- Why You Should Take a Pole Dancing Class
- Pole Position: How the It-Fitness Trend Stripped Away Skeptics
- Vertical Integration
- The Rise of Pole Dancing as The New Fitness Trend
- Dropping the antiquated stigma connected to pole dancing
- 3 undeniable reasons to start pole dancing
- 1. It tones your body
- 2. It’s empowering
- 3. You’ll be joining a community
- Follow us on Instagram:
- What Are the Benefits of Pole Dancing?
- Why Should You Take Pole Dancing?
- Why Inner Me?
- 8 Reasons You Need to Try Pole Fitness
- Making Pole Dancing a Sport Is Offensive to Strippers
- The History Of Pole Dancing, A Rising Fitness Trend
- The Chinese Pole
- The Indian Pole or ‘Mallakhamb’
- Exotic Day Influence
- Modern Day Pole Dancing
- Pole Dancing in the Olympics?
Why You Should Take a Pole Dancing Class
many female forms of dance, pole dancing has had a fraught history of seedy clubs and leering men-a reputation that often chases would-be dancers away.
But aficionados are bringing it the shadows and into fitness studios to show women how empowering and fun it can be to twist, twirl, and (oh yes!) be sexy, all while getting a fantastic workout. So when Why I Dance, a film that's now gone viral, asked pole dancers to share why they love the sport (“Because I love my body.
” “Because it's a killer workout.” “Because it makes me feel happy.”), the only surprising thing was what wasn't on the list: There was absolutely nothing about how their moves make it rain dollar bills.
“Pole dancing accomplishes so many things at once.
Not only is it an incredible core and upper-body strength builder, it is also sexually liberating, emotionally cathartic, a form of expression, and an exploration of self,” says Amy Main, co-producer on the film and self-proclaimed fitness fanatic.
“It's the most transformative type of fitness I've ever experienced. And I've never been so in love with my body and curves!” (Try 5 Classes You Should Take Outside of the Gym.)
Pole dancing is also a feminist act, says co-producer Sascha Alexander. She, with fellow pole instructors Main, Julia Roth, and Melanie Zoey Weinstein, decided to make the film not just to promote their favorite sport but also to help women reclaim their bodies, sexual power, and freedom.
After seeing the sport help women in their local studios, the four instructors wanted to spread the message to even more women.
“We were inspired to create the film when we realized that our experiences had massive potential resonance to the world around us and to the feminist movement on a global level,” Alexander explains.
But not everyone feels so comfortable mixing workout time and sexy time. To those who worry about being “too sexy”, Weinstein, the film's director, says that learning to let go can be one of the most valuable lessons you take away from a pole class (after how to keep yourself from falling on your head, of course).
“The phrase itself implies that there is such a thing as 'being too sexy' and that it's something to worry about. This line of thinking is crazy.
It's designed to instill fear, to pit women against each other, to make women play small,” she says. “It's saying 'Whoops, I woke up sexy again this morning.
Better do something about that sexy that keeps cropping up. I must need a product to help me put all that sexy away.'”
In addition to better balance, coordination, and arms to rival Michelle Obama's, another major benefit of pole dancing is the body confidence it brings, says Roth.
Learning to trust your body and remembering how much fun it is to just play are two core principles of dancing. “We teach women: Don't be afraid to get messy. Love that mess. Love anything your body reveals to you. Trust yourself.
Be wild!” she adds. (Give it a go with Olivia Wilde's Crazy-Fun Dance Workout.)
But perhaps the best part of pole dancing as a workout is that women of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels are encouraged and welcomed, say the filmmakers. “Let's light up the world with our beautiful, courageous, wholesome, sexy selves,” says Weinstein, “exactly as we are.” Check out Why I Dance for yourself, below.
Pole Position: How the It-Fitness Trend Stripped Away Skeptics
“It definitely is not just a dance, no way,” agrees Kelly Yvonne, a classically trained dancer turned pole choreographer, who has shepherded Twigs’s training regimen.
At her Los Angeles pole studio The Choreography House (which will launch online courses later this year), she’s seen mental transformations, Twigs’s, in tandem with physical ones.
But for some, pole as a means of personal evolution doesn’t change its polarizing place of origin: the strip club.
