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Students taking notes during a workshop.

How PoleCon supports discussions in the pole industry

This post is a way to explain what historically has happened at PoleCon events.

PoleCon Supports Discussions in the Pole Industry through Panels

This information may be helpful to people new to the event looking to understand what is offered/has been historically offered or for people looking to pitch new elements to the event.

The pole industry is a very broad and decentralized space. Other than social media, there are few opportunities for people to research and to share information on how to improve their studios, their teaching, their dancing, their pole business experiences (as a consumer and a business owner), and to generally understand what might be “normal” and what might benefit from improvement.

PoleCon has provided spaces to have (at least some of) these conversations through panel discussions both at in-person events since 2015 and in virtual spaces since 2020.

Virtual PoleCon is an event run by our sister organization the International Pole Industry Association (IPIA). This organization is a registered non-profit 501c6 trade association, the first (that we know of) specifically created to support the pole business part of our industry primarily through the sharing of information.

The panels have evolved, grown, and changed over the years and have often started from one person pitching the concept of a panel discussion.

PoleCon Panels Over the Years (2015 to present)

  • The Future of Pole panel (2015 and 2016, in-person PoleCon) *this panel was ended because it was deemed too broad and additional panels to focus on individual topics were created.
  • Stripper/Sex Worker panel (2016 to present, both in-person and virtual PoleCon 2020-2022)
  • Queer Pole panel (2019 to present, both in-person and virtual PoleCon 2020-2022)
  • Plus Size Pole (also called Dangerous Curves) panel (2021 to present, both in-person and virtual PoleCon 2020-2022)
  • Race and Cultural Appropriation in Pole panel (2018 to present, both in-person and virtual PoleCon 2020-2022)
  • Pole Business panel (2020 to present, Virtual PoleCon)
  • Pole Safety panel (2023 to present, Virtual PoleCon)
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Pole panel (2023 to present, Virtual PoleCon) *after previously running several Queer, Stripper/SWer, Race, and Plus Size panels individually virtually (2020-2022), it was decided to combine these topics into a broader topic using a universally standard concept of DE&I. This also made space for the new panel Pole Safety which had information not been explicitly addressed before.

The specific topics and discussions in each of those panels has ranged and changed over the years depending on the people speaking on the panels as well as the tone of the industry and the world at that moment.

An appropriate member that represents the community reflected in the panel always moderates a panel. For instance, a representative from Black Girls Pole moderates the Race and Cultural Appropriate Panel. A current or former stripper/sex worker moderates the stripper/sex worker panel, etc. An open call for panelists is done every year (since 2021) and people self-nominate to speak on the panel of their choice based on their experience(s). Prior to 2021, panel moderators were asked to source their own panelists.

Closing and Future Thoughts

Having panels is, of course, not the only way to have these discussions. PoleCon is certainly not the only place to have these discussions or the only way to share information.

PoleCon hosts several in-person seminars during the in-person event (with topics that range from pole history to practical business tips to nutrition and more) and the IPIA hosts monthly webinars on a variety of topics to facilitate the sharing of information.

The PoleCon and Virtual PoleCon panels will continue to evolve in topic and in function in response to changes in the overall industry.

If you are interested in running your own event or creating a community within the pole industry, there are several free resource posts on the IPIA website that can help you.


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