Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh, The Sexy Has Been Broughten...or Something Like That

Last week, I posted about UPA's Bringing Sexy Back Week.

Today, I present to you my video:

I believe that "sexy" means different things to different people.  I don't really think I embody the popular sense of the word.  But what makes me feel sexy is being comfortable in my own skin and being able to turn down the lights and dance like no one is watching.  This free dance was kind of hard for me because I had a few people in the studio watching while I taped it.  I also felt like I danced a little stronger in my first attempt, but I slipped a little during a spin then laughed, so I scrapped that one.  I taught class then filmed my second attempt between classes after I was all sweaty.  I was a little more tired but I also think that helped me slow down a little bit (and I feel like I still need to slow down even more).

There is a battle being waged on Facebook.  This week, I have seen Pink Pole Power's posts about bringing elegance daily.  I don't know if it is directly in response to UPA's Bringing Sexy Back Week, but the timing would indicate that it might be related.  (Side note: even though I started this sentence talking about waging war...I didn't mean to indicate that Pink Pole Power was the one waging the war.  I am referring to some conversations I've had with other people on Facebook.  No disrespect meant to PPP, I love them!)

My friend brought up on Facebook that she was tired of hearing about the pole fitness versus pole dancing debate.  She personally wasn't interested in the sexy side of pole dance but she liked that pole dance was versatile enough to embrace all types of dance.  But she also didn't like the debate because she thinks everyone should be accepted.  I don't want to blame the Olympics push, but there are definitely some groups that would like to see a little bit of a divide so that they can distance themselves from the strip club roots.  And I feel like this debate will continue to happen, along with other growing pains, as our industry becomes more mainstream.  There will be those who need and want pole dance to be more like gymnastics -- very tricks-based and not sexy whatsoever.  And there will be those who remember the roots of the sport -- and actually dancing around a pole. 

I am not saying there is not room for every kind of pole dance.  But I do not believe that this debate will be going away any time soon.

I know the quote from Claire at The Pole Story has also stirred some controversy:

If for some reason, the idea of your dancing being connected to the strip club scene is upsetting to you, if you desperately need to distance what you do from what those “other girls” do, if you truly believe that you are doing this because it’s just a really good workout, then I strongly suggest you spend some time thinking about why you chose pole dancing.  Because there are a million ways to get fit without putting on six inch stilettos, a bikini and swinging sensually around a pole.

So what about those girls who don't wear six inch stilettos and tiny bikinis?  What if you don't dance "sexy" at all?  While I understand that dancing in shoes, or dancing sexy in general, is not for everyone, I don't believe Claire means specifically that every single pole dancer has or will strap on six inch stilettos and dance like a stripper from a rap video (and, I am not speaking for Claire here, I am only telling you how *I* took her quote).  To me, she is saying, if the stigma attached to pole dancing bothers you so much, maybe you should find another source for exercise.  

So the debate continues.  I know I am instigating it by continuing to write about it.  But the topic interests me and the number of people reading these posts seems to indicate they are interested as well.

Please tell me how you feel about the debate.  Be kind to your fellow pole dancers, though!  Every type of pole dancing is accepted here!


  1. How many re-posts and people joining in has "bringing elegance daily" managed?
    Hmmm. my whole facebook seems filled with Alethea Austin's poster and HOT videos.
    I TOTALLY agree with CGS.

    It makes me a bit angry that there are number of people who would rather see the sexy stripper style brushed under the carpet. But it was the strippers who first thought to teach the skills (initially to get more dancers in the clubs), then teach more formal classes, and then the girls who had learned took it and taught it, until we have the huge industry we have today. Without them we would HAVE NO POLE LESSONS. (no matter how you try to say it comes from chinese pole or whatever other fanciful idea you came up with).
    People take pole dancing lessons BECAUSE it's sexy, risqué, rebellious etc. Fitness is the EXCUSE that makes it ok in their head or to tell others.

    It's OK to be like "those girls" (the strippers), don't be ashamed of it. That's WHY we're here.

  2. I wrote about this on my blog recently. When I first started pole I was always careful to label it as pole fitness as I was worried about being labelled by people. But now that I have grown more comfortable with myself and my hobby I don't really care what people think.
    I'm pretty neutral about the debate at this point. I understand where both sides are coming from but I have learned to enjoy both the dance and fitness aspects of Pole.

    I love dance and I pole dance. I'm not a shoe fan while dancing but I enjoy my hip dips and body waves. I have my own style and I don't really want to categorize it. I love that pole gives me the flexibility to create my own style.
    Also I loved your bring the sexy back dance. :)

  3. This is an interesting read, but I must say I do not believe that there is any type of war being waged on Facebook. CEO of Pink Pole Power Stated: "I was asked if I was against "bringing sexy back week". In Pink Pole Power terms feeling sexy plays an important role for Women recovering from breast cancer. Sexy in pole dancing is a given and has a lot of levels from trashy to classy. I personally don't focus on the sex appeal aspects because it's built in and a lot of people do a great job at promoting that aspect already."...

