For The Love Of Pole

For The Love Of Pole

I have been pole dancing for over four years, and like many of the dancers you will read below, it changed my life. I don’t know why pole is such a magical entity, but I have never found another dance form/community/workout/sport/whatever like it. Pole attracts all walks of life, women, men, all different races, LGBTQ+, backgrounds, styles, and all shapes and sizes, but there is one thing they all have in common — they are strong, fearless, and fighters. For example, I have met dancers who have left their friends and families in far off countries just to train at the New York City studio I go to, Body&Pole. That is dedication.

The community is like none other. If you ever go to a pole event, you will quickly know who the other pole dancers are. They are the ones screaming the loudest! Pole dancing has also become a very popular competitive sport over the years, but despite this, pole dancers continue to be supportive of their competition.

One of my favorite experiences in the pole world was when I was competing at Arnold’s Sport Festival, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fitness competition (yes, they do pole there too). I had looked up my competition before going there, and was totally blown away by one of the dancers. She did all the tricks I do, except better, more of them, and for longer. I was terrified and obsessed. On the day of the competition, I couldn’t contain myself. I had to tell her how awesome she was! She was very humble and kind about my fan girling. To think, I was competing against such a bad ass! So, I did my piece, which I screwed up the ending on, I was an emotional wreak coming off the stage. But who comes running back stage and throws her arms around me?? That dancer! She just had to tell me how much she loved my piece. This is a woman I knew for five minutes, who I was competing against! And she was exactly what I needed at that moment.

This is the pole community I know, the same community that goes to the ends of the Earth if they feel one of their own needs help. These are the friends who will come to my training sessions to help give me direction, or just to clean the poles for me so I can save my energy. I feel this amazing compassion is rooted in the fact that pole dancers have received a lot of judgement over the years. While pole dancing can be a powerful sport or an emotive art, a lot of people only see it as a thing strippers do. To be fair, strippers can be all three of those things in one person, but the lay population often does not appreciate that. Being a pole dancer becomes another thing we (I) have to explain, like being LGBTQ+, pagan, owning a ferret, or other unconventional things about you that your family doesn’t understand. These are the types of people you often see in the pole community, people who have been fighting their whole life to celebrate themselves.

This is why it is confusing when I hear that strippers are sometimes shamed in the pole community. If a stripper dances on a pole, then she/he is a pole dancer, and they are probably pretty bad ass. I mean, I can’t even walk in heels let alone want to invert in them! They are like 5lbs each! Most pole dancers 15 years ago were strippers, and making more money off of it than most pole dancers nowadays do. I personally don’t care why a person is pole dancing or which style they are embracing. I love that there is so much variety. I can go to a show and see a modern dancer smoothly sail through the air, a trickster do some crazy acrobatics, dancers contort their bodies in ways I can’t even imagine, or some sexy beast just come out and slay. That is what keeps pole fresh. We have our central post, a pole, but from there, the possibilities are endless!

Pole is an amazing thingamajig, I have gotten stronger, more fearless, maybe more crazy, and a lot more comfortable in my body. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day I have had — pole dancing will make it all melt away. But the most amazing part of pole dancing is the people. They are so full of passion and are all incredible unicorns in their own right. Please read further to learn about some mind blowing people who I am lucky enough to share a community with below, and just try not to fall in love with pole dancing and the individuals in it. It is impossible.

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Foreword by Kira Bucca, Editor in Chief of Jejune Magazine.


Photographer: Scott Kaplan

Name: Dey Phoenix

Years Pole Dancing: Two years, August 5th
Signature Move: Jade Split


How did you get into pole dancing? 
In all transparency, I’ve always been intrigued by strippers, and made jokes that if I couldn’t secure a 9-5, I’d become one. Fast forwarding to the end of 2017, I came across an open pole night called Pole Play Wednesday (now Pole Play NYC) produced by Aerial EDGJ. Not knowing anything about pole, I gave it a shot, which prompted me to buy a pole for my home to practice, and the rest is history :) 

If anyone’s wondering, I did work a strip club once after I started pole, so that got checked off my bucket list (I’d do it again, too). 

