By Daisy Dumas
Pole position: LuAyne Barber is 252 pounds but regularly competes on the pole dance competition circuit since taking up the dance form in 2006
Flicking her bright red hair back, she swings up onto the pole, her thighs gripping the metal while the the audience cheers in applause.
At 252 pounds, LuAyne Barber - stage name Lulu - is not your average pole dancer.
But her ample body, a U.S. size 22, does not hold her back from the lifts, spins, slides, stands and grips that define the dance form's athletic routines.
Instead, the 5'4" Hanover, Maryland local is perhaps one of the most active in her pole dancing community, regularly competing against the toned, lithe bodies of her peers, since joining the circuit three years ago.
The 26-year-old, who works at a car dealership by day, has been pole dancing for five years, having taken up the unusual hobby in 2006 after having a baby.
As a former competitive cheerleader and dance student, Ms Barber was no stranger to the stage - but she still had to sum up a lot of courage to strip off and take a pole dancing class.
She told Closer magazine: 'I'd always wanted to try it, but I was worried about what people would think. But when I turned up for my first class and everyone was in stilettos and tiny shorts, regardless their different sizes, I felt a lot better.'
Dance fever: The Maryland local works at a car dealership by day but is a confident flesh-baring dancer by night
She recalls how, when younger, she did not eat well - and though she wasn't teased at school, she soon became 'ashamed' of her body.
The 'poling' classes changed her outlook: 'I was instantly hooked. It was the first time I'd felt sexy in years.'
Writing on her site, Team-Lulu.com, the mother-of-two says she balances training on the 8-foot metal poles with her family life. She even has a practice pole installed in her home.
And while Lulu has gained something of a fanbase and has a YouTube channel dedicated to her increasingly ambitious moves, her husband, plumber Will Brown, 29, remains her number one fan.
Mother-of-two: Ms Barber, left, now organises events for the Battle of the Pole Dance Studios
Practice makes perfect: The 26-year-old has a YouTube channel documenting her competition entries
'Will loves my dancing. I've always been curvy. I'm not going to let my weight stop me doing what i love,' she told the magazine.
Wearing a skin-tight leotard and five inch red wedge heels complete with calf ties, the red head is every part the pole dancer - but that doesn't stop her from standing out because of her body shape and size.
Ms Barber told the magazine that dancers have called her fat and that she looks like a 'beached whale.' Her new found pastime saw her weight drop, only to creep back up since the birth of her second child.
Doin' the splits: The dancer has not let her weight, or her PCOS, hold her back
Unperturbed, the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome sufferer has turned her hobby into a charity venture, too, with proceeds from Battle of the Pole Dance Studios she organises helping to raise money towards PCOS research.
The dancer, who is yet to win a title, runs workshops and writes that she 'is not giving up her dream of becoming pro.'
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
'It's the first time I've felt sexy in years': 252 pound pole dancer takes on the competitive circuit
By Daisy Dumas