    Being said, I am not sure as to where a "war" is being staged. His mission is to use pole fitness to help raise awareness and support for Breast Cancer, not to "bring sexy back" to pole. People do what they do for different reasons and just because everyone has a different point of view about pole and its sexuality related, there doesn't mean there is any type of war, yet... someone being able to express their personal view on a situation freely as they should because it is their Facebook. Do I think bringing sexy back week is really necessary? Nah... But I have to say that I am enjoying what I see :)

    I follow Pink Pole Power as much as I do your blog (which I do truly enjoy ;) But I believe that in all fairness before anyone calls out any person online for the world to read, some type of communication and clarification should be attempted at the least. Pole is such a wonderful thing and it is ridden with enough challenges already. The last thing we need is some type of division in the community due to some type of misunderstanding.

    Do I believe the sexy side of pole should be ignored? Absolutely not. I myself love throwing on the chrome stilettos and doing some body waves. But in my career, I have to stick to the "fitness" aspect of pole and that is hardly accepted enough. Now imagine if I said I pole dance!

    Pole definitely has a long way to go, and its going to take a lot more time to open up minds as to how amazing pole really is. Let all aspects of pole be appreciated, from the polerina to the super-sexy pole diva!

    1. I didn't mean to infer that Pink Pole Power was the one waging war. I was actually referring to some personal interactions I've had with a few people on FB. I love PPP. I just wanted to clarify. :)))

  4. Haha this is so long, that I have to publish multiple comments!

    I actually started my pole journey with Claire, in classes designed to use erotic movement as a means of healing past trauma and connecting women to themselves - of finding ownership of ones sensuality and sexuality. (Note: these classes, as taught by that instructor, no longer exist.) So, when I originally got into pole dancing, it was NOT to pole dance to be sexy or to get into any element of fitness. My friends were raving about the classes while the company was still in beta testing, for lack of a better description. Since it was a friend of a friend that was teaching, I was on the receiving end of promotional emails from our mutual friends, talking about the transformations possible, etc. My reaction? Judgement. Why would anyone want to take erotic dance/pole classes? Who does that? Etc, etc, etc. Finally, after months of thinking this way every time I got an email, I had another thought: Why am I having such an intense reaction to this idea?

    Answer: It scares me.

    Next thought: Guess I better do it, then.

    And, I did. I signed up for an intro, then signed up for the first round, then for the second round. I realized that I had such a disconnect toward sex, sexuality, sensuality, and being comfortable in my own skin, as a woman, and the only way to deal with it was to face it. It wasn't pretty. The classes combined movement - mostly floorwork, with some light pole (spins) - with life coaching, mirrorwork, reading, etc. It remains among the most challenging things I've done for myself, and among the most life-changing as well.

    Some might say that, duh, of course you got into it to pole dance...but, I really didn't. This was about 6 years ago, before pole was as well-known, so the stigma of pole=stripper was even stronger than it is today. Even I fell prey to that stigma, obviously. But, I did not get into the classes to "be" sexy - I got into them to heal a part of myself that had been lost because of my experiences. It was a very personal journey. What I discovered, beyond all of the healing and challenging emotional times, was that there was a fitness element to it. Floorwork is hard! This was before there was aerial pole, and while the spins are their own challenge, what kicked my ass was the floor.

    After my teacher stopped teaching her classes, I left the world of pole for a few years, but always thought about going back to it. In the end, a chance meeting of a pre-USPDF Champion Natasha Wang (who is a friend of a friend) got me back into it, at my current studio (on her recommendation).

    Why did I go back? I felt disconnected to my body - which I read as "not comfortable in my own skin" - and I missed the expression involved in the dance. I also wanted to get into better shape. But, again, it wasn't with the outright goal of being sexy.

    This is a roundabout way of making my point, which is this: I think that the hesitation to take ownership of the sexy aspect of pole speaks to something personal with each woman. Some women cannot own their own sexuality and sensuality, and there are many reasons why that might be the case. So, the push toward mainstreaming and knocking out the sex is perhaps a sign of where some women feel more comfortable in terms of their own journey with their sexiness. And, let's face it: I think A LOT of women are disenfranchised from their own sexuality and sensuality, which is why the non-sexy aspect is the mainstream view. On the flip side, one could make the argument that some of the women on the "sexy" side of things are pushing that element in order to try to reclaim their feelings of worth in that arena - or, also, trying to validate their need to be desired (and don't bash me for saying it - you know those girls exist, whether or not we want to admit it - and that's totally their prerogative!). It's a really muddy area all around.

  5. (comment, part 2)
    I think there is plenty of room for all aspects of pole, including the healing realm, which isn't spoken about very often. The thing that is tricky about mainstreaming the sexy is that there are such mixed messages in the world about women and sex. From puritanical Americana (Virgin/Whore complex) to the subjugation of women for profit, there's an entire mess of how sexy a woman can be/should be. For me, while I want to be able to own my sensuality and express myself, I don't feel the need to get up and prove it to anyone else (although, I can't say I felt the same when I was younger). Attached to that, I also do not want to be valued for ONLY my sex and sexual attributes. I would venture to say that the push toward mainstreaming without sex is related to that - women have been devalued over time and are often looked at and judged on the basis of their worth in the realm of sex (attractiveness included), so it stands to reason that to find mainstream empowerment in pole would require (or one would think it would require) a break from the idea that women are only valuable as sexual objects.

