Sunday, November 29, 2009

Miss Pole Dance 2009

The difference between the gymanst's bar and the dancer's pole is that one is horizontal while the other is vertical. The versatile sport of pole dancing combines striptease-influenced sensual dancing and gymanstic circus acrobatics. Next I'll present videos from three pole traditions - striptease-influenced pole dancing, mallakhamb and Chinese circus.

This is a good combination of acrobatics and striptease influences:
  • At 0:15, she's first doing a split and combining it to striptease-style leg-waving.
  • At 0:32, more split variations follow.
  • At 1:15, she's doing a cartwheel and some handstand walking.
  • At 2:10, leg-waving upside down (!)

Mainly women practise Western pole dancing. In contrast, Chinese pole acrobatics needs so much strength that you only see men doing it. The aesthetics is about quick, explosive transitions and grace instead of cute sensuality.

The Hindi word Mallakhamb means "pole gymanstics". The influence of yoga is visible, when the man puts his leg behind his neck in Sirasana style.

Women do Mallakhamb with ropes.

This last video is from an American pole dancing competition. It is the most striptease-minded, but what I've seen in strip clubs is nothing like this. In theory, I'm all for sexually explicit dancing. In practise, the few times I've gone to strip clubs the strippers have mainly rubbed themselves against the pole and done a few swirls. They rely too much on naked skin. If I want to watch sexy dancing, I'd rather go to some electronic music event, where some girls put effort into dancing well. Wearing stylish clothes enables them to stay in relaxed mood and put up much better show.

In Friday, I was in a pre-Christmas party and Miss Pole Dance 2009 was held next door. I expected something like in these videos, but the overall level was quite low. The venue, Be-pop, was the tackiest nightclub I've seen anywhere. In general, pole dancing in Tampere seems to be about tattooed prole girls doing striptease gestures and basic gymnastics in 15cm tops and 10cm pants.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Satanic mass@Klubi, Tampere

Cavus, Behexen and Mayhem played a gig at Klubi yesterday. It's disturbing how much I liked it. I mean, satanic metal is for the schizos and adolescents who think it's cool to be bad, right?

First, Behexen lit up some candles and started an intense ritual of witchcraft, enchanting the audience under their spell, creating a serene atmosphere to get intoxicated and ponder fundamental questions like Why do I want to live instead of killing myself? or Why doesn't this show just stop in everyone bursting to laugh at it, and are the same tricks used to delude us every day?

Something in the evening created a whole which immersed like nothing before. Maybe it was black metal's fast, monotonic drumwork and its novelty. The dedicated audience. The witchcraft theme taken first to its logical conclusion and then over the top.

Mayhem is a good showcase of what happens when spirituality starts to wag the dog. The band had five members in the beginning of the 90s. One committed suicide, another was murdered by a third band member who went to jail, the fourth one resigned and only the fifth one was left to reinvent the band with new musicians and more professional attitude.

The old band's antics were so batshit crazy that they cross the parody horizon, and then some. Here's Panu's feeble failure to parodize metal:
Zombie Metalissa sun pitää niiku osata olla zombi jo eläessäsi. Zombi on niiku pystyynkuallu ihminen joka kulkee hei sillai niiku ropotti-rops eikä oo niiku missään kontaktissa niiku todellisuuteen. ... Zombiuteen kuuluu vittu että sun pitää olla vittu lähellä kualemaa, niin lähellä ku vaan voit.

One of Mayhem's dead band members was called Dead:
He (Dead) didn't see himself as human; he saw himself as a creature from another world. He said he had many visions that his blood has frozen in his veins, that he was dead. That is the reason he took that name. He knew he would die.

Wow, he could see into the future!

Before the shows, Dead used to bury his clothes into the ground so that they could start to rot and get that "grave" scent. He was a "corpse" on a stage. Once he even asked us to bury him in the ground - he wanted his skin to become pale. During one tour with Mayhem he found a dead crow, which he collected and stored in a plastic bag. He often carried it around with him and would smell the bird before performing, in order to sing "with the stench of death in his nostrils."

Now you may say "But yoga-style new age spirituality is different, because it aims to heal people!" The harmful beliefs of new age spirituality, like homeopaths opposing H1N1 vaccinations, are masked under the veil of healing. Should this mask make large audiences to buy their lies, the lies may cause more damage than the openly repulsive satanists.

Mainstream music is by definition something that you hear from many channels. This familiarity breeds boredom and contempt in me. Nowadays all the good and original stuff is made by bands on the fringe that I've barely heard about. By the way, this good fringe is not just metal, here's a sample of twee by When I Was 12.(Hat tip to 1000 Sparks.)

Hopelessly Romantic Harmonies from Kate Kell on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Liberating the consciousness with yoga

A Finnish couple living in Vancouver used to write a blog named Dragon/Kolibri. Dragon was the male. He wrote rarely but well, mainly about weightlifting. The blog is now offline.

The woman was an active yoga practicioner. She took steps towards becoming a yoga teacher. She also had a mild psychiatric condition and medication for it. The final entries of the blog were about a pang of anorexia nervosa which was decimating her appetite - apparently quite seriously, since her mother flew to Vancouver and the couple stopped blogging. I haven't heard anything about them since.