The backlash against pole’s rise as a fitness modality began as early as 2004, when the national gym chain Crunch, sensing a bubbling trend, added classes to its roster. As new acolytes took notice, so did critics.
“Why is this the ‘new feminism’ and not what it looks : the old objectification?” Ariel Levy asked in her 2005 book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, which probed the mainstreaming of hot pants, breast implants, and, yes, pole dancing—something Levy and plenty of others deemed “a desperate stab at freewheeling eroticism in a time and place characterized by intense anxiety.”
Nearly 15 years later, there’s a different kind of anxiety in the air. I think about the idea of owning your body, your sexuality, your well-being, as I head to my third pole class in as many weeks. (I’m hooked on a once-a-week rhythm, though the $40 sessions often book up in advance.
) That night, protesters are gathering downtown and across the country to decry the draconian antiabortion legislation rolling out state by state, and freedom takes on a new corporeality in the studio. My years of rigid ballet training begin to loosen in my hips, along with the attendant self-judgment.
Aerial pole work requires using your skin double-stick tape, so the room is a sea of flesh: hard biceps, shimmering cellulite, a C-section scar. Dozens of deep-seated squats set my quads on fire.
Best of all, I finally access the entire landscape of my abs, from rib cage to well below navel, an unexpected perk.
“I have a lot of respect for people who do the pole,” Jennifer Lopez told Jimmy Kimmel while promoting this month’s Hustlers, set in a Manhattan strip club, with an ensemble cast that includes Constance Wu and Cardi B.
Veteran Cirque du Soleil performer Johanna Sapakie trained Lopez (officially ageless at 50) for the role, helping her find a second-nature ease on the pole. But it was Jacqueline Frances, better known as Jacq the Stripper, who helped Lopez figure out how to harness the energy of a room.
A comedian, author, and seasoned dancer, the statuesque Frances was something of an authenticity coach on the film’s set, ensuring that Lopez’s and Wu’s performances are as true-to-life as possible. She also makes a cameo as a happy-go-lucky stripper, “which is not a far cry from how I appear on the daily,” she jokes.
Frances accedes that the lineage of pole dancing is inherently murky, as it has always lived in the shadows.
“But we can’t be talking about pole fitness and empowerment if we’re not honoring the foremothers who invented it,” she says, in a convincing bid to have me meet her at Pumps—a low-key strip club in East Williamsburg that’s more a bar than one of those “oppressive hetero spaces,” she says.
When I arrive, Jacq’s friend Sunny—a beguiling aerialist from Spain, with a face a Man Ray photograph—is on the pole, suspending herself in lithe geometries. If this is the freewheeling eroticism that Levy derided, here it is grounded in enviable skill and, above all, agency. As I slip into a taxi on the far side of midnight, I add myself to the waitlist for another Sunday class.
These top pole studios break down the basics, and much more.
BODY & POLE115 W. 27th St.,New York, NY 10001;(212) 334-6900
THE CHOREOGRAPHY HOUSE13131 Sherman Way, #205,North Hollywood, CA 91605;(818) 854-0922
INCREDIPOLE145 Java St., #2R,Brooklyn, NY 11222;(646) 396-3699
MILAN POLE DANCE STUDIO250 NW 23rd St., #408,Miami, FL 33127;(305) 420-6831
KNOCKOUT BODIES2216 Central Ave NE,Minneapolis, MN 55418;(612) 789-0826
SHINE ALTERNATIVE FITNESS6415 S Tenaya Way, Suite 100,Las Vegas, NV 89113;(702) 685-1864
The Rise of Pole Dancing as The New Fitness Trend
Pole dancing – a profession that once raised eyebrows and was basically forbidden is now all the rage. Not as a profession but as a fitness craze. Many women and even some men are saying it is the quintessential workout.
The pole dance fitness trend is often associated with women only, though more and more mixed classes are popping up and most competitions now even include men’s categories.
Highlighting themes of empowerment and body positivity in an era of self-care, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing the rise of pole dancing as the new fitness trend.
As is often the case with women’s sports, people underestimate how hard pole actually is! Pole requires an immense amount of skill, training and athleticism, and is an uplifting form of exercise that we should be able to discover, own and enjoy without any judgment whatsoever.
