Monday, February 11, 2013

How much does it cost to put on a pole show?

...or competition or showcase...

I want to start this post by saying, not much unlike my post about running a pole studio, I don't have the answer.  I just want to start the discussion... 

I recently saw Aerial Amy post on Facebook about her Flight Club showcase.  It sounds like perhaps people are giving her a hard time for potentially profiting from the shows (although it sounds like she has not turned a profit).  First off, there is nothing wrong with making a profit off the shows, considering the amount of hard work that goes into putting one on.  However, just having been on the outskirts of some shows and competitions, I imagine that what most of the people putting on these shows are getting is the satisfaction of knowing they put on an excellent show.  If someone is putting their blood, sweat and tears into putting on an entertainment show, why should they feel bad if they are making a profit?  And how terrible should the haters feel to find out they are usually doing it for the love of their art.

I certainly have grumbled at $100+ tickets to see a pole show (I'm not going to stand the whole show -- sorry).  I try to remember how much work goes into a show.  I saw a lot of the stuff that went down behind the scenes at Pole Show LA in 2012 (which was moved into a different venue for 2013).  I really got an inside look at the end-preparations of the showcase at Pole Expo in Vegas last September.  It was eye-opening.  Money aside, the amount of time and effort was so impressive.  How much do you think it costs to put on a pole show?

First you need a venue.  Even if you think you're going to have a sell-out crowd, someone needs to front a deposit.  And each venue will have different requirements, but all will require some kind of liability insurance.  Some may even require you to hire security (or pay extra for theirs).  Does the vendor offer ticketing options or do you need to set up with a company like Brown Paper Tickets, which will add fees to your ticket prices (although a much lower fee than places like Ticketmaster)?

Then what?  Is this a competition (in which you may have charged your competitors a fee already)?  A show (where you may be paying some of your performers)?  A showcase (where many of your performers may be dancing for free)?  I don't have a lot of experience with this, but I do remember a world famous pole dancer coming to Twirly Girls for workshops.  She charged $250 to do a one-song performance and meet and greet.  I imagine if you are able to schedule some workshops, some of the more famous pole dancers may do your show for free, but paying your more famous dancers may be a cost to consider. 

I imagine the next biggest expense is rigging and poles.  If you aren't being sponsored by a big pole company, you may have to front that cost yourself.  And if you don't want to put your performers on stage poles, you are looking at professional rigging.  Again, I have never had to purchase it myself, but I understand a weekend of rigging can cost $6,000, or more. 

If you are offering more of a convention or event with vendors, perhaps the fees from vendors will off-set some of your costs, but you need to make sure you have a good retail set-up.  Otherwise, it will not encourage them to return the next year.  Putting them in a dark, back corner and not letting your patrons know there is a room for shopping will hurt you and your vendors. 

Advertising and marketing are next.  Sure, Facebook is great, but you have to decide if you want to spend the time and money on paid ads.  Participants should invite friends but I think many feel that the promoter is in charge of filling the seats. 

How about music licensing?  Any public performance of popular music will require a music license. 

Also, if you are going to live-stream the event, who do you use and do you have ANY idea the amount of work that goes into setting up live-stream cameras?  I helped with the set up and tear down at Pole Expo and, holy $hit!  They laid miles of cable for multiple cameras.  It was quite a job. 

Sure, vendors and sponsors may off-set some costs, but I don't know that we are at a point where most of these events are making anyone rich.  Did I miss any obvious costs?  I would really, really love to hear from some people who have put an event on.  You can post anonymously if you'd like.  What advice do you have for those who want to put on a pole show?!


  1. I know at some venues you or the people coming to see the show have to pay for parking. So make sure that you agree with the venue on which one it will be. Having to charge people another fee might be off setting, but can you afford the other fee too?

    1. Great point and I didn't think about how, even if you do it at your own studio, you may be paying for chairs and lighting, etc. So much to think about!!!!