Over the last two decades, pole dancing has emerged from strip clubs as a unique and highly expressive art that combines athleticism and sensuality. The product of dance traditions from across the world, contemporary pole comes in many different styles, not all of which are inherently sexual. Pole first appeared in strip clubs in the 60’s, but did not become synonymous with stripping until the 80’s. In the mid – 90’s, a Las Vegas-based dancer named Fawnia Dietrich revolutionized pole by offering the very first class, thereby making it available to non-strippers. Others soon followed suit, and pole rapidly gained popularity as a fitness trend that appealed to all kinds of people.
Questions to Explore
• To what extent did pole grow and evolve within strip clubs?
• How and why did pole dancing emerge from strip clubs, and how does this relate to current trends in feminism?
• What are the stigmas associated with pole dancing and how have they changed?
• In what ways has pole’s appeal to a wide range of people, regardless of athletic background, affected stereotypes and public perception of the dance form?
• What is the interplay between artistry, athleticism and sensuality in contemporary pole?
• What are the different styles of pole dancing and what factors have shaped them? Are they linked to certain geographical regions? How have competitions affected their development?
• In what ways has social media influenced the growth of pole?
• How has pole created such a tight-knit global family/community and what do members of the community share in common and take away from the experience?
Pole Dancing Facts
• Contemporary pole dancing is the product of traditions from across the world, including Chinese pole, Pole Mallakhamb from India, as well as exotic dance styles such as belly dance, Rhumba, Tango and burlesque.
• Pole dancing first appeared in strip clubs in the late 1960’s but was not popularized until the 1980’s.
• Fawnia Dietrich taught the first pole fitness class in 1994.
• There are currently over 600 pole fitness studios in the United States and 1500 total in over 85 countries around the world
• Pole dancing competitions began in strip clubs in the 1990’s. Today, there are competitions at all levels throughout the world.
• There is currently a movement to have pole dancing included in the 2020 Olympics.
Bobbi – In 2004, Bobbi opened Australia’s first pole studio in Sydney. A year later, she organized Miss Pole Dance Australia, one of the first competitions to launch stars in the community. Her studio now has additional branches in Perth, Malaysia and Singapore.
Fawnia Mondey – Fawnia started teaching pole dance in 1994 and produced the first instructional video in 1998. She is the founder of Pole Expo, an annual event that unites members of the community from all over the world, serves on the board of directors for the Pole Fitness Association and is a member of the Olympic Committee for the International Sports Federation.
Jamilla Deville – Jamilla was the first to win the title of Miss Pole Dance Australia in 2005. The creator of the best-selling Art of Pole DVD series, Jamilla is an internationally-awarded touring instructor and performer with 15 years of experience.
Josiah Grant – By the time Bad Azz was seven, the fantasy had begun. He would often sneak away from his scheduled gymnastic assignments to …experiment with an unprecedented routine all on his own. By 16, he was hooked on the idea of becoming proficient, and he secretly purchased his own vertical, retractable pole for his bedroom. He practiced this obsession in secret, having no mentor to guide him. He knew his artist flow was taking him where no male before him had gone, and he was nonetheless undaunted. For the next three years, he studied insatiably to improve his craft. Hip hop, gymnastics, ballet, and contortion lessons filled his high school roster of events, before and after class hours. The result of this diligence is Bad Azz, the premiere male pole dancer in the United States. He has been featured on the Dr’s Show. During this notable segment, the cast of The Doctors joked about men getting involved on the pole, and Bad Azz played the role a regular audience member challenged to try a trick or two. He dazzled their broad viewing audience with a skillful performance. He has been a recurring guest on the Jerry Springer Show, again featured as a gifted anomaly to the pole dancing community. He has also appeared on ABC Family, MTV, TruTV, and his own series of pole instructional videos, and countless brief television appearances and interviews.
Karol Helms – A self-taught pole dancer, Karol began posting videos of her pole dance journey on YouTube and quickly built a following in the newly emerging online community. As the 2009 USPDF East Coast Champion, and the 2010 USPDF U.S. Pro Championships Runner Up, she has travelled around the world instructing and sharing her love of the art and sport with countless others. Karol serves as a brand ambassador for Bad Kitty, X-Pole, Glitter Heels, Diamond Diva Designs, and Girlie Grip. She’s also one of three brand directors for Bad Kitty’s exclusive PoleFit line of pole specific fitness apparel, the first line of workout apparel designed specifically for pole fitness by actual pole dance professionals.
Marion Crampe – Marion discovered pole dancing in 2006 and instantly fell in love with it. She took the national title in France and placed third at the IPC World Championships in 2012. Her unique and emotional style combines dance and contortion. She travels the world performing, teaching and sharing her passion.
Natasha Wang – Natasha began taking pole classes in 2006 with no prior experience in dance or gymnastics and began competing in 2009. Through her performances with the Los Angeles-based Girl Next Door Show, Natasha discovered how storytelling, emotion, and physicality could converge to create pole art. Her titles include 2013 IPC Ultimate Champion, 2012 Pole Art Runner-Up, 2011 US Pole Dance Champion and 2010 USPDF West Coast Champion. She put her career as a publicist on hold in 2011 to pursue her pole career and travels the world teaching and performing.
Nicole Williams aka Nicole “ThePole” has a media heavy resume that reads like an A-list celebrity. There are appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Access Hollywood, The Insider and Ricki Lake. She taught Nick Lachey how to pole dance on VH1, showed the crew from Cosmopolitan magazine her moves, even gave the Grammy winning gospel group Mary Mary pole dance lessons. She has appeared in Diesel’s campaign for i-d Magazine, was the first African American to create a pole dance instructional DVD series and has one of the biggest studios in Los Angeles.
Torwa Joe – Twerking long before Miley, Torwa Joe has been a certified aerobics instructor since 1998 and a pole fitness instructor since 2005. The owner of Vertical Joe’s Fitness Studio in Atlanta, she has toured with rapper Lil’ Wayne, performed with Ludacris, and appeared on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Braxton’s Family Values.
Karina Rahardja – Producer
Bryan Bailey – Editor/Producer
Will Kamp – Director of Photography
David Franklin – Audio Director