My Passion For Pole
In my experience, when talking to people about pole dancing, the first thing that usually springs to their minds is scantily clad women grinding up and down a pole in a strip club. I have to say although we may be scantily clad, the type of pole dancing that I, and many other hundreds of women (and men!), are increasingly turning to certainly doesn’t involve grinding.
I have been pole dancing regularly since the beginning of 2008. I had seen a video on YouTube of a woman pole dancing – but not in the “traditional” way. Instead she seemed to be doing a mixture of gymnastics and ballet, moves which seemed so extreme they blew my mind! I could not even begin to get my head around the fact that she was upside down at the top of a pole, doing the splits and only holding on with one hand.
Shortly after watching that particular clip, I purchased my own pole and started learning moves by watching videos online. It did not take long for my passion for pole dancing to develop. My obsession had started!
After a while I decided that I wanted lessons, but they were too expensive for me to afford on my non-existent student income. Instead, through the Student’s Union at my university, The University of Nottingham I set up the Nottingham Pole Dancing Society. Since then I have taken part in Nottingham Uni’s Got Talent, Pole Varsity, Pole Divas and Rock and Pole nights with our uni Rock Soc. I love pole dancing to rock music but as long as you feel the music you can pole dance to absolutely anything.
So now you know a little bit about why I do pole dancing. I am sure you are still wondering what this new sport entails and what makes it different from the pole dancing you are used to hearing about. Read on…
Pole fitness is thought to have started in Canada in the 1980s. A Canadian, Fawnia Mondey, is one of the world’s first pole dancing champions, she began teaching and created the first instructional DVD. It is from there that pole dancing as a sport really took off.
It is only recently that pole dancing as a form of exercise has started to become more widely accepted. Without having tried it first, most people do not realise the physical strength, skill and flexibility required to master even the simplest moves on the pole let alone the more advanced ones.
I see pole dancing as a form of performing art; it combines not only gymnastics, but various other forms of dance and sport. There is literally no end to the different styles and sports that you can integrate with pole dancing. It involves dancing around a vertical pole and performing various moves by using strength and grip from both the hands and legs. Some moves even require grip from just your underarm or hip.
However, pole dancing for fitness by no means renders it boring or unappealing, it can still be as sexy as you want it to be, while being skillfull and impressive. It is a sport that incorporates many styles of dance including belly dancing and ballet. It takes hours of practice and builds up your core strength and flexibility. When first starting you do not realise how much you are using your muscles until the next four days when you cannot move!
Pole dancing has really come along due to the extreme and advanced nature of some of the tricks and transitions allowing for healthy competition all over the world. There are many competitions in which amateurs and professionals and other levels in between can take part in. Each has their own rules and requirements, for example on shoes and costume and compulsory trick elements, such as single or double spins, or a quota of inverted moves. Some of the UK national competitions including Miss Pole Dance UK, PoleDivas Championships and British Isles Pole Dance Competition. Worldwide competitions include Miss Pole Dance Europe and Miss Pole Dance world. There are also online competitions, where participants submit a video. There is even a petition to get pole dancing into the Olympics.
I took part in Pole Divas UK 2009 and got through to the Advanced Amateur finals in Manchester. It was a great experience and the level of the dancers was absolutely amazing! It really inspired me to want to get better.
Check out upcoming events to look out for this year.
Who’s Who in Pole Dancing?
There are many a household name of pole dancers that really are exceptional and who everyone seems to aspire to be like. They first became well known through various competitions. Felix Cane and Jenyne Butterfly are definitely two of my heroes, amongst many others. If you watch the videos below, you will understand why!
Amongst many other achievements, she has won the titles of:
- Miss Pole Dance World 2009/10
- Miss Pole Dance Australia 2008/09
- Miss Pole Dance Australia 2006/07
I absolutely love this woman! She’s so strong.
