When you hear pole dancing, most people would associate it with gentlemen clubs, when it is so much more. Pole dancing can be an amazing demonstration of flexibility, strength and endurance, much like gymnastics. Have you ever wondered where pole dancing came from, I can tell you now it didn’t come from the “brilliant” inventors of the strip club. I wondered the same thing, so I went off and did some research.
Using a pole for exercise has actually been around for centuries! Mallakhamb, a traditional Indian sport, has been around since 1135 AD. While there is no “dancing” per se, they preform acrobatic feats and poses while on a wooden pole 8 ½ feet in the air with a diameter of 55 cm (which is much wider than the 40-50 cm diameter of a pole in pole dancing).
While Mallakhamb has similarities, the real influence of pole dancing comes from Chinese pole, which is a form of acrobatics that was preformed (and still is) in cabarets and circuses. Chinese pole is also another sport/performance dated back to the 12th century! It was performed on poles that were anywhere between 9 feet to 29 feet in the air, which is absolutely insane! The pole was laced with a rubber to provide better grip for the performers, although it caused many friction burns. They performed in costumes and did amazing acrobatic feats, among the most impressive is ‘the flag’ which I know as ‘the iron X’ (Way more bad ass)
Now of course there is also an erotic influence in pole, so we’ll talk about that! Pole dancing in strip clubs began in the early 1980’s in Canada (Go Canada!) Erotic pole dancing was heavily influenced by burlesque and while pole fitness isn’t about taking off clothes, we do sport some very revealing costumes. But that is usually because we need our skin to grip the pole and we could not do that in full costume. In 1994 the first erotic dance school was opened in Canada by Fawnia Dietrich. It soon after that moved to the States as more schools were opened.
Today pole is a worldwide practiced form of fitness, with studios, competitions, classes and even academies popping up everywhere! They have even been making the effort to get pole dancing in the Olympics. The IPDFA has been pushing for the Olympic committee to recognize pole dancing as a sport. Which really it should be, it’s just like gymnastics, and if they can perform on beams and rings, why can’t they perform on vertical poles? Not all dances are erotic, just as the dances in gymnastics are not erotic. Avid pole dancers have been pushing pole dancing away from the strip clubs as much as possible in order for people to take it seriously.
So there you have it, a brief history of pole dancing, bet you didn’t know half of this, but now you do! And if you did, good for you, you now understand the everyday struggle we go through to try and explain to people that pole dancing has been a sport for far longer than it has been an erotic dance in strip clubs.
Until tomorrow mes amours!