We had the good fortune of connecting with Claudia Renee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Claudia Renee, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It wasn’t intended to be something big. I didn’t think the pandemic would last as long as it did, so my intention was a “temporary pivot” to make up for lost wages I would normally make traveling to dance studios in person. It all started by providing donation based dance classes on instagram live. When I realized how many people were interested in virtual classes, I knew I could turn it into something bigger, so I launched my website in April 2020 so I could control the platform easier. Instagram tends to discriminate and block pole dancers, so I knew it wasn’t a long term solution for my classes to be held. I felt like I was constantly pivoting for the first few months; trying to see what worked for our customers and have a place where I could host other dancers, help promote their classes through my website, connect dancers from around the world in the comfort and safety of their own homes, help other pole dancers earn solid wages, and provide a safe space where people could feel free to express themselves while stuck inside. It became something really special quickly. And surprisingly, we were able to help artists earn a lot more money than they did in regular in person dance classes. It all happened so fast.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Pole dance instructing is my profession. I’ve been dancing/teaching/competing since 2009 and when I started, I knew I wanted to make a career out of it. Dancing gave me the freedom to express myself in ways I never had before. It also gave me confidence I had never experienced. I wanted to find a way to help others feel that same sense of empowerment, so I dove in hard, training 2-8 hours a day while going to college and working 2 jobs. It was a wild ride, but pole dancing got me through it. I spent the first several years of my career competing for exposure. Once people started to recognize me as an artist, I knew it was time to try to make real money. There was nothing easy about it. The sad truth is, people don’t want to pay for pole dancers. Gigs were few and far between and events didn’t want to pay me the same as other “aerialists”. I had to fight really hard for the rates I charge. I overcame those challenges by believing in my worth as a dancer, and supporting others along the way. It takes an army to build an empire. Team Basework is my online baby and we provide pole and a select few non-pole classes to students around the world. “Basework” is what my business specializes in specifically and it’s a specific type of pole dance where you stay at the base of the pole. But don’t get it twisted, it’s not easier than aerial dancing. As far as the team of instructors I have teaching for Team Basework, some are active sex workers and some are allies. I currently have 8 instructors from around the world who rotate throughout the month and I feel so lucky to have access to the group of women that I do. They are all equally inspiring in their own way and so special. They all have a unique approach to teaching that makes our students feel comfortable, happy and constantly inspired. We all have our stories and backgrounds that make the team really unique. And for those who are unfamiliar with pole dancing, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to be or look a certain way to pole dance. Pole is for anyone willing to try. We do not discriminate. You can find our schedule at www.teambasework.com.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Most people who come to Los Angeles want a beach day so day 1 would be a trip to Malibu. I would take the PCH on the way there and the canyon on the way home so you get the best of both worlds. On the way home, stop at Cafe Gratitude in Venice for a delicious vegan feast! Day 2, visit Olvera Street in Downtown which is the oldest street in L.A. where you can also find the most authentic Mexican Food, followed by a walk through the Arts District where there are several free museums, great sights to see and amazing boutiques and restaurants to explore all day! If you like fashion, fabrics, arts and crafts, I would also check out The Fashion District which is all in the same area. Another day would be another visit to the westside for a relaxing meditative experience. First stop would be at Pause Studio for float therapy in a sensory deprivation tank, followed by an infrared sauna session. Then lunch at “Butchers Daughter” which has great vegetarian/vegan options, then finish the day with a meditation and walk at Lake Shrine in the Palisades. The rest of the days would be full of walks around my favorite neighborhoods like “Angelino Heights” and exploring the History of Los Angeles. As far as nightlife, I love rooftop bars like Mama Shelter, The Highlight Room, or The Perch In Downtown and squeezing in another day in Malibu at Paradise Cove. If you like Flea Markets, Los Feliz Flea is a great spot for Saturdays and Sundays, and you can finish your trip at the Atwater Village Farmers Market. If you don’t mind driving a bit, I would also suggest a day trip to Santa Barbara to the Hot Springs. You would hike about 30 minutes to a beautiful oasis of hot springs where you can freely soak for hours. One more suggestion is a day or overnight trip to Joshua Tree if you want to experience the desert in all its glory. This place is magical if you like to relax, read and sit by the pool without anyone bothering you!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am lucky enough to have a team of really supportive humans who have pushed and encouraged me to move forward in my pole dancing career. There have been many obstacles to overcome, but if it wasn’t for my tour manager, Alanatis Bohlen, my family, my assistant/right-hand, Tash, and so many others, I don’t know that I would. have believed I could become successful in this very niche market.
@michellimphoto on IG Michel Lim Photography for the first photo provided