The pole fitness frenzy has taken the world by storm. So much so that it is even being considered as an Olympic sport. So, if you’re still under the impression that this is a sleazy activity which only has a place in clubs and bars, let’s see what we can do about that archaic orientation.
Dropping the antiquated stigma connected to pole dancing
In order to escape the stigma associated with pole dance fitness, more and more fearless woman from all around the world are being unreservedly open about why they love it and how it makes them feel.
Amy Main, co-producer of Why I Dance says pole dancing accomplishes so many things at once. “Not only is it an incredible core and upper-body strength builder, but it is also sexually liberating, emotionally cathartic, a form of expression, and an exploration of self”. She said it truly is the most transformative type of fitness she’s ever experienced.
The pole dance fitness trend is about focusing on appreciating and respecting what your body can do. It’s about the long-delayed acceptance of all women’s body types, no matter the form, size, or appearance. It’s the practice of body-positivity. It encapsulates the movement perfectly, and that is why it is gaining popularity. And if we feel sexy while doing it, then why the heck not!?
3 undeniable reasons to start pole dancing
Now, if that proclamation wasn’t enough, think about the fitness benefits of lifting yourself up off of the ground with just your foot and a few fingers.
It’s just heading to the gym, except more intense and way more exciting. Let’s drop that age-old image of 10-inch heels and a G-string for 5 minutes and take a look at the many health benefits of pole dance fitness.
1. It tones your body
There are fewer forms of exercise that will tone you as fast and efficiently as pole dancing. Because of the massive amount of movement and core strength needed, you’ll quickly notice your muscles becoming more toned, and we mean all over.
It’s great for your abs, arms, calves, thighs, waist, bum and shoulders. Un other exercises, you only need to do it once a week to see the change in your body within a few weeks. You’ll also feel it because it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s tough but exhilarating.
2. It’s empowering
Many of us are especially shy when it comes to our bodies. The beauty of pole fitness is that it builds confidence and self-esteem very quickly.
Sure, you may feel a little silly in your first couple of classes, but once you gain an understanding of how it works and you start to master the basics, progress will start to speed up and you’ll gain self-assurance rapidly.
Once you start to develop these skills, it’ll have a deeply positive impact on you, both emotionally and physically. You’ll start to walk taller, and you’ll become super proud of yourself and your newfound abilities. Plus, you’ll feel sexier, a whole lot sexier.
It’s an empowering process to perfect new moves while getting a hardcore workout. It’s motivating and will energise you in every other aspect of life too.
3. You’ll be joining a community
At pole dancing class, you’ll never feel an outsider – it’s a community of woman with the same interests. Expect a palpable sense of companionship and encouragement within the pole dance fitness community.
Even when you start to engage with fellow pole junkies online, you’ll find a tremendous amount of positivity and upliftment around it.
The last thing you should be concerned about is being judged in a pole fitness class. Seriously, women of all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels are supported. What’s more, there’s a warm energy surrounding the pole dance fitness trend – expect to make BFFs immediately.
Ok, sounds amazing, but what do I wear to a pole fitness class?
Many women will immediately resort to yoga clothes because they aren’t aware that there is specific pole wear available – pole wear that doesn’t make you feel a stripper. At Dushko we make clothing specifically designed for pole dance fitness and for women of all body types. Go on girl, give it a try!
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BUY NOW – NEW CUSTOMER OFFER FOR $49
- If you have a group of four or more please consider a Private Party.
- Space is limited in size. Reserve your lesson in advance online or call us.
- Please choose a Beginner lesson if you are new to Pole Dancing. If you can invert and climb without assistance you may partake in the Intermediate level class. Please ask your instructor about attending the Advanced or Extreme level classes.
- Please arrive before the scheduled start of class. For safety reasons we prefer customers partake in the class warmup.
- Attire: Please wear shorts to be able to grip the pole with your thighs and any top you prefer. Avoid lotion or oils on your skin as it will make the pole slippery. You may attend class in barefoot or socks with the option to put on heels at the end.
- Please cancel your reservation at least 2 hours in advance to receive studio credit.