How has pole dancing empowered you? 
Pole has been nothing BUT empowering for me! I’m still relatively shy, but overall, pole has brought me much more confidence in myself generally as a person, as a dancer, and as an overall creative being. It’s opened my mind up to so much more about sexuality, and has surely humanized all of those who wish to bare their skin. I can securely say I don’t think I see myself stopping Pole based on how much it’s shaped and changed me over the years. With all the love and support I’ve received, I plan to spread that same empowerment!! 



What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My style is what I’d like to call, “SophistiRatchet.” I say this because although I’ve gotten great at technique, and can do what’s learned in the studio, I’ll forever love the rawness of how strippers dance, and mostly love to dance in that kind of “hood exotic” style. I also correlate that with my book and street smarts. I have a Bachelors degree in Public Relations/Black Studies, but I also twerk on the regular in a thong, and that’s ok! 

My style is important to me because I never want to lose sight of what really brought me to pole; the powerful aura that strippers emanate, and the respect for the hustle, is what I celebrate when I dance. Growing up in the hood for the majority of my life, my style additionally celebrates the hood culture/stripper culture that’s been taboo for so long. I may not have run the streets, or anything in that sense, but my exposure to some elements of the hood are surely a part of my experience, which translates into my movement. It’s the main reason why I’m also so public with my pole dancing; to be one part of ending the stigma surrounding pole, whether it’s in a studio setting or a strip club. 

In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?  
In my own opinion, there’s definitely parallels between mainstream pole and strip club culture, and there are surely ways in which the worlds both coexist. You do have those within the mainstream pole community who make sure the strippers are celebrated and acknowledged, I will say, and it’s seen within the more exotic styles of mainstream pole, or even outside of the studio setting, in the form of activism and advocacy. I’ve also noticed a HUGE uptick of pole dancing being seen in music videos, even more so than back in the days, regardless of the music genre. 

However, there’s very few instances where I’ve low key seen a certain sense of entitlement some “pole dancers” have in reference to perhaps trying to separate themselves from strippers (at least via social media). To me, that’s similar to gentrification in the sense that there’s almost a feeling of erasure from the source by trying to make pole fitness appear more “appealing” to the masses, compared to stripping at a club. It would be hurtful to ignore that this happens, but also it’s not something that isn’t spoken upon and pointed out from others in the community when it does happen. I personally think it’s important to address as there’s strippers who are also instructors, and if they’re willing to make their worlds intersectional, then so can others. I will end in saying I do love that there are checks and balances in terms of strippers speaking out and standing up for themselves, and the mainstream pole community doing their best to stand behind them; those moments are where you really see the coexistence and unity that I love about the community at large.


What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
My most favorite part of pole dancing—despite my previous observation—is how INCLUSIVE the community is overall! Regardless of body shape, sexual orientation/identity, strength/lack there of, etc., there’s a place for everyone within the pole community. As most can imagine, being a guy who dances in 8” heels and thongs isn’t a “norm,” but it’s well celebrated in the pole community, and has contributed to me being my complete self. What I also love are the diverse styles of pole. You can be sexy, comedic, theatrical, athletic; the possibilities are endless!

Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
I just want to give the HUGEST shout out to IncrediPole, who has become my home studio since I’ve started to train; Aerial EDGJ for their platform and their amazing contribution to the NYC Pole scene; Carmine Black [Editors note: See her interview below!] who has been the best exotic guru, mentor, and friend through this journey; Bentley Rebel who was the first Black male pole dancer I’d ever seen which gave me even more inspiration; and all of my pole peeps, followers, and supporters (too many to name, but they know exactly who they are)!

Photo by: Brett Stanley, Cover photo is of Deb, by Don Curry.

Stage Name: Deb Roach, also Debzillah

Studio: @worldofpole
Years Pole Dancing: Since late 2007
Signature Move: Elbow shoulder mount into trapped split, also suicide Spin.

How did you lose your arm, and how does it affect your pole dancing?
I was born without my arm, as a complete surprise to everyone. It impacted my development in a number of ways. As no one knew I was going to be born with limb deficiency, and because I was born in a small, private hospital, I wasn't in the system. I never had an OT or any of the services other that physically handicapped children have access to, which assist them to adapt to the world around them. I struggled to imitate movement patterns, to overcome my physical limitations, but I found I really enjoyed figure skating when I was 11. Here's the fun fact though: I loved it because I sucked.

