I entered in to my very first pole dancing competition last night, after doing pole for seven months! I had an amazing time – the crowd was insane, the energy was incredible, and it was so much fun. I’ve said before that pole dancing is to me what gym is to most people, keeping my body and mind healthy. I’m also a performer, so entering the competition was a fun way of melding the two. Strictly speaking, I know that entering a competition is a luxury and not particularly frugal in and of itself, but if I’m going to splurge, I’m going to do it in the smartest way possible. So, in the interest of reflecting on where my money goes, I thought it would be interesting to break down potential costs and pitfalls, where most people splurge, and compare them to my own frugal alternatives. Here we go…
Girls put a lot of effort in to their routines, being mentored by experienced teachers and having private lessons. I chose to create the routine on my own, with some fellow students’ input and advice.
Can cost: If you’re paying money for a private lesson, you’ll be dropping some serious cash! Privates run at $120 per hour for each session.
I paid: The only extra money I pay outside of my classes is $80 for unlimited practice time. That means I can come in to the studio at any of the allocated times and practice on my own. The unlimited pass also runs for eight weeks, so that’s not just a once off lesson, that’s at least one extra hour, twice a week. I’m not counting this as a cost for the competition as I always pay this as part of my regular pole training.
Savings: At least $120, assuming I only wanted one private lesson!
Audition and Entry
To film the audition video, it was recommended to hire out the studio that has the poles in the same layout as the stage will on the night. There’s also the entry fee itself, an unavoidable $15.
Can cost: Hiring out the studio is $50 per hour. Going out to lunch with the girls after filming your audition tape can add the additional cost of lunch – around $20 (as a modest estimate!). Between hiring the studio, lunch, and entry fee, auditions can run around $85.
I paid: I waited until the studio had an open time to film audition videos – one day where we could come in and take turns filming in the same fancy studio, only we didn’t have to pay anything at all. I did go out to lunch with the girls after, as it was a social event, but I only bought a coffee! Meaning with the unavoidable audition fee, I only paid $20.
Ah, costume! A crucial element of a showgirl sport like pole. Usually they are a mix of the lycra fabulousness of gymnastics and sexy lingerie goodness.
Can cost: A lot of the girls turned to seamstresses for their fabulous creations. If you’re after something handmade, I imagine that can cost $200 and upwards. Even a nice lingerie set will cost around $120, and then you have to outlay for rhinestones and other gems to make it stage ready.
I paid: Having nothing appropriate for a competition, I was completely stuck for a costume. I managed to find a brand new Bras & Things bodysuit in a thrift shop, tags still attached, for $7, which I wore for my audition. I also bought cheap gloves as a prop for $5. The feedback from my audition video asked me to jazz up my costume, but I didn’t want to spend even more money. So I raided my lingerie drawer, paired a Dita Von Teese bra and some Kmart undies I already owned (I swear they looked like a perfect match!) and instead outlaid only for two packets of rhinestones, and availed on some friend’s kindness to help with the hot gluing. I shopped around for rhinestones and got two packets of 180 for $26. Meaning my audition and performance costume can to only $38.
Savings: If we go by my conservative estimate of $200, I saved a cool $162. Ka-ching!
Getting in to the actual competition meant more fees to be paid, sadly!
Can cost: It was a cost of $35 to be a part of the competition once you had gotten in (on top of the initial audition fee – I know, I know!). There was the option to pay for an edited high quality video of your routine as well, which every single girl elected to take up, for an extra $35.
I paid: I paid the requisite $35 fee for entry, but I was literally the ONLY girl to say no to the video. I’ll have plenty of fun proof of my routine from the professional event photographer, which I don’t have to pay for!
On The Day
Costs can certainly add up on the day! We arrived at the venue at midday and the show didn’t start until 7 pm, giving a lot of time to wait around, and spend money!
Can cost: Girls went and grabbed food and coffees throughout the day, an estimated cost of around $20, assuming you only pick up one meal. Some girls hired their own hair and makeup artists to make sure they looked perfect, a cost I imagine comes in at around $100. Drinks at the bar after the performance would also add at least $10. Before the show there were pole wear vendors set up in the foyer, encouraging you to grab an extra pair of pole shorts, running at around $50. Finally, if the competitors wanted to watch the other categories from the audience, they needed to buy a ticket, which didn’t come cheap – $60, in fact. Altogether, the performance day could be the most expensive part, coming in at a steep $240.
I paid: I drove to the venue and found a free park. Not frugal in terms of petrol, but I had an errand to run twenty minutes from the venue, so I batched those together. I brought a hearty lunch and my own snacks, and spent no money on outside food or coffee. I did my own hair and used free make up artists provided by the organisers (and ended up being sorely disappointed and redoing my own makeup – thank goodness it was free!) I skipped the drinks after the performance, using my own water bottle instead of buying bottled. I bought no extra pole wear, even though we finalists were given percentage-off vouchers. I did buy a ticket to watch the competitors, but waited until a friend had one to get rid of quickly, and only paid $25 for it.
Total potential cost: A jaw-dropping $715.
Total I paid: $118.
Total savings: $597.
Woah! I knew that the competition could theoretically be quite expensive, but I didn’t realise just HOW expensive until I crunched these numbers. I am so glad I took the cheaper route where possible, and I don’t think it had any bearing on my experience of the competition. I feel bad to think about all that money spent on forty different routines when there were only seven winners. I would have been angry with myself if I had splurged when it wasn’t necessary. I’m very proud of my frugal work!
Featured image: Miguel Salgado