Yoga has a reputation for attracting superstitious people for some of whom it becomes "religion lite". This emphasis on spirituality and healing is visible also on the web pages of various yoga schools in Tampere.

Tampereen Astangajoogakoulu has a list of moon days in which energy levels are low and practise should be lighter. In other respects they have the best pages. They even list specific asanas for the courses. The elementary groups are guided, while in the last "mysore group" each practicioner trains his own asanas and teachers introduce new ones when the old ones go well.

Om Yoga presents yoga as just another group exercise. I can already exercise in groups at my gym, so thanks but no thanks. They have lots of mild spirituality/energy/healing references dispersed around the pages. Somehow, I find this more scary than Astangajoogakoulu's honest division, where some pages have spiritual tint while others treat yoga as a physical sport.

I'm not freaked by spirituality in itself, but by people who can't identify and reflect their own spirituality enough to turn it off when talking to non-spiritual people. Clear division to between spiritual and physical content sends a message "We are stating these spiritual facts because we believe in them. You are free to follow the advice and traditions taught by our yoga masters, or to follow the Western tradition of ignoring them as superstitious."

Tampereen työväenopisto offers the best prices, and good enough courses for all but the most active enthusiasts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ashtanga yoga and gymnastics

Some sports train juniors into top athletes, while other sports enable adult hobbyists to stay fit. In team ball games, ice hockey is the serious sport while floorball is the sport of choice for amateurs. Many schools and companies have a floorball field reservation for their students or employees. In martial arts, wrestling trains young professional athletes while krav maga, kickboxing and various schools with Japanese names train adults.

For gymnastics, the closest matching adult sport is Ashtanga yoga. Yoga covers those parts of gymnastics which are realistic for adults, and which are not better trained at gym.
  • Flexibility exercises - included in Ashtanga Yoha
  • Static strength positions - included in Ashtanga Yoga
  • Pulling and pressing - better trained in gym
  • Dynamic acrobatics - out of reach for adults
Many static positions are part of both gymnastics and Ashtanga yoga, with different names:
Alexandra Kroha in a split.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Twice this year I've used the kind of approach recommended by Janka - highly personalized one - to open up conversation with a woman and both times I got a good reaction.

The first time was in an electronic music event. I saw a girl with 3 Chinese characters tattooed to his arm, and recognized that the middle one was 佛, which means Buddha. So I told her that I can recognize one of the characters and asked what the other ones meant.

The second time was in gym. A woman older than me had 2 Chinese characters tattooed to his arm, and I recognized that the last one was 火, which means fire. I didn't open that time, but memorized the first character and later tried to search it from dictionary without success. The next time I saw him I started with line "I see you have a fiery tattoo". She told me that the tattoo is a Chinese horoscope, fire horse.

Both conversations lasted for solid 10 lines, and were very much limited by my own approach anxiety. I saw the fire horse woman third time, greeted her and she greeted back, so there is reason to believe that it was a positive experience also for her.

Few girls have Chinese character tattoos, so I didn't consider these relevant from the seduction point of view. Thanks to Janka for pointing out a way to generalize these success stories.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A clarification

At some point in my life, I got bored of drinking beer and went to the dancefloor, gradually developing a way to move my body to unknown rhythm, especially at electronic music events where dancing is the main thing and dancing alone isn't creepy as in discos.

Then I found the parapara style, and it was love at first sight. It is a Japanese dance form where the emphasis is on simple and fast hand movements, there are ready choreographies for songs and everyone dances in the same way. It is one of the few dance traditions that can be directly applied to the modern dancefloor.

In India, my standard daily routine after work was to go to gym and stretch hands by repeating parapara videos. When I returned to Finland, I taught myself improvisation with any music by just playing something on Winamp and doing some parapara moves.

Nowadays, I got zero inhibitions to go to the dancefloor with confidence. I wasn't making just any pick-up attempt, but trying to find a dance partner.

There was a time when "Saanko luvan?" was a standard opening. But judging from the really repulsive vibe that I got from the evening, and the complete lack of positive reaction on their behalf, this approach is by today's standards too enthusiastic and crude and has to be preceeded by complex and unintuitive things like personalized negging.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Why I don't usually go to bars to chase skirt

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein

The Way of the Pickup Artist would be to just go and get repeatedly rejected until you get comfortable with the appoach anxiety and find some working methods to start conversation.

My take is that it might perhaps be beneficial for me to repeat last night's attempts once a month to benchmark possible progress of social skills. It would also aid in conquering approach anxiety (a big factor which made me fail last night's surprise opportunity to witness seduction.)

However, Game is not very relevant when the issues I'm dealing with are the lack of eye contact and 2-line conversations.

The Lost in Music night was fun. Last night wasn't.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A different kind of bar evening

Today, I went to Inferno nightclub, a heavy metal disco. I went to pick up women (anticipating mainly rejection) as opposed to dancing (the main thing in electronic music events) and drinking beer (the main thing in non-discos.)

So, my plan and goal was that I'll propose to 3 groups of women, get rejected and leave the bar.

