A beautiful visual art form for all to enjoy!
Pole dancing is easily recognizable as one of the largest dance communities in the world, and knowing its origins can expand your understanding and respect for this physical art form. Whether choosing to pole dance for fitness, fun, or as a profession, there is a fascinating history of how the modern pole dancing we know today came to be.
What is Pole Dancing?
Pole dancing incorporates both dance and acrobatics around a standing pole and is showcased not only in entertainment clubs and on the stage, but also as a competitive sport and leisure sport. Pole dancing utilities physical strength and endurance, as well as technical skills.
While many dancers both male and female alike participate in pole dancing classes, skills and techniques are often honed over many years of practice and performance. With many different styles of pole dancing recognized, the term now covers a range of dance, art, and performance types.
How did pole dancing start?
While there is history of the male-dominated pole sports Mallakhamb from India and Chinese Pole from China, the modern pole dancing we know today began in the 1920’s with women utilising poles in circus tents to attract men’s curiosity. As a method of attracting men sexually, these early pole dancing attractions were to draw men in and be an erotic visual. In the 1950’s, strip clubs which promoted sensual dancing as entertainment began to open and led to a wider audience.
How did pole dancing evolve?
From the opening of strip clubs in the 1950’s that showcased pole dancing as a sexual attraction for the male gaze, pole dancing began to evolve and become more influenced by acrobatics. While initially seen solely as a way for men to enjoy the female body, with time and changing social climates pole dancing was able to evolve and grow.
As time went on, the form included movement and stripteases that highlighted the body’s strength while still celebrating feminine form and beauty. By the 1990’s, pole dancing was being taught as a sport or art form in many places and was enjoyed as not only a sexual performance but as a form of dance and self-expression. By the early 2000’s it was common for home instructional videos to be available, as well as a more social aspect to the dance.
With more people looking at pole dance as a sport or form of exercise, pole dancing competitions were being found easily in many countries such as Australia and the United States. This transferal from private men’s entertainment to artistic expression and sport meant that pole dancing was amassing a huge following, and with the gaining popularity the sport opened to include men as performers.
How did pole dancing become what we recognize today?
With the growing popularity of pole dancing as a form of exercise or art in the early 2000’s, the style continued to change to match the modern understanding of sexuality. What was once solely for men’s enjoyment became a way for women to embrace their bodies and take back ownership of their sexuality.
With pole dancing studios offering classes for dancers of all ages and skill levels, pole dancing became more mainstream and easily accessible. By the 2010’s, many studios were offering men spaces in the classes to learn, and in more recent years there has even been a strong uptick in unisex dance competitions and classes. Classes are available now for people of all ages and skill levels to enjoy, with even young adults and children being included occasionally as the sport is recognized as an extension of acrobatics.
There are even dedicated pole dancing costume brands that cater to the performance, such as pole dancing shoes from brands including Pleaser, Hella Heels, and more. These shoes are created especially for those who pole dance, with designs and styles specifically made for grabbing attention and helping the body to move in particular ways. With many pole dancing shoe brands offering unique styles, men and women are able to personalize their pole dancing outfits to match their own signature style!
Is pole dancing mainly for sport now?
While many people enjoy partaking in pole dancing as a form of exercise or as a sport they enjoy, it would be doing a disservice to not recognize that pole dancing is still utilized as a performance style in strip clubs around the world. With the evolving attitude towards female sexuality changing taboos in the modern world, pole dancing as a profession is no longer seen as something solely to be enjoyed by men in secluded areas.
Pole dancing is considered a lucrative career choice for many men and women, with clubs in a host of cities employing trained professionals. What was once seen as a secretive career is now generally considered mainstream; if not based in strip clubs, then as performers in other settings. There are many other business types that include pole dancers on staff, such as burlesque shows, and more.