    I fully admit to playing the more "mainstream dance" aspects of pole to my friends and family, and therefore, playing into the game of it all. However, I will also say that many of the dancers I revere tend toward more mainstream styles most of the time - although, I love all different types of performances. I respond more to the elegance and grace of the sport because I wish to be that elegant and graceful. But, don't get me wrong - sensuality CAN be elegant and graceful. I am going to throw another thing out there, but it's just a new thought: perhaps part of the reason that the raunchier aspects of pole get less public respect is that they just don't seem as hard to do. I'm not saying they AREN'T hard - but a Russian Split seems harder than a Spider Crawl. And, yes, it's easier for most people to watch a Russian Split than to watch a full-force display of a crotch, because the latter is confronting.

    I don't usually wear shoes when I dance, because I actually feel sexier in bare feet - I feel more connected to myself, which is how I judge sexy. Putting on a show can be fun, but I don't respond to the sexiness of it the way I do when I feel an authentic expression coming from a place of ownership, knowledge and sensuality. I rarely participate in the costume themes of the week at my studio, and while I do own some costume stuff, I don't usually break it out. I own shoes, and I can dance in them, although not well enough that I feel like they are an extension of my form. For some women, they elevate their connection to the movement. For me, they get in the way. I don't think the sexiness will ever really go away from pole, but I do think it's a losing battle to demand for its inclusion in the Olympic standard/mainstream, if only because you cannot demand something from those who do not want to give it freely when you're talking about a form of expression. Which, ultimately, is what dance is: expression. Fitness comes along with that, but none of the champions get up there and JUST do fitness. They dance. It might not be erotic, but it IS a form of expression. Like it or not, these are our ambassadors for the movement, the sport, the culture, and they were chosen because of their skill, but also their ability to touch people. Sexiness will always have a home in pole, and I definitely DO NOT think there needs to be bashing of it or divisiveness because of the different preferences. We will all be stronger if we can admit to the differences and ACCEPT them. I've seen Claire dance, and she is fucking dead sexy in a way that is different from the way that I am sexy. It might challenge me on some days, just as I might challenge someone else on some days, but in the end, that's the beauty of pole: it's something for everybody (and as Lori says, Every Body), which means it can be anything you want it to be.

  6. OH, And Claire is totally spot on!!!

  7. Wow, this is shaping up to be an awesome post for us all to look back on. I have SO many thoughts, but not NEARLY as many as Danielle! I have to say, this whole thing has sparked quite a reaction from me internally. Everything Danielle said - that's been my experience. A very emotionally charged, non-dance, non-sport transformation from a very special and different kind of studio. Still, I was shocked at how strongly I wanted to participate the moment there was an invitation to do be a part of "Bring Sexy Back" week. When I first saw the poster that mentioned "elegance daily" it did feel a bit confrontational, though not angry. Just - off, like maybe a bit disapproving or something. It didn't bother me enough to enquire what it really meant. And I guess it's too bad that it didn't really foster a bigger contemplation within me (until this post and comments).

    Now that there is such a HUGE response to this movement this week, it's losing a lot of the appeal to me. I'm seeing some images that don't fit my internal recognition of sexy and it's causing me to feel odd - and I'm not quite sure how. I definitely owe it to myself to think about what the hell that is. Overall, I think this week is a huge success for bringing everyone to recognize their own feelings towards it.

  8. I'm having a hard time understanding what the debate is really about. Isn't there enough room in the pole world for any style of pole? I personally prefer the dance aspect of pole. I think it's mainly because I don't feel I have the athleticism and stamina to continually throw big tricks, and at my age, I need some downtime in between. However, some days I feel like being bare foot dancing to something lyrical, and the next I want my stilettos and lingerie. Some days I feel like rocking out or dancing to a country song. I've been able to attend a few different studios, and I think it's unfortunate that some have one style and are unwilling to veer from that. I prefer to be able to express myself in whatever way I'm feeling in that given moment. Whether we like it or not, pole is sexy. It doesn't matter if it's all fitness and sports bras, or ballet shoes, or combat boots. Someone, somewhere thinks it's sexy. Maybe it's the confidence, or the strength or heck maybe it is the stilettos, someone watching thinks it's HOT. As long as a poler feels good about what they're doing, and isn't hurting anyone else, well that's something to be proud of. Maybe our focus should more about encouraging other to try pole and bringing them into the pole world instead of tearing the one we have apart.

    1. Haha, yes Lori, it's me Jade... : )

  9. I love each and every response. Thank you to everyone for all of your stories and opinions. I want to apologize again for making it sound like I was picking on Pink Pole Power. I think I started a thought process that I didn't fully finish. And I don't want to completely out some of the people I've had negative conversations with. I do agree that pole dancing is all-encompassing. But I also still believe that there are some factions trying to break off. I get why they feel like they need to distance themselves but I also feel like they aren't being true to the sport if they try to erase some of its history.