Pole dancing is a combination of dance and gymnastics that is an increasingly popular form of fitness and dance. Pole dancers use a vertical pole which is either static or spinning, and train in gyms or dedicated dance studios.
It’s no secret that pole dancing really started in the strip clubs. But it has evolved into so much more and pole dancing fitness enthusiasts and schools have been working tirelessly to change the perception to one of a legitimate dance style emphasising the acrobatics and strength. Circus influences such as Chinese pole and other aerial arts have helped along the way, moving it away from the erotic environment. Competitions are usually non-sexual and are judged on tricks and transitions rather than sensuality.
Rather than just the gyrating and grinding people expect it to be, pole dancing requires an amazing amount of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance, even a five minute routine is extremely tiring! Obviously in clubs, rather than actual tricks, there is a lot of floor-work and other things that are designed to arouse rather than amaze! Pole dancers use upper body and core strength are the most obvious requirements as there are a lot of climbs, spins and inverting the body weight – it often involves a lot of training to get anywhere near an advanced level.
Pole dancing as we see it today originated during the depression in America. The traveling entertainment and carnival troupes would go from town to town. In one of the side tents aside from the main show, girls would dance suggestively on a small stage in front of crowds of cheering men. Sound familiar? Pole dancing gradually moved into to bars in the 1950s as burlesque became more popular and then during the 1980s in North America, became pole dancing and the modern striptease. It was only a decade later that a dancer in Canada started teaching pole dancing for fitness to women who weren’t club dancers.
In Australia, the first pole dancing studio, Bobbi’s Pole Studio, opened in Sydney in 2004, closely followed by Pole Divas in Melbourne in 2004 and a national competition followed in 2005. Since then there have been dozens of pole dancing schools opening all over Australia and we boast some of the best pole dancers in the world, including multiple Miss Pole Dance World winner, Felix Cane.
We do know that there are different styles of pole dancing including Chinese pole, and Mallakhamb (an Indian sport), neither of which have an erotic component and are mainly performed by men, so obviously pole dancing in different forms has developed around the world over time. The Mallakhamb pole is wide, made of wood and has a wooden ball on the top of it. Chinese Pole is usually performed using two poles, between which the men perform gravity defying acrobatics.
During a pole dancing fitness class, which are often similar to aerobics or dance classes in their format, students begin with a cardiovascular warm up, use dynamic stretching and strength drills to prepare and then learn a series of tricks, climbs and inverts and often then put them into a dance routine to practice transitions and develop their endurance. One other thing that is often reported by women who have taken up pole dancing for fitness is a feeling of empowerment and increased confidence. Whether this is because of their developing strength, skill, grace or simply a sense of achievement, differs from student to student.
Pole dancing now focuses on the fitness, acrobatics and dance performance aspects and competitions are fierce. Some dancers are lean contortion machines whilst some look like they could be body builders in their spare time. Women and men compete on a regular basis around the world in a number of styles, all with absolutely breathtaking performances. Pole dancing has definitely come a long way from the sexy tent pole dancing where it began!
Courtney from Study Moose
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