- Itinerary: Class will begin with a total body warmup. You’ll learn pole dancing moves on the first day. You’ll learn at your own pace and while you’re practicing the instructor will move around to teach others.
- Depending on the level you chose, you’ll learn the appropriate moves and routine for that class. Everyone learns the same routine. You can remain in your appropriate level of class until you’re ready to move forward to a higher level.
- Benefits: Upper body and core strength, weight loss, increased flexibility, endurance, self-awareness, and sensuality.
- Expect to be really sore. Continue to stretch at home and plan your next workout soon to get over the soreness more quickly.
- Reserve your next lesson in advance as space is limited.
I have been loving Inner Me so far. I started in January and have now been pole dancing for 5 months! Now, I am a girl who HATES exercise.
I never feel strong enough or that I have enough stamina. So for me to have kept a gym membership for five months is really something. I love my pole instructor, Brandi; she’s encouraging and pushes me to keep trying new moves! By far my favorite thing about Inner Me though, is the atmosphere at class.
There is so much positivity, and even though I am not super in shape (yet?) I don’t feel ashamed of my body. I love that anyone can pole dance, no matter their age or weight or fitness level. Inner Me has made me actually move my body and not hate it, and that is a huge deal. Thank you Inner Me!!!!
Addie Rose Gingell BUY NOW – NEW CUSTOMER OFFER FOR $49
Pole dance, a combination of dance and acrobatics around a vertical pole, has been the fastest-growing trend in the fitness world. It offers numerous fitness advantages and enhances self-esteem in the long run. Moreover, it incorporates dance, gymnastics, and acrobatics. It provides complete body workout and the best way to develop muscle, flexibility, coordination, and balance.
Body posture is an essential factor if you want to pole dance. Upper body strength combined with resilience and a slight inculcation of acrobatics on a vertical pole will help you master the art of pole dancing. Inner Me offers pole-dancing classes for people who want to work on their fitness and dance to express at the same time.
What Are the Benefits of Pole Dancing?
By joining us for Pole Dancing classes at Inner Me you will get a chance to exploit your flexibility, test your body, and know where you stand when it comes to fitness.
- Increase Upper Body Strength: You will keep pulling your body upwards with the force of your hands and pressure of the pole. This helps you gain more strength in your upper body that includes your back muscles.
- Endurance to Pain: Pole Dancing can be a painstaking task initially due to the tension of your body weight each time you lift yourself on the pole to perform a move. This constant pressure leads you with no option but to learn to adapt to pain and use it to your benefit.
- Express via Dance and Fitness: The amalgamation of fitness and dance gives you an intricate platform to be more expressive. You are exerting and, at the same time, attempting to perform beautiful moves. This aids in body and expression control, that too in a very entertaining manner.
Why Should You Take Pole Dancing?
- It is an effective workout that helps you burn calories 5x faster than usual forms of exercise.
- It increases your sensory and kinesthetic awareness.
- As your entire body is committed while Pole Dancing, there is a significant improvement in cardiovascular health.
- You gain confidence, and your stress and anxiety levels drastically reduce when you begin to perform well.
Why Inner Me?
Inner Me has given the people who have a passion for dance and fitness the perfect opportunity to work on pole dancing skills. To build on a fair amount of muscle coordination and endurance, one must respect this form of dance to an extent where they embrace rigorous training.
BUY NOW – NEW CUSTOMER OFFER FOR $49
8 Reasons You Need to Try Pole Fitness
I'm always up for trying something new, especially when it comes to my workouts. So when a Groupon for Pole Fitness in my town popped up, I decided to give it a try. It's pole dancing; How tough could it be?
Boy was I in for a surprise! After one hour-long class, every muscle in my body was quivering, and I was slightly discouraged that I couldn't do half the moves the instructor showed in this ‘introductory' class. At the end of class, I was told that I need to wear less clothing, as skin on pole contact is best and my go-to sweats and tee-shirt just weren't cutting it.
Refusing to be a quitter, I took the same ‘intro to pole' class exactly one week later, this time, armed with my determination and the required ‘uniform' of 5-inch clear Lucite platform heels and tank and skorts ensemble. After my second class, I was shocked by my strength gains. I was ‘spinning' and ‘climbing' before I knew it. Plus, it was fun!
