We come from all corners of the globe. Pole dancers represent all backgrounds, races, creeds, ages, philosophies, abilities and sexual identities. We perform different styles of dance as diverse as music itself.
Yet we are all a family! Each and every one of us is united by pole. When we meet our social media friends in real life it’s magical. Competitions and conventions become family reunions (That PoleCon bubble feels so wonderful). At workshops, we accept one another and celebrate achievements together. The rest of the world could learn to be a little more like pole dancers.
Unfortunately, we all have to face the ugly societal stigma currently held against pole dancing. The world we live in doesn’t yet realize our contribution to art, fitness, and movement. As if this isn’t difficult enough to contend with, we must also face our own individual stigmas as proud pole dancers. Ever hear a shocked acquaintance exclaim with surprise “You pole dance?!?)?
“You’re too________________________ to pole dance”
Personally, i have heard all of these before:
She’s a poor role model to her child for pole dancing
She’s got inconsistent technique
She’s pretty old to be a pole dancer
She’s slow at learning choreography
She’s got body fat
All that stuff is just somebody’s opinion. Does their opinion matter more than mine? Would i let somebody talk about my friend that way? Strong NO to both questions. When i was a child i was mercilessly beaten and bullied because i weighed 235lbs at the time. This painful experience taught me to treasure my individuality and seek comfort with others who were labeled “outcasts” by our pint-sized peers. Guess that’s why i’m cool with boys who heel clack, twerking grannies, and people who earn their living at the strip club. Here are SOME examples that highlight the delightful diversity of the pole community.
Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number
Pole dancing really is physical therapy when you think about it. Grasping the pole while isolating muscle groups enables the body to remain in proper alignment with the added benefit of focused stability. Many seniors are looking for interesting ways to stay active, while being attentive to their body’s specific and changing needs. Often seniors move with a delightfully liberated dance style that comes with decades of self-awareness and wisdom. They are blessed with the “ravishings of age” and have every right to feel fancy on the pole if they want to. “Seniors”—we call them Pole Masters and Grandmasters!—are a lively bunch and should be treated as such.
Ever hear of Black Girl Magic? It’s a concept and a rallying to bring attention and admiration to the contributions of women of color. Their exceptional gifts have been chronically undervalued, and it’s high time these resilient ladies had an opportunity to be seen and heard. Black Girls Pole is a worldwide organization that seeks to promote diversify of the pole community and a motivational movement that inspires and educates women of color about pole. They offer spectacular retreats and shoe popping showcases to celebrate and elevate female black pole dancers. At this year’s PoleCon, BGP hosted a very enlightening panel discussing race and cultural appropriation in our society. This starts the sometimes, challenging conversations necessary to create change. When we exchange empathy in this way, it allows us to learn from each other and grow together… one conversation at a time.
Let’s Hear It For the Boys
The community knows how marvelous our men of pole are. Their inherent strength and stunning performances make the men’s showcases a real crowd pleaser. Boys are blessed with broad shoulders that make dynamic pole moves look effortless, and their sturdy frame sure can make an impression when they stick a landing. Considering the cruel insults and judgments directed toward dudes that dance, laypeople should take note of all the positive attention and attraction male pole dancers receive from their amazed audiences.
This Is Me
Just like there’s more than one way to climb the pole, there’s more than one type of body for pole dance. That beautiful notion is on no finer display than with para pole. These extraordinary performers take their different abilities to dizzying heights in ways that showcase their singular style. This year’s Pole Con included the inaugural Para Pole Showcase for polers who are differently abled to shine on stage.
i’m In Love With A Stripper
As i have said previously, pole is a rapidly growing industry that owes it’s trendiness to the innovations started by strippers. They’ve made an honest living off that pole long before Rihanna recorded “Pour It Up”. Yet, strippers suffer from the stigma placed on them by mainstream society. This same society that populates strip clubs on Saturday nights while demonizing them on Sunday mornings. Strippers are people too, and their contributions have made pole what it is today. If husbands and housewives enjoy the sassy feel of swirling around at pole fitness classes, they should suspend the judgement and remember strippers did it first.
