Pole dancing is a form of dancing/gymnastics that takes muscular endurance and coordination as well as sensuality. It involves dancing sensually with a vertical pole and is often used in strip clubs and gentlemen's clubs, although more recently artistic pole dancing [Chinese poles) is used in cabaret/circus and stage performance in a non-erotic environment. In a strip club setting, pole dancing is often performed less gymnastically and combined with striptease, and/or lap dancing between performers. The dancer(s) may simply hold the pole, or use it to perform more athletic moves such as climbs, spins, and body inversions. Upper body and core strength are important to proficiency, which takes time to develop.
Pole dancing is now regarded as a recognised form of exercise and can be used as both an aerobic and anaerobic workout. Recognised schools and qualifications are being developed as pole dancing increases in popularity. Pole dancing is also regarded by many as a performing art.
The standard dance pole typically consists of a hollow steel or brass pole with circular cross section, running from floor to ceiling. A fixing at the ceiling gives more stability, but is not always realized, especially at night clubs with higher ceilings or at transportable devices. In the United States, the diameter is usually around 2 inches, allowing it to be gripped comfortably with one hand. In Asia, the diameter is usually slightly smaller at 45 mm or less.
Home versions are available which may be used for practice or aerobic exercise. Materials include polished stainless steel, chromed steel, powder coating, acrylic "glow poles" with LED lighting effects, Titanium coated and brass. Each material allows for different gripping ability. Polished steel is one of the slickest materials, which provides for a faster, more fluid dance; brass poles provide more friction, allowing for an easier hold with hands or thighs and creating a slow, sensual dance style.
Poles can be held in place by using threading to brace them against a ceiling joist. There are also poles that do not require construction and can be set up using tension. Stationary, rotating, and switchable versions are available.
There are now poles available for use in clubs that provide visual effects. These poles are made with clear plastics and contain water, glitter, and special reflective materials which stand out when used in conjunction with strobe lighting, as well as lighting hidden in their base joists.
Pole dance as exercise
Recently, pole dancing has caught on as a new and increasingly popular form of exercise, in which women (and sometimes men) use the pole as a workout prop. This form of exercise increases upper body strength (by using the body itself as resistance) while toning the body as a whole.
Pole dance competitions
Although the most common pole dance competitions are still amateur nights at strip clubs, there is a growing community who are trying to get pole dancing taken seriously as a sport and art form. Participants come from local pageants held in venues such as Australia, France, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. More recently, amateur pole dance competitions have been held. As with Miss Pole Dance World, these are strictly non-nude and non-stripping, and focus on pole dance as an athletic and artistic form of dance and exercise. The first "Miss Pole Dance World" competition was held in November 2005, and Reiko Suemune from Japan won the 2005/2006 title.