After years of being dismissed as “bedroom gymnasts”, a group of women dancers is promoting what many consider a seedy entertainment as a potential Olympic discipline.
“We work just as hard as any other athlete, if not harder,” said Australian Felix Cane, one of a new breed of professional competitors in what they insist is a valid sport.
Britain, China, Russia and Brazil are among at least 25 countries with federations affiliated to World Pole Dance, which organises the official world championships. It describes the annual event as a showcase of “sheer physical strength with mesmerising skill and stamina”. Moves include an “outside leg hang”, “pencil pose” and “inner thigh hold”.
Some competitors admitted they were reluctant to reveal their pole passions. Natasha Wang, the US Pole Dance Federation’s 2011 champion, said she hid her activities from colleagues until she started winning contests.
The idea that pole dancing should be an Olympic sport has drawn hoots of derision online. “Why not include lap-dancing?” sniffed one critic.
The sport’s promoters say such attacks merely denigrate women who are flocking to a challenging, athletic pastime.
“Men should take pole-dancing classes,” Cane said. “Then they can see just how hard it is to achieve some of the simplest-looking moves.”
by Buford Balony