A few days ago a post appeared on my Facebook newsfeed, containing a link to an article by a website called Geelong Advertiser. The article featured two pictures of a young girl hanging off a pole and the article was about a studio in Grovedale, Australia, that is offering pole-dancing classes to children as young as five-years-old. I didn’t actually read the article as I was quite caught up in the comments on the Facebook post on my newsfeed and if I am being frank they were actually quite rude and disrespectful.
The article has since been taken down, despite it still showing in the search results of the Geelong webpage, but I was so outraged that I remember some of the comments people had said. I was so frustrated by the disrespect of some of the people that I felt obligated to write a response containing my thoughts.
There is so much that I want to say and so much narrowmindedness and judgement in the comments I read, and they aren’t even some of the worst I read. So, I shall tackle some of the general comments and their points individually.
The parents are training the children early for their stripper careers – they’ll be loaded by the time they’re 15
First and foremost most people think of strippers when someone mentions pole dancing and I understand why. Pole dancing is common in strip clubs and is usually coupled with a female dancing seductively and body-rolling the pole wearing minimal clothes. Most people don’t actually realise that pole is a sport. For me, pole dancing and pole fitness are two different things, though most people use the phrases interchangeably. Pole dancing is more erotic whereas pole fitness is about the spins, inverts, climbs, holds and poses. Just because someone pole dances, doesn’t mean they are a stripper nor are they going to become one. There are similarities between the two but remember: all elephants are grey but not all grey things are elephants. All strippers may use a pole but that does not mean everyone who uses a pole is a stripper.
This is revolting. These child pornography classes will just attract the paedophiles. I suppose it will keep them off the streets at least.
Pole does not equal pornography. It is about strength and stamina, similar to a High Intensity Interval Training class or pilates. Are people off the street allowed to come into a gym and watch those classes? No. Similarly, people are not allowed to come in and watch pole classes, regardless of who is participating in the lesson.
Strippers are now being trained from childhood? Sick!
Again, pole fitness – and even pole dancing – does not involve stripping. There is no removal of clothes. Most pole fitness enthusiasts do wear quite ‘revealing’ clothes to practise the art of pole though this is because clothes hinder performance. How are you supposed to grip a pole with your thighs of steel with a piece of denim covering your skin? You wouldn’t think of doing pull-ups with wooly gloves on and you wouldn’t swim a 400m race in a wedding dress. You wear what is appropriate for your sport. Do people bat an eyelid when they see a child in a leotard for swimming or gymnastics or figure skating? How about sportstars like Jessica Ennis, famous British Heptathlete, who wears a cropped shirt and pants to compete in the Olympics – do people look down their nose at her for bearing her midriff? So why look down your nose at people who practise pole fitness?
I can’t think of anyone I know who wouldn’t find this unthinkably obscene
Hi, there, up on your high horse. I’m Taisie Odele and I don’t find this unthinkable obscene.
Sincerely, Openminded and Willing to Try New Things
Pole dancing moves are the same ones used in the strip clubs
First of all, has this person been to a strip club and a pole class? If so, he/she wouldn’t be saying this as a pole class is a true workout and completely unsexy, i.e. the opposite of a stripping dance. When I came home from my first pole lesson, I struggled to change gears in my car because my arms were so fatigued! And the faces I pulled, the grunts I made and the sweaty look I had achieved at the end of the lesson weren’t particularly sexy either.
Second, I won’t deny that there are some moves that are the same. Both strippers and polers walk around the pole and do spins but when you get to a beginner-advanced level of pole, the moves become drastically more difficult, less sexy and also less likely to appear in a strip club. I have never been to a strip club but I doubt a shouldermount appears very often. Not only are they unsexy on the most part, I don’t think guys want to see a bruised stripper or someone with a red-raw neck from a pole kiss!
Look at hockey and football: both involve hitting a ball into the goal but both are vastly different. Pole fitness and some stripping varieties both involve a pole and similar moves, but they are ultimately very different. Generally, pole fitness requires a much higher and more intense level of training than I imagine is provided for stripping, which uses the pole as more of a prop than a focal point.
What can you do at pole dancing that you can’t do at gymnastics?
What can you do at football that you can’t do at rugby or hockey? Again, there are similarities between pole fitness and gymnastics but personally, I don’t like the thought of balancing on a beam or handspringing off a vault. Neither of those attract me whereas the whole idea of pole just draws me in.
Imagine if these girls become passionate in this dance. There are no teams like gymnastics, only the stripper pole in their future.
If only some people did their research before making such comments. Not only are there regional competitions such as the Midlands Pole Championships but there are also national competitions (the UK Professional Pole Championships, Miss Pole Dance UK) and even international ones – International Pole Championship and Miss Pole Dance World.
A few final points about pole dancing/fitness that didn’t quite fit in any of the above comments:
- Contrary to popular belief, it didn’t originate in strip clubs. It originated over 800 years ago in the Indian sport of mallakhamb and has also been influenced by the Chinese pole – it is only since the 1980s that it has been associated with strip clubs. Furthermore, it is used in such shows as Cirque Du Soleil to show the strength, skill and technique required to perform pole.
- The International Pole Sport Federation are promoting a campaign to make pole fitness an Olympic Sport from 2016 onwards. My fingers are well and truly crossed.
- Pole fitness can be sexy in the aspect that it increases confidence and strength and who doesn’t want to see a strong and confident woman?! Or man – there are many men who pole as well!
- Pole fitness may have a lot of negative connotations but ultimately it is healthier than a child sitting at home and playing on their Xbox/computer/phone. Pole fitness gets people out and introduces them into a international community while providing them with skills they have in common with thousands of others around the globe.
As I draw to a close, I wil say that it seemed the primary reason most people don’t want children to go to pole fitness classes is because of the sexuality associated with a pole. But what I think is most important is that 5 year olds don’t know about the provocative side of pole dancing or stripping. What 5 year old does know about that? When they see the fireman’s pole in a playground, they don’t strip up against it. They climb it. Similarly to how they climb a pole in a studio. It is adults – not children – who view a pole in the sexualised manner. Children see it as something completely innocent and why wouldn’t they?
At the end of the day, you probably allow your children to use words like pussy cat and rabbit in their everyday life. But use the words pussy and rabbit to an adult and they can have a totally different meaning.
– Taisie ♥