By Sara Schreiber
Emmy Young was a single mom looking through Groupons on a Friday night when a pole workshop with Myss Angie caught her eye. “I was coming out of MMA and I just wasn’t angry anymore,” Emmy says, “and I kind of wanted something else that was interesting.” She was immediately addicted. “Pole is the best of everything,” she says. She and her son frequently try new hobbies through Groupon and although she’s enjoyed many of them, pole is the only one that has stuck like this.
Emmy trains and teaches at Carousel Pole and Fitness, where the owner is a former student at the very same studio. The studio was about to shut down when Kim purchased it and gave Emmy the chance to develop the course catalogue. “We started out with two pole classes and one trick class, and now we have like fifteen,” says Emmy. “We brought lyrical in and we brought higher level advanced tricks, we brought pole cardio, we brought lots of stuff….It’s like a clubhouse….It’s much more of a family than a business.”
Pole was never about exercise for Emmy. “It started out just being a fun way of connecting with people and music and just dancing like I used to when I was younger. But it became something different.” Emmy, like many others, found a growing sense of self-esteem as she practiced pole “A lot of our self-esteem comes from outside people telling you how you feel, but there are no windows in the pole studio. No one else is looking in. I can just look in the mirror and be like, ‘I’m sexy’ and it has nothing to do with anybody else. It’s actual internal self-esteem. I think that pole’s the only place where I’ve ever felt that.”
She also partially credits the pole community for her son’s growth. “I think part of the reason why, as a teenager, he’s so comfortable in his skin and so comfortable with people who are very different, is because he grew up in our community. So he looks at pole dancing and he doesn’t see gender, he just sees strength and moves.” Her son is supportive of his mom’s hobby in more ways than one. “I can shoulder mount off him and he lets me. He’s a lot taller than me now, so I can shoulder mount off his torso.” He even made up a pole move that Emmy includes in every dance she does. She calls it “Able’s Spin.”
Emmy has been competing since 2018, where she took fourth place, missing out on third by only a couple points. After that, she went to PSO in Chicago and took second place in Level 3 Championship and first in Level 3 Dramatic. That first gold medal was especially meaningful to Emmy as the dance was for her grandmother who was dying of cancer. “I got to tell her that I won my first gold for her,” Emmy says. After that she followed it with back-to-back golds in Level 4 Championship and Level 4 Dramatic. She took third in an online competition in Level 5 Professional Artistic. This fall won’t be her first time at MNPC either. In 2020, she took first in Level 3 Sport.
Through all of these competitions and other performances, Emmy has had to deal with cataplexy. “When I’m nervous or have really strong feelings, I really will fall down laughing,” she explains. “If you can imagine, being on stage and being nervous, I lose strength in my legs and my hands. I have to perform at like 60% of my strength. So I’m trying to kind of do exposure therapy so hopefully that won’t keep happening….It still affects me now, but it’s not as debilitating as it once was.”
Emmy is planning to compete at MNPC on Sunday, but she also has a lot of injuries: “I have two shoulder injuries, two knee injuries, a hernia in my stomach, disk tear, and an older nerve injury in my arm.” If she gets to compete, she’ll be in the Elite Sport category and the routine features her favorite move, the Titanic Drop, which she learned out of necessity. “The first time I got the titanic, ever, I was with a Russian woman…She didn’t speak English so we were doing stuff with hand signals….She showed me a titanic, so I tried it, but I was already up the pole,” Emmy says. “I’m way too high to hop off, so I yelled across the studio at Dakotah [Wolfe], ‘How do I get out of this?’ and she looks at me and goes, ‘I don’t know!’ I didn’t have a mat down and I go, ‘Do you think I could go like a Superman Drop?’ and she goes, ‘I don’t know!’ And so I went because I didn’t know any other way down.” Emmy loves to shock audiences with this drop and get the gasps.
In addition to performing, Emmy will be volunteering at MNPC as the backstage manager and supporting her own students who are competing. “I really like to talk to people before they go out on stage,” she says. “I like to be the one there when they get off. I feel like it’s a good role to be supporting your fellow dancers…it’s such a community, there’s no teams, you just want everyone to win. It’s like my favorite place to be.”
After MNPC 2022, Emmy is planning to work on one final competition piece before moving into just performing and coaching. “I want to compete at a professional level one last time before I take a step back,” she says. “I coach a couple people, and I really like helping people figure out the technicalities….I like to help people figure out how best to use their body to do things. I want to move away from me getting medals…I’m getting old and broken so I need a different direction.”
Emmy’s performance will close out the MNPC competitions for 2022 on Sunday, September 11th. You can follow her on Instagram @pole.ninja.emmy