Taking Care of Business
Sex workers have been battling societal stigma for as long as their work’s been around. They have and continue to fight for legitimacy, while simultaneously striving for basic labor rights and safety protections. The recent shadow banning of the whole pole community started with the targeting of sex workers on social media. They are often an easy scapegoat for systemic problems and disproportionately punished compared to their clients. Sex workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, just like everybody else.
Let’s Get Physical
Nothing has ever given me a deeper more intense fitness experience than pole dancing has. Increased stamina, strength, and coordination have been exhilarating aspects of what i accomplish when i workout on the pole. At PoleFIT Revolution where i train, it feels like i can understand and express myself physically at a level i never imagined possible. For the past three years my pole performance troupe the PFRPT has been touring the country (including the last two PoleCons) taking our teamwork to the next level. The friends i’ve made at the studio have enriched my life with the magic we create when we come together. Their warmth and excitement are contagious, and we share a studio where fitness accompanies a strong sense of well-being for ourselves and each other. Pole fitness studios are like a support group where we lift one another up because we see each other’s potential. We motivate ourselves to movement by dancing in tandem (safety in numbers) and celebrate one another’s victories as if they were our own. The positive energy we share enables each one of us to summon the strength needed to push ourselves past our insecurities to reach our pole goals.
Sexy comes in all sizes, and these big beauties slay on the stage. They challenge unrealistic body standards while staying true to themselves no matter what size they are. These voluptuous knockouts sure know how to knock em dead. Body positivity is a concept we can all benefit from and there will be a plus sized panel at next year’s PoleCon to share some much-needed understanding. Self-acceptance is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
Born This Way
2018 was the grand debut of the Queer showcase where amazing artists from all over the LGBTTQQIAAP community could pole with pride. It takes bravery to boldly be yourself, and we admire all the performers who came out to perform. This year was also Pole Con’s very first queer panel to gain insight on these important and sometimes-sensitive issues in a supportive space. Allies and new friends of the family are always welcome to support of queer pole pals.
i Believe The Children Are Our Future (yeah it’s song lyric, not a title)
When my child’s friends come over for playdates, everybody rushes to play on the pole. They spin and climb with the same delight i did whirling myself around the support poles in my basement when i was a little girl. There’s nothing wrong or immoral with this form of play, and no children are being sexualized or exploited. One of these children takes gymnastic lessons, and she sees pole as an extension of that activity. In fact, she figured it out on her own. When we as adults speak to children about a particular subject, we characterize that subject by the words we choose. If i speak to my child and their friends about the age appropriate elements of pole, they are ready to listen because they possess a fresh perspective and an open mind. Their opinions are not calcified by decades of demeaning labels and preconceptions. Those of us with Olympic aspirations for pole, have to consider all the vital preparation and training required for young contenders to reach such an elite level of athleticism. Many an Olympian has credited dedication to their craft at an early age with the shining success of a medal. Long term training programs conducted by knowledgeable coaches will produce the next generation of pole superstars. They just need supportive mentors to give them the opportunity to succeed. Before long these bendy little ones will be busting out Fonjis and Rainbow Marchenckos while i still struggle with my handspring. When these disciplined young pole dancers are standing on the Olympic podium, i get to say i knew them when.
We all have a choice to focus our attention on our contrast or similarities. It’s much more fun to find common ground. Embracing our differences enables us to appreciate our individuality. When dancing, we get the opportunity to express our unique and original experience. We also have the option to tell a dazzling story direct from the fountain of our own imagination. For all the fuss thrown around by people who hate on the pole, the pole doesn’t really do anything at all (except @starpoles )So when people complain about pole, it’s really a manifestation of their judgement of the person pole dancing (and that’s just ignorant AF). Just be yourself and pole how you want to pole.
To ALL my pole pals:
i Believe In You and Me