A Brief History of Pole Dancing

The art of dancing on/around a pole dates back hundreds of years when multiple different kinds of pole dancing were formed throughout China and India.

Image of Chinese Pole Dancers

Chinese pole dancing

The Chinese introduced the original form of pole dancing in the 12th century. This type of pole dancing you would see in a circus act, in which the performers would climb the pole and hold various positions. A popular trick in Chinese pole is the “flag”, when a performer holds their body out parallel to the floor, using only their arms.

Chinese pole dancing was invented as a form of entertainment for a wide audience and is still seen today in shows, such as the Cirque Du Soleil.

India introduced a form of pole for the purpose of training and strength for wrestlers. They called this “Mallakhamb”, ‘malla’ meaning ‘wrestler’ and ‘khamb’ meaning ‘of pole’. They trained this way to develop “speed, reflexes, concentration, and coordination…and endurance” (IPDFA). Males mainly dominated this type of sport.

Entering the Modern Era

A more modern interpretation of pole dancing, as we know it now, began in the 1920s, during the Great Depression. The “flapper” persona was a very popular one that many women took on during this time.

They showed more skin, dressed more provocatively, drank alcohol, listened to music, and danced when they were not supposed to. Sounds like fun 🙂

Women, who came to be known as “Hoochi Coochis” would dance in tents for an audience. They would use “a lot of hip movement and suggestive dancing…and would dance with the pole holding the tent in place” (IPDFA).

From the 1920s to the 1970s, pole became more widespread and started to take off in Canada in the 1980s as a form of erotic, sexual dancing in front of an audience as a means to arouse.

Becoming a Recreational Sport

Pole dancing has remained a form of sexual dancing until very recently, when instructors have started teaching it to non-performers as a recreational sport and workout.

This more mainstream type of pole dancing has now gone global. There are now international competitions, in which performers pole dance as an art form, a skill, and an athletic ability, rather than an erotic performance. Check out this performance from the 2016 Pole Dance Championship. It’s amazing!

The International Pole Dancing Fitness Association is attempting to include pole dancing as a sport in the Olympics! Ania Przeplasko, the founder of IPDFA, says:

“The Olympic community needs to acknowledge the number of people doing pole fitness now.”

However, it does take quite a long time for a sport to be recognized through the International Olympics Committee.

Pole Dancing Today

In 2017, pole dancing is becoming a mainstream health and fitness workout – and a damn good one!

Pole is for the everyday woman who wants to get fit and have fun doing it. Tired of the treadmills? Join the rest of us. Pole classes are inclusive, high energy, fitness focused, challenging, and most importantly, fun!

Pole isn’t just for stripping anymore. The pole fitness community is an amazing place… incredibly supportive, encouraging, and confidence-building.

When you learn how to pole dance, flip yourself upside down, and build that kind of strength, not only do you look good, you feel amazing!

Pole dancing has come a long way since its start and we love where it’s headed!

Keep an eye out for our next article on the new workout craze and why women all over the world are trying pole!
For more details on the history of pole dancing, check out this excellent article on the IPDFA site.

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About Us

Josephine & Natalia started Pole Body Fusion to spread their love of pole with the world. After falling in love with pole, and seeing the amazing benefits of pole fitness, they wanted to share that with as many people as they could. We stand for health, fitness, fun, and community and are here to build the best online pole community in the world. Spread your love of pole with the world!

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