Pole dancing

From The Original Sex Wiki

Pole dancing is a form of dancing that uses a vertical pole as both a stationary prop and an acrobatic tool. It is primarily a solo dance performed by girls, though nothing precludes guys from doing it as well. A good performer requires both muscular strength (particularly upper body strength) and sensuality in their movements. Pole dancing is not synonymous with stripping, although the two often go together to varying degrees.

Contents

History

Pole dancing originated in strip clubs. Strippers danced around a vertical brass pole and used it as a prop for some of their moves. In the mid 1990's a group of strippers started performing aerial or acrobatic moves on those poles - this was the birth of pole dancing as we now know it. In the early 2000's, with more strippers teaching each other 'pole moves', it became a fashionable underground dance. Several strip clubs opened their doors during the day to classes of women who wanted to learn it too. A few years later dancers began setting up dedicated pole dancing schools to teach acrobatic pole dancing to the general populous. These schools together with the media coverage they generated sparked a new craze in learning to pole dance as a form of fitness.

The Pole and Stage Area

The stage area is a circular or square area at least 1.2m (4') in diameter, and preferably over 2m (6'8") in diameter. The unobstructed area surrounding the pole should be at least 1.2-1.5m (4-5') in all directions for safety reasons. The stage itself may be either elevated (as in table dancing) or on the floor. Both thin carpet and wood floors are ok.

The pole is a fixed vertical pole. Usually it is mounted via brackets on the floor and ceiling. Coffee table poles are also available in which there is no ceiling mount but rather the pole extends below a raised stage that acts as a counterweight. The options for poles are numerous:

  • Thickness. Standard thickness is either 50mm (2") or 38mm (1.5"). 38mm is an older standard that is gradually being phased out, though many existing establishments will retain these poles for a long time yet. 38mm poles are said to be easier for gripping with hands, whilst 50mm poles are said to be easier for gripping with legs.
  • Surface. The "stickiest" through to "slipperiest" surfaces are Titanium > Brass > Chrome Steel > Stainless Steel. Stickier poles are used for acrobatic style dances whilst slippery poles are used merely as props. The surface most commonly found in clubs and show venues is brass.
  • Spinning/non-spinning. Contrary to popular belief, dancers don't generally perform spinning moves on a non-spinning (stationary) pole. Poles that spin are specially designed for such moves, and are built with ball bearing fittings for this purpose. Some moves are more easily performed on a stationary pole and some on a spinning pole.
  • Fixed/removable. Fixed poles are mounted to the floor and ceiling by fittings screwed into the joists. Removable poles use a variety of friction based methods (e.g. gel pads) and tension tightening to be held in place. The friction methods employed by removable poles predominantly only stop lateral slippage of the pole; the vertical weight of the pole and dancer is carried through the metal and down onto the floor surface.

Depending on the combination of factors selected, each pole will provide for a slightly different dance experience. No one style is absolutely better; each is more suitable for different styles of dance and dancer.

Dance Styles

There are two basic pole dancing styles:

  • Stripper style. This is the original use of poles meant for dancing. The pole is a theatrical prop and a railing. As a prop it is used as a play item or phallus for erotic moves such as rubbing the crotch or hands along its length. As a railing it is used to help retain balance whilst the dancer performs moves such as leg splits. Predominantly the dancer remains on the ground, with the exception of simple spins where they may be suspended by the pole for several seconds. This style requires sensuality in movement.
  • Acrobatic style. This style was developed by several strippers wanting to make better use of the pole as an apparatus, similar to the use of suspended rings or horizontal bars in gymnastics. The dancer performs gymnastic contortions on the pole. Predominantly they are off the ground for the duration of each move and use the ground mainly as a launching and landing pad; the pole suspends them for the majority of each move. This style requires strength and flexibility.

Most contemporary performances are a combination of the two styles. Dancers will alternate between performing several acrobatic moves and then several stripper moves, and often mix in other forms of dance such as jazz ballet. This is necessary both to give variety to the performance and to create rest breaks between tiring acrobatic moves.

Costumes, Stripping and Skin treatments

Pole dancing costumes are brief, often only a crop top and short shorts or hot pants. This is necessary because the dancer uses their skin to grip the pole; this includes legs, thighs, arms, shoulders and stomach skin too. Also, because of the sensual nature of it, dancers are used to performing in small costumes. Stripping is not part of acrobatic pole dancing, in fact several major acrobatic pole dancing competitions prohibit stripping further than bra and g-string/thong. Stripping is of course the major point of stripper style pole dancing and is therefore required. Depending on the venue, audience and style of dance being performed, the dancer will often start with a dress, gown or cape and strip through the duration of their show to either bra and hot pants, bra and g-string, topless and g-string, or full nude.

Dancers traditionally wear stripper style platforms. The sole of these shoes have a non-slip suede or felt base that maintains grip for the dancer's feet even when they sweat. The frame of the shoe has a high strength core that can handle the punishing loads. The platform under the toes provides a means to pivot and swivel, and also protects the toes from impacting with the floor. The shoe must have a solid ankle closure or other means to secure the ankle. However, in many fitness based classes such shoes are not required (or in some schools even discouraged).

Dancers performing stripper style will often coat their skin in body lotion, body glitter or moisturizer to give it a more alluring sheen. Acrobatic style dancers do not adorn these substances as they make the pole more slippery and thus easier to fall off. Instead they may use several layers of shaving cream or hairspray on themselves to make their skin more sticky and therefore easier to grip the pole.

Pole Dancing as Exercise

In recent years pole dancing has exploded out of the strip clubs and into mainstream fitness. Girls (and occasionally guys) take pole dancing classes either at dedicated studios with fixed poles, or other venues with removable poles installed. The classes are like any other dance class, except that the room is full of poles for each student to practice their moves. Each school has it's own version of the craze with some teaching sensual stripperesque styles, and others teaching pure fitness. The sensual schools favour "frills" such as sexy and brief costumes, show performances, high heels, etc. The pure fitness schools eschew such extras, typically because their clientèle is less comfortable with such things.

There are usually around half a dozen distinct levels in pole dancing school ranging from beginners through intermediate and to advanced. Beginners moves are quite easy and require little strength or flexibility. Intermediate classes are where initial suspensions from the pole and inversions usually start. Advanced classes require great strength and flexibility, dealing with demanding contortions and suspensions from the pole. Few students who progress to upper level classes ever make to the transition to paid performers; most treat it as an ongoing hobby like an aerobics class.

Warnings

  • Do not dance on a pole that is not set up specifically for dancing, e.g. sign posts, furniture railings etc. Such poles may not hold your weight.
  • Always wear a g-string or thong when on the pole. You may be exposed to herpes and other STDs by rubbing your uncovered crotch on a pole.
  • Never dance drunk. You may fall and hit your head very badly.
  • Take it easy when you start. The loads that pole dancing places on your body are in directions that we do not normally experience in day to day life. You may easily injure a muscle if you are not prepared.

Give it a go!

You don't need to have a strong background in dance or strength training to start pole dancing. You can start the basics with no prior related experience and develop the skills required as you progress. It's fun, it improves your self confidence, and you develop a great body too.

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