As with so many things linked with sex and sexuality, pole dancing was born from moral and honourable origins. As it evolved, the art and principals of the dance got hidden under a mask of debauchery, stigma and decadence, snowballing from a tribal ritual into an erotic pleasure, and picking up a world of prejudices, ignorance and judgement along the way.
Having experienced this bias first-hand after being chastised for taking a pole dancing lesson myself, I decided to clear up a couple of preconceived ideas about the mysterious and seductive art of ‘The Pole’. Here are some interesting fact and insights into this weird, wonderful and exotic world.
Origin: Pole dancing as we know it today is worlds away from the plethora of cultural influences it has accumulated over the centuries. The Chinese were using the pole for fitness and circus entertainment as far back as the 12th century, and some of their moves are still being performed today. In India, over 800 years ago, wrestlers were using the pole for training and also created a competitive sport using the pole based on yoga which tested precision, speed, reflexes, concentration, co-ordination and agility.
Erotic Influence: While the origins of pole dancing lean heavily towards the athletic end of the spectrum; an undeniable sensual and erotic influence has infiltrated the sport as we know it today. And that’s ok. In fact it’s great, because if you see any of the beautiful, strong and professional women who really know how to work the pole, it’s not sleazy, it’s not degrading, it’s empowering. And although the haters are always going to hate, look around you folks, numerous dance forms through history and across cultures have had a strong sexual influence. Belly dancing, Rumba, Tango. All these hip swaying dances are suggestively sexual. However the real origins of the exotic pole dancing of the west come from the travelling fairs of the 1920’s American depression, where women would dance around the poles holding the tents in place. And the original name of the dance? The ‘Hoochi Coochi’!
Not Just For Sex: Pole dancing has further evolved since its Hoochi Coochi days and is now a serious sport, taught in schools and practised for fitness purposes. In fact it is currently being evaluated as a serious addition into the hallowed grounds of the Olympic Games. That’s right – One day soon, pole dancing may well be a competitive Olympic sport! Respect!
Strength and Skill: And while the heavy weights, the runners, the throwers and the lifters might all sneer at the thought of scantily clad ladies writhing on a pole in their sacred Olympic Games, the sport demands more strength and skill than anything I’ve ever tried before. Serious pole dancers need incredible amounts of core strength, upper body power, stamina and endurance. After just one session my arms and shoulders ached and my poor unworked core felt fully worked out!
Physically Demanding: It’s not just strength and stamina that these dancers need to perform; sliding up and down on a pole for hours, holding yourself in gravity defying positions, using only your body to grip the metal is hugely physically demanding and most professionals will always be sporting burns and bruises as a result of the activity. In fact, back in the day the bruises and burns garnered from training and performing on the pole became a mark of respect amongst artists.
Unisex: Talking of which, while pole dancing today is a predominantly female orientated field. When people first started using the pole for sport, performance and fitness, the majority of those practising were male. Nowadays in India the national ‘Pole’ championships is a very male dominated environment in which women do not even participate.
Confidence Boost: Many people today associate pole dancing with a sleazy scene where women are objectified and degraded, but let me tell you from first-hand experience, one of the most surprising outcomes of my personal dabble with the art of the pole was the feeling of empowerment, confidence and inner power that I felt. These women are in control. They control their bodies, they control their audience and they command an inherent respect and awe. This is girl power at its sexiest.
Hen Parties: Last but definitely not least, pole dancing is pure unadulterated fun and a GREAT way to get your hen group to bond over each other’s attempts to swing around the pole with grace and ease. It’s not easy, but giggling about your failed moves and triumphant successes is a fantastic ice breaker and an energising activity to start a night out. In conclusion, let’s face it ladies, we need to learn to embrace our feminine guiles. Our sexuality, and sex in general, should be celebrated not chastised. So before you judge, before you form an uneducated opinion, before you listen to the preconceptions of others, take the leap, don your Bride-To-Be sash and take your hen group on a journey to discover your inner pole dancing champion.