- Pole-A-Palooza Champion 2006, 2007
- US Pole Dancing Championship 2009 – 1st
- World Pole dance Sport & Fitness Championships 2009 – 2nd
How To Get Started:
Our standard pole is 50mm circumference, hollow and made of either steel or brass with various finishings, which affect the grip. Many other poles are available such as the 45mm which people with smaller grip sometimes prefer. The 38mm is also widely used and one that, I personally, find a lot easier to do tricks on, although it does feel a lot less stable as there is less to grip with your legs. There are several different type of pole, including the X-pole, which is portable and extends to different ceiling heights depending on the different attachments used and only takes about 5 minutes to put up and take down. There are free standing poles of which many extend from the centre of a small stage, some of which are portable. Lastly, the new R pole uses only a small flat base on the floor and is also completely portable.
Once you have your pole, or a pole to use, the advice to “wear as little as possible” may get you thinking that IT IS just a sleazy activity hiding behind the category of fitness, but the reasons behind this is that skin is needed in order to keep you onto the pole. The friction that it creates allows you to grip and reduces the chance of you slipping off- something we are all prone to doing at some point, and one of the reasons my friend’s parents bought her a helmet for Christmas! You want to make sure you have adequate coverage though, the last thing you want when hanging upside down off a pole is nipple slippage or your privates on show.
In order to find out where to get lessons near you, visit WikiPole , a brilliant site set up by Lola Cherry Cola, where there are listings of many pole schools, a move and spin directory and other pole related links. Just remember not to be intimidated or think that you will not be good enough. Everyone, no matter how good they are now, started somewhere!
What To Expect
Apart from aching muscles and limbs, another pole dancing hazard is pole bruises. These are very common and it’s always amusing trying to figure out what pole move caused which bruise. But we wear them proudly because it usually means wehave done something new! They are like our battle scars! There are a lot of pain barriers that you need to go through for pole dancing. For example I wanted to cry every time I had to do the knee hold when I first started to practice, but now I can do it a few times in a row before it begins to hurt.
For some it takes a few sessions before people get used to the pole and start seeing progress. Many stop before they give themselves a chance to improve. Coming from a non-dance background (I have the rhythm of a narcoleptic goat), I often find it hard to do the dance side of pole dancing… You’re probably wondering what is left if you take the dance out of pole dancing… I personally prefer the tricks! The great thing about pole dancing is that anyone of any shape, size, age and physical ability can take part.
You can really tell the amount of effort people put into pole dancing. It is not easy, and some of the more advanced moves are simply mind boggling. It feels like such an achievement when you finally nail a move that you’ve been working on for hours, days or even months. I think everyone knew about my twisted grip handspring within about 10 minutes of me achieving it for the third time (my friends and I always say we have to do a move 3 times to be able to claim to do it).
There are pole schools globally and countless workshops and masterclasses where people of all ages, body shapes and skill levels can take part. Boots have estimated that up to 290 calories per hour can be burnt while doing it! I don’t know about anyone else but I definitely prefer it to going to the gym!
The Ten Commandments of Pole
- Thou Shalt Not Wear Moisturisers, Oils, Body Lotions
- Thou Shalt Not Pole Under the Influence of the Grape
- Thou Shalt Not Purchase a Peekaboo pole
- Thou Shalt Not Moan About Loss of Skin, Friction Burns and Bruises
- Thou Shalt Covet Thy Neighbour’s Footwear and Supergrip chalk
- Thou Shalt Wear Shorts that Provide Adequate Coverage
- Thou shalt Make Regular Habit of Keeping Oneself Thoroughly Groomed at all Times
- Thou Shalt Trust the Pole
- Thou Shalt Not Kick Thy Pole Instructor in the Head Whilst Doing a Move Unsanctioned by the Teacher
- Thou Shalt Not Allow Unskilled Men to Set up One’s Poles
Despite the obvious skill needed for this form of exercise, there is still a lot of stigma attached to it, and we often have people coming up to us telling us that what we do is disgusting… But this is usually before they have even seen us… I do not expect to have changed anybody’s minds about how they view pole dancing, but hopefully I have at least inspired a few people to try it, or at least to check out some of the videos online! It’s such a fun activity and can really impress and awe those watching.
Studio Veena Forum
JK Defies Gravity
Felix’s YouTube Channel
Alethea’s YouTube Channel
Shadow Pole Queen’s YouTube Channel
REDKE71′s YouTube Channel
My YouTube Channel (pales in comparison!)