was a great one 2 stories high and I really learnt my technique on that one. I got some great costumes and when I moved to Spearmint I did my own stage show as a feature which was very satisfying.
Tyke. Why did you stop?
Sam. I felt the men we were dealing with were getting worse and more grabby and I wanted to move on anyway. I was unhappy and got drunk one night and they fired me which forced my hand. I went back to the club though quite recently and they not only remembered me but treated me like royalty.
Tyke. How did you get into teaching?
Sam. A group called Polestars wanted me to instruct for them. They only had 2 poles and so it was impossible to keep everybody in the class involved so I thought I could do better. I set up my own school “Shake and Swing” in October 2002, based in North London and has 6 poles in 2 separate areas. Pole dancing was really just taking off then and there were hardly any proper courses available so it did very well from day 1. There are a lot more places now as pole dancing has become more mainstream and lots of celebs have started buying poles for their houses. As I was one of the first to move into this field I have had quite a bit of media attention and been asked to judge in several pole dancing competitions and the like.
Tyke. Who are your main customers?
Sam. We get a lot of media women, city bankers, lawyers etc who do courses in the evening, they want pole dancing as a form of exercise and also because it makes them feel sexy. They are very busy people so can only come in the evening and we do a 6 week course to teach them all the tricks, then they usually buy their own pole for home use. Then there are hen parties where we usually combine some pole lessons with a meal at the gastro pub across the road. The Burlesque courses are a more recent addition as women like Dita Von Tease and Immodesty Blaize have made it very fashionable at the moment, it’s a sort of parody of stripping with lots of tease and not much nudity. It can be very good for a women’s self confidence and spice up their sex life, it’s very popular with groups of women who want to try something different. I teach the full range from fan dancing to tassle twirling!
Tyke. What about professional strippers?
Sam. I would like to do more work with girls either new to the industry or those who want to become better on the pole or in general performance on a 1 to 1 basis. I know from my time in the clubs that it’s difficult to learn new things when everything you do is being watched. I will hire out the facilities for an hourly rate if they just want to practise on their own or I can help and advise them. I have worked as a stripper in London for many years in a range of places and know what will work and what’s required. If I was starting out from scratch as a stripper in London now I would take advice and instruction from someone like me as it would save a lot of time leaning the hard way
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