Despite gasps of shock from family and friends (“you're doing what?”), I was hooked and determined to fit pole fitness into my life. Just a few classes later, I feel stronger, longer, and leaner.
And I want you to feel the same! I sat down with the ladies at NY Pole, one of the premier pole fitness companies in New York, to dispel the stereotypes and find out why all women should give pole fitness a try.
Here's what I learned:
1. It's Risqué
“The stereotype of what pole dancing means to the majority of people, although changing and getting better every day, is part of the allure to some women,” says instructor Tracy Traskos, of NY Pole. It's also a great conversation topic at parties or even at work.
2. It's Role Playing
Besides the fact that you get to wear 6-inch stilettos when you work out, you also get to be a sex siren for an hour. Coupled with building the leg and arm strength needed to climb the pole and hold yourself up and the coordination to follow the choreography, you get to do moves head and hip rolls, mimicking the sexy dancers you often see at strip clubs (while toning at the same time!)
3. Female Bonding
”Women who take the classes together create great friendships while bonding over the fun of pole dancing,” Traskos says. “Also, no one is catty or judgmental so it's a place you can be free to look foolish if you want to!”
4. It's an Accomplishment
“Participants feel they have accomplished something great they never really thought possible,” Traskos says. Plus, it's a safe, fun, and effective way to learn the art of pole dancing. At an advanced level, pole dancing is both a cardio and strength workout, which can burn 800 calories an hour or more!
5. You Get Individual Attention
Rather than group fitness classes, where one instructor is often teaching a dozen participants or more, pole dancing classes are smaller and more intimate. You get a lot of individual attention from the instructor, similar to personal training sessions.
6. It's Much Harder than it Looks
”This aspect of it builds confidence and improves body image and the ability to tackle other seemingly reach goals in life,” Traskos says. “This confidence inevitably blends into other areas of your life, including relationships.”
7. It's Four Exercises in One
”[Pole dancing] effectively combines strength training, endurance, and flexibility training into one fun activity,” Traskos says. “It's yoga, Pilates, TRX, and Physique 57 all wrapped into one. And in high heels!”
8. It Teaches the Power of Bodyweight Workouts
”Most woman work way harder in pole class than in the gym,” says Traskos, who was a personal trainer for 15 years before joining the team at NY Pole. “There is a time and place for the gym, but pole appeals to women who hate the gymmor never even go. And most of the exercises we do, climbing the pole, are a lot tougher than doing biceps curls.”
Making Pole Dancing a Sport Is Offensive to Strippers
During the past decade, stripper culture has gone mainstream, making its way into popular Instagram accounts, fitness studios, and the pop culture consciousness.
Pole dance exercise classes, in particular, are incredibly popular among people who might be looking to express their sexuality and stay fit through physically challenging creative movements without actually making, what would be for many, a drastic career change.
If you’ve ever been to the club or on , you know that pole dance, in any form, requires immense core strength, skill, and technique.
The US Pole Dance Federation regularly hosts events and competitions that showcase the athleticism of pole dance as a physical feat, and near the end of last year, the Global Association of International Sports Federation made pole dancing a provisionally recognized sport—the first step of many that could one day help make pole dancing an Olympic sport.
Back in 2015, however, the emergence of the Instagram hashtag #notastripper pointed to a huge division between those who dance for sport and those who do it for a living.
At the time, pole fitness enthusiasts and other proponents of the hashtag claimed they were pushing back against the “stigma” of enjoying a form of dance that looks provocative but is strictly for exercise, a movement that appears to be alive and well on Instagram.
Unfortunately, the majority of the stigma associated with pole dance often falls on those for whom dancing is a primary source of income, such as strippers—as well as those performing other types of sex work.
“Pole is trendy, and social media has increased its visibility exponentially,” says Elle Stanger, the writer and stripper who started the hashtag #yesastripper in response to the earlier social media movement to distance pole dance from its strip-club origins.
Stanger says the efforts to make pole dance more conventional “is motivated by a changing audience, because the primary demographic for anti-stripper pole dance is young, white, millennial women.