My first proposal didn't count, since the girl just ignored it, probably not hearing it.

The second proposal was to a group of 2 women with jacket (jakkupuku), as opposed to some rock/metal-spirited garment. Naturally their clothes were black, after all this was a metal nightclub. A song started which they liked and they went to dancefloor. I asked one of them if she wanted company for dancing. She said generally that this dancefloor is free-for-all. I said "great". Then I started to dance, trying to make eye contact with her, but she rejected me by moving opposite to her girl pair and dogmatically maintaining eye contact to her. I exited dancefloor after 3 minutes.

In the third case, there was a pair of girls. One of them got picked by another man, and one was looking bored. I went to ask her if she didn't feel bored to stay in place while others danced. While doing this, I noticed that she was probably older than me. I didn't hear what she answered, but she didn't raise from her chair.

The third case was again with the other girl from the jakkupuku group. She was dancing alone in the floor while the second girl was already sitting at a bench. I went to dance in front of her, trying to establish eye contact to start some chat ("You need company for dancing?"). She looked the other way and after 30 secs I went away.

Having reached my quota of 3 girl groups, I went to toilet. A man there started a chat. He asked how my evening was going, and I told that 3 groups of girls rejected me as a dance partner and after further inquiries that I was bored and open to suggestions. He suggested that I should join him and he would introduce me for some of his friends. After me showing enthusiasm he emphasized that I should behave smarter and less enthusiastic and talk less. I followed him.

Then the bad luck stroke. He went to talk to the same 2 jakkupuku girls which both had rejected me. When this tall, handsome man went to their table and laid his hands on the table, smiling, the girls returned with eye contact and the interested smile which I see in photographs all the time but which is never directed for me.

Now I had the opportunity to witness seduction by a natural alpha, but I failed even that. I said that I got rejected by exactly both of these girls, and I probably should leave. This violated his explicit instruction to act more smart and talk less. So I exited the bar...

Despite lack of success, this was a better result than my earlier bar evenings. When me and the natural alpha exited the toilet, a man entered it. This man had been dancing alone in the dance floor, trying to dance opposite to the girls, oblivious to their rejection and lack of reaction. The natural alpha laid some insult towards him ("idiot") probably for his dance floor behaviour.

This bar evening was the first time someone noticed I was making a conerted attempt to pick up girls, and enlisted my support for his own efforts, although I failed at giving this support due to drunkenness and situational factors.

Earlier, that alone-dancing idiot would have been me.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hardcore gymanstics book

"Gymnastics for ironheads" sums up the spirit of the book. The goal is the same as in weight training - to develop strong and functional muscles. But it only uses bodyweight exercises from gymnastic tradition.

Gymnasts are famous for superhuman acrobatic feats where they fly from pole to pole or do multiple cartwheels and aerials on a narrow beam, but this book is nothing like that. It deals with dips, pull-ups, headstands, handstands and other strength exercises. The main claim is that gymnasts who start by systematically developing a strong body will also find acrobatic movements easier.

I ordered it based on this article, and got what I wanted. My old weight training book classifies exercise to 8 categories for different parts of body. A good program covers all categories to achieve balanced development. This new book has bodyweight exercises for all the categories. (The categories are knee dominat, hip dominant, core, vertical/horizontal push/pull, and explosive force.)

So if pig flu strikes, I can stop going to gym and get full exercise with my bodyweight using just walls, mats, a pull-up bar and rings.

The funny thing is that the author is a coach for a national team of young gymnasts. So all the pictures are about 9 - 15 years old boys. It also classifies the moves with 5 stars. I can currently only do 1/2 star movements and hope to progress some day to 1-star moves. Luckily, it lists much more exercises in the easy end. It ends with a motivational story about the benefits of strength training for gymansts.

A gymnastics based workout of the day
After a four hour workout and completing their ring strength training, the general physical preparation assignment was to complete, in 15 minutes, as many rounds as possible of the following: 10 muscle-ups followed by 20 pause-jump squats. The winner would be the one who completed most rounds in 15 minutes.
The pause-jump squats were simply a jumping squat with a 2-3 second pause at the bottom with hips parallel or slightly below the knees. I placed these here primarily to provide a break for their upper body before the next set of muscle-ups. (As a side note, towards the end of the workout, one of my athletes became bored with the pause-jump squats and began adding a back flip to the jump portion.)

The results were as follows: Chris and Greg chased each other throughout the entire fifteen minutes, completing 12 rounds each and were begining a 13th round when the clock ran out. Chris was crowned champion as he finished his 12th round of muscle-ups one rep ahead of Greg. Greg was, needless to say, quite annoyed to have been defeated by one rep. ... They were not extremely fatigued and would have been fine had I extended the time of the general physical preparation to twenty minutes.

Allan and Zach were tied for third with 10 rounds apiece for 100 single bar muscle-ups and 200 jump-squats. As an interesting aside, Allan ... had only recently turned 9 years old that March.

We finished off our workout with 50 flairs on the pommel horse. ...

So if you want to be able to do 100 pull-ups in 15 minutes once you reach the age of 9 years, this book tells you how!