Monday, November 11, 2013

The History of Pole Dance, Part Three

I haven't updated The History of Pole Dance in quite awhile.  It does remain my most popular post, however, with over 12,000 clicks as of the posting of this update.  In that piece, I really just re-posted stories from around the web about how different people believed modern day pole dancing came to be.  The history of pole may be related but is separate from the future of pole and the potential splitting or separation of sensual pole dance from pole fitness/sport.  

Some of those articles listed Chinese Pole, Mallakhamb and/or May Pole/fertility dances as being part of the history of modern day pole dance.  I have since seen many posts from those who dispute those claims.  I believe Claire from The Pole Story made a statement about this before, but can't find the post now. 

In part 2, I again found some pieces that were on the right track and some that were slightly off.

I also wrote a piece for, where I again listed types of pole that many feel do not belong in the history of pole dance.  

As part of my research for an upcoming article about Fawnia Dietrich, who is, in my eyes, the mother of modern pole, I found HER description of how pole dancing came to be.  It does mirror some of the other sites already quoted but I liked how it was laid out, so I wanted to post it here anyway:

"Pole dancing has been around for longer than you may think. Here is a short history on how pole dancing has evolved. Pole dancing originated in the 1920's at height of the American depression. Traveling fairs would go from town to town entertaining the crowds. As part of the fair there would many different types of sides shows in small tents surrounding the main tent. One particular tent housed the erotic Hoochi Coochi dancers. The word Hoochi Coochi originates from the hip movement performed by the Hochi Coochi dancers, the equivalent of the bump and grind today day. The girls would dance suggestively on a small stage in front of crowds of cheering. Due to size of the tent, the tent pole would be situated at the very edge of the stage. The dancer would approach the tent pole and begin to dance with it. The tent pole became known, as the dance pole, which still exists today, be it in a more technically advanced and socially acceptable form. Pole dancing gradually began evolving from tents to bars as burlesque became more acceptable in 1950's, nothing much was heard until the 1980's when pole dancing and striptease became popular in Canada and then the USA. 1990's saw Miss Fawnia Dietrich (Canadian, formally Fawnia Mondey) take the art of pole dancing and begin teaching this to the every day woman. She produced the first instructional pole fitness and dance DVD. 2000 - current have been the most promising years. Pole dancing has evolved into different genres, exotic, empowering and pole fitness. There is a great deal of difference between them and as the student you should try them all. The UK POLE FEDERATION formed in 2005 celebrates all of these, as does the Pole Fitness Association, formed in 2009. Pole dancers across the world hope that 2010 - 2020 will see pole dancing accepted as a reputable form of dance, fitness and exercise and without a doubt in the Olympic Games. Vertical Dance – Pole Fitness Studio."

KT Coates, another pioneer of pole, also recently posted on her Facebook page:

"I have just been asked where I thought the pole we do today came from. It was suggested that its came from Chinese pole and the makalamb (or however you spell it). I don't know who said it was the latter but its not true. While the pole we know and love today has influences of circus, gymnastics, street, ballet it came from the strip clubs! I am sure people will find it ironic that I think that but its true. If pole originated from them then it would be predominately a male activity and be far more acceptable, but its not. However the future of pole will be so different and it will always be when you have so many different influences it can not help but take on a different dimension."

The future of pole includes plus-sized polers
So perhaps modern pole dance didn't COME FROM Chinese Pole or Mallakhamb (I know I can't spell that damn word either), but arguments could certainly be made to say that, with the direction in which competitions are going lately, Chinese pole especially is definitely influencing competitors today.  

Soon, I am going to have a reactionary post to the recent California Pole Dance Championships and will discuss where I think pole is headed in the future.  I would love, in the meantime, to get your reaction to this post.  How do you feel about both the history and the future of modern day pole dance? 

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