” Those are the women who really need everyone on Instagram to know they are #notastripper since they want nothing to do with the connotation that goes with the actual profession.
Stanger adds that the monetization of suburban pole studios and pole fitness classes taught by non-strippers, for example, could be driving the movement for separation from stripper culture. These owners are making money off a culture and then purposely distancing themselves from it.
“The push to reframe pole dancing as an edgy—but not too edgy—form of exercise is part of a bigger story of non-sex working women appropriating sex workers' cultural and theoretical innovations while at the same time doing all they can to distance themselves from sex workers,” says Heather Berg, a lecturer at USC who researches labor, sex work, and public policy. She adds that the mainstreaming of pole dance, including its adoption of aesthetics originated by strippers, “should mean less stigma for people who dance for a living,” but instead it “appropriates an art form sex workers developed, directs profit at non-sex workers, and reinforces stigma.”
Dancing professionally for hours on end is physically demanding, and Stanger says she has the scar tissue in her body from nine years of pole dance to prove it. However, she argues that the stigma associated with being a stripper puts strippers at much greater risk for harm than the dancing itself.
“Dancing is not inherently harmful. Dancing nude is not inherently harmful. Dancing nude for money is not inherently harmful. And yet I’ve spoken with so many strangers who have insisted that I must be miserable, abused, a victim of trafficking and Stockholm Syndrome, of low self-esteem,” she tells me.
A 2017 paper published in Annual Review of Sex Research indicates that, for women who exchange sexual services for money, exposure to anti-prostitution stigma can affect many aspects of their quality of life, employment status, and income, and could contribute to varying degrees of social isolation as well as “an array of physical and mental health problems.” The study’s findings are not an indication that all women in the sex industry suffer from mental illness. Rather, they point to the wide-reaching impact of social stigma not only against those working in prostitution but, as the research indicates, on dancers and other types of sex workers as well.
For “conservative feminists who lament recreational pole dancing as evidence of the ‘pornification’ of culture,” the worst thing that could happen to a woman is that she'd be compared to a sex worker, Berg says.
“This has serious implications for sex workers in general, since it reinforces the idea that sex work means violence and degradation, thereby naturalizing violence when it does happen.
” Stanger adds, “When society holds the notion that some people are worthy of abusing, those people will be targeted for abuse.”
The distance between pole dance from stripping not only contributes to stigma against strippers but reinforces the idea that “sex work is not work.” This excuses bosses and policy makers who refuse basic labor rights, putting workers' health at risk in a number of ways, Berg says—a reality that those who pole dance for sport don’t worry about facing.
Some dancers may find sustainable, gainful employment as pole dance instructors themselves.
However, Berg says the movement to recognize pole dance as a competitive sport far removed from strip culture doesn’t do much for those fighting for basic labor rights, or protesting the “racial discrimination that’s rampant in the erotic dance industry” as some dancers did last fall during the NYC Stripper Strike, Berg says.
“What dancers say they need isn't for pole dancing to be recognized as a sport, it's for it to be recognized as a job. This would mean labor protections for dancers facing independent contractor misclassification and coverage under workers' compensation when they get hurt at work.”
As Stanger points out, pole dancing for fitness or competition and pole dancing for tips are both forms of entertainment, but only one will ly outlast social media and fitness trends.
“The people that come in to strip clubs to interact with women me are looking to be titillated,” she says. “The human body can be art. This is why I don’t worry that my job will be outsourced by robots or AI.
There’s no thing in the world positive sexual human energy, and my clients know this.”
For those interested in dabbling in pole dance for the incredible workout, Berg suggests finding a professional erotic dancer who's willing to give classes and pay her, not a fitness instructor trying to expand her market. Tip well. Then, with your rock-hard abs, do your part to support sex worker organizing.
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The History Of Pole Dancing, A Rising Fitness Trend
Tatjana van Onna, Pole, Amsterdam | Courtesy of Faceiro
From the early days of a men-only sport to the exotic dancing of a female, pole dancing has fast become one of today’s biggest trends strongly influenced by centuries-old techniques and the rise of the Western world. Performed by casual students, gym-goers and many national and internationally recognised athletes, today, people are pushing for this art form to be recognised as a competitive sport.
