Home > Health and Well-being, Pole and Aerial Work, Uncategorized > Pole Dancing: It’s Not Just For Strippers Anymore

Pole Dancing: It’s Not Just For Strippers Anymore

I keep forgetting that not everyone has the same frame of reference as I do when it comes to pole dancing.  As someone who absolutely adores the art, I feel that I have a small responsibility to let people in on what I know a about it.  And the first thing I want people to know is that pole dancing is not just for strippers anymore.  I am not oblivious to the fact that the pole is a preferred prop for many performers working in the gentleman’s clubs, and is often referred to as a stripper’s pole. But as my friend and pole instructor, Minda, once said, strippers use chairs as props, too, and no one is calling the apparatus we all sit on a stripper’s chair.  Of course, the reason we don’t refer to chairs as stripper’s chairs is because we have found other uses for them beyond being instrumental during a lap dance.  Humans are pretty resourceful and clever that way.  It turns out that we have also figured out uses for a pole that go beyond using it for a prop to grind on–not that there’s anything wrong with that, what ya’ll do in the privacy of your own home, strip club or spring break is totally your business and no one else’s.  I don’t judge and, before I go further, it’s only fair to mention that some exotic dancers also happen to be highly skilled pole dancers.

For a growing number of us (including professional women, housewives, mothers and media moguls . . .) who practice pole dancing, it means something more than prancing around a prop wearing a naughty schoolgirl uniform.  For starters, it’s an outrageous upper body and core workout.  I’d have to do a fair amount of weight lifting and abdominal work to get the strength and definition I get from pole dancing.  If I wore platform heels during a practice, I’d also get a good leg and butt workout.  Pole dancing has borrowed elements from the aerial arts (static trapeze, silks, hoop, etc.) so for those of us who like the idea of climbing on things and hanging upside down up in the air while making pretty shapes with our bodies, doing pole work is pure playtime.  It also reminds me a lot of being a kid playing with my friends on the monkey and hanging bars on the school yard, when we encouraged each other to try new tricks–the more challenging, the better (my favorite was the “dead man drop”).  Because of its physical and challenging nature, pole dancing is a positive way to release stress and tension. It’s hard to focus on what a jerk your boss is when you are inverted on a pole supporting your entire body weight with just the crook of your elbow of one arm and the opposite hand of the other while balancing in a straddle.

For some examples of the athleticism and art that can be expressed using a pole, check out these video clips of two guys performing a Chinese pole act and Jenyne Butterfly performing a strong and graceful dance on the pole.

I’m not saying that pole dancing can’t or shouldn’t be sexy.  In fact, that is a big draw for many women who to take it up in the first place (who doesn’t want to feel sexy?)! Pole dancing, like other forms of dance, absolutely has a sensual element inherently built into it.  Look at the Rhumba, the Tango (both have racy histories, by the way) or any of the other latin ballroom dances—Hot!  And these dances are performed openly—more like brazenly flaunted–in front of families, dignitaries and Brooke Burke.   These forms of dance require strength, conditioning and dedication to master, just like pole dancing.  Those of us who are drawn to dance, sports or any physically demanding activity know how good it feels to be in our bodies and fully focused on the activity we are performing.  We come alive, we are fully present in the moment and we are compelled to give our best effort. Whether we are elite or recreational athletes, we learn something very valuable from our participation that impacts the rest of our lives: we learn how capable we really are.  Pole dancing is just one more way that we can discover this and once we do, we are in pole position (pun intended) to achieve our non-athletic goals, too.

Want to know what else pole dancing can do you for you? Check out the details for the Comeback Diva workshop Minda Ruggles and I are leading in San Diego this month if you’d like to learn what pole dancing can teach you about setbacks, recovery and achieving your goals.

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  1. Judy Campbell
    October 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Hi, Emiko, it’s your Aunt Judy. How proud I am of your pursuits. Back in the ’70s I took up running and I think it helped me succeed when I went to college at the age of 28 with a husband and two kids at home. Of course a small loan from your grandpa and Dale’s job at CAT made it possible. The friends and family who encouraged me did more good than they will ever know. Why running? I didn’t believe I had any talent for doing “routines” but I knew just about anybody could put one foot in front of the other. Anyway running helped me learn to persevere, to just keep putting that foot in front of the other. I guess you’d call that commitment. You have learned that it’s the little successes that lead to the big ones. If the the big success we think we need never occurs we can be grateful for the small ones. I like your comments about worry and letting go. I remember reading in some church literature about “Letting Go and Letting God”. At a prayer seminar several years ago we did an exercise where we held an object on our laps. The object was our worries and burdens. I imagine taking the burden off my lap and just handing it to God when I pray. What a great feeling to know we never have to be alone even if we wind up penniless.

  2. October 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks Aunt Judy! I love how much being physical can teach us about the non-physical stuff. Even in yoga, the goal isn’t to do the poses well, it’s to prepare the body for meditation which is, essentially, grounding yourself in the present moment. I like to think of my physical pursuits as meditation in action! Sounds like you learned some valuable lessons from running 🙂

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