The Chinese Pole
Dating back prior to the 12th century, Chinese acrobats displayed a range of skills requiring great strength on a pole up to nine metres in height, laced with rubber.
These circus professionals, of the time, would wear full body costumes to avoid friction between the skin and the rubber as they climbed, slid down, stretched and held positions, before flipping or jumping off.
Despite being fully clothed, performers would be seen to regularly have burn marks on their shoulders from the friction, and this became a way for others to identify them and have respect for each other within this art form. It was also common to see two or more acrobats performing on the pole at any given time.
Although the Chinese Pole performances are much less fluid than what we see today, there are many tricks the flag – ‘hanging straight out at 90-degree angle to the pole, using nothing but arm strength’ – that are still performed today.
The Indian Pole or ‘Mallakhamb’
Over 800 years ago, the Indians developed their own pole traditions, originating in Maharashtra, known as Mallakhamb. This sport was intended to train wrestlers, with the literal translation of Mallakhamb being ‘wrestler of the pole’ (Malla meaning ‘wrestler’ and khamb meaning ‘of pole’).
Those training would play competitively on a smooth wooden pole – thick at the bottom, narrow at the top – becoming pole-flip specialists. They would often begin their performance by running and flipping directly onto the pole.
These specialists realised the need to wear little clothing, which was inspired by yoga clothes and swimwear, and no shoes to allow their skin to grip better onto the pole.
Mallakhamb requires great precision and agility to perform the movements and positions, developing the performer’s coordination, concentration, reflex and speed, as well as increasing their strength and stamina.
It was believed to be beneficial towards other sports as well, such as athletics, horse-riding, gymnastics, judo and wrestling.
Although this male-dominated competitive sport wasn’t revived until the late 19th century, today there are popular national Mallakhamb championships in India.
Exotic Day Influence
The striptease is believed to date back to myths of the ancient Sumerian times, when the Goddess of Love, Inanna, was seen dancing and removing one item of clothing, or jewellery, as she passed each of the seven gates on her way to find her lover, Damouz. Over time, this form of performing has influenced other exotic dance genres including the ancient Middle-Eastern art form of belly-dancing, Latin-inspired dances (such as the Tango and Rumba), and Parisian Moulin Rouge.
However, pole dancing itself was first associated with a group of dancers known as the ‘Hoochi Coochi’ dancers. The group originated during the American Depression in the 1920s when dancers in travelling fairs would use a lot of suggestive dancing and hip movement, entertaining crowds within the tent, as they danced around the pole holding the tent up.
Following this, the earliest recorded exotic pole dance routine occurred in 1968 as Belle Jangles performed at the Mugwump Strip Joint in Oregon, US.
This ‘craze’ took off in Canada in the 1980s, and in the same country, a woman named Fawnia Dietrich initiated the very first class teaching pole dancing to non-performers in 1994, giving birth to the first pole dancing school in the world and various instructional videos that would take this sport into a new era.
Modern Day Pole Dancing
Thanks to Dietrich, we entered the modern-day world of pole dancing where the US, Australia, Europe and Asia were quick to adopt this craze with pole dance and pole fitness classes, new studios and academies plus various competitions beginning across the world.
Fusing together these centuries-old techniques from the finely-tuned circus skills from the Chinese, the energetic, acrobatic skills from the Indians and the alluring dance skills from the Western World, the modern-day form of pole dancing heavily relies upon fitness, strength, flexibility and endurance.
Although there is still a strong stigma towards pole dancing as being ‘stripping’, this respected role is slowly becoming recognised as a sport and an art form, with various amateur and professional competitions held at various points throughout the year, across the world. Not only is it recognised but it has also been adopted as acrobatic pole by Cirque du Soleil in some of their performances.
Pole Dancing in the Olympics?
With this recognition of pole dancing as an art form, K.T.
Coates – a pioneer in the pole fitness industry – has initiated the effort to include pole dancing in the Olympics, which is strongly supported by thousands across the world, including International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA) founder Ania Przeplasko, highlighting this cause in numerous interviews. Not only are they pushing for pole dancing to be recognised for the Olympics but they, amongst thousands, also believe now is the time for pole dancing to be recognised as a competitive sport. Do you agree?