I fell repeatedly. I couldn't get away from the wall. I didn't get it - and so I had to. I started lessons immediately and then hired a private coach. I trained three mornings a week before school - 4:30am starts - and two evenings a week - 9pm finishes. I did this until I finally won a trophy in competition at age 14. I did this while maintaining an A grade average and I did this until I went to France on a scholarship. This tells you volumes about who I am.

About my practice as a dancer? I loved dance. Since before I could walk. It was frustrating to be incapable of identical movement and needing to adapt choreography constantly. I finally made it to dance camp when I was 13 and, upon return, another student told me I shouldn't bother. That I was a broken line, aesthetically displeasing and that I'd never amount to anything anyway (she said "no offence" afterwards). I think I rank that as one of the most damaging things anyone ever said to me. It cut me to the core.

At 24, I returned to adult dance classes at The Sydney Dance Company with Jason Liu Brennan. He'd give the same talk at the start of every lesson about how anyone could dance. It was exactly what I needed to hear. These 90 minute classes not only made me a better dancer, but I made amazing friends and started to heal. I hated the last 30 minutes, devoted to learning choreography, and I'd often leave in tears, but I always went back. I miss these classes so much!

In the UK, between 2013 and 2016, I trained with Candoco and Stopgap and explored the world of integrated and inclusive dance. Here I found a sense of belonging that changed me forever. 
So when I started pole in 2007, I already loved dancing. Now I enjoyed exploring my sensuality - body rolls are my favourite. It took me ages to climb. I jumped into inverts for the longest time. I couldn't Jamilla for 9 years! I'm someone who will grit their teeth and keep showing up until something happens. This was my pole journey. Arduous. Full of frustration and SO MANY INJURIES. My attitude went through all sorts of highs and lows. Bendy Kate coached me for much of 2014 and it took a stern talking to from her to really sort me out. To do it for love, and to show up positive. It took so much practice, but here I am.

Today, I get to live and breathe dance by my rules - or, rather, a deep affection for breaking them. I instruct choreography classes every Wednesday night and I'm so proud that I'm part of growing a group of highly skilled dancers who are also amazing human beings.

How did you get into pole dancing?
I saw Suzie Q and Missy perform a doubles routine in a night club I was DJing at. I told them backstage I admired their skill and they encouraged me to come to the studio and try it. So I did!

How has pole dancing empowered you?
Hugely! I stopped chasing size 0 and running risk assessments around my limitations. I started appreciating what my body could do and exploring my possibilities. This attitude spread to every aspect of my life.

I got an Exceptional Talent Visa and moved to London. I joined the UK’s first inclusive/integrated circus company Extraordinary Bodies and toured the show, weighting for two years, bringing pole into family picnics and the outdoors in a theatrical display. Pole has given me incredible opportunities. And I learned from pole what it took to seize them.

Every single day I live my passion. I get to nerd out about human movement and biomechanics, which I absolutely love. I get to teach my vision-impaired friends how to pole dance! I get to perform exotic choreography in a troupe with my students on incredible stages surrounded by phenomenal women.

I wouldn’t give this up for anyone, or anything.


What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My style? I'm a chameleon! I need to do lots of different types of Pole. I love exotic and show girl choreography. I love lyrical, too. Sometimes I like to train in heels and sometimes barefoot. In Winter, I love pole skating in my socks. Strength moves, flexy tricks, I love both. It's important to me to have a balanced, well-rounded Pole practice. I'm neither trickster nor dancer, though I have oscillated between the two to get where I am. I'm a pole artist and a pole athlete.


In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
I’ve been in the pole community so long I watched all of the blow ups and bust ups and the make ups and shake ups. Can’t we now just be stand ups? By that, I mean people who help each other be better, rather than people who need to be right, or for someone else to be wrong. That is so, so, tiresome. I'm actually really bored of this type of conversation.

Pole started in strip clubs, and if you shame strippers, or look down at their profession, then you need to look at your own insecurities and why you feel threatened. If you're going to choose small mindedness and closed mindedness over curiosity and inquiry, then we're not going to get along. I've been a stripper! I loved it. I certainly see a lot more people acknowledging the roots of pole, less fear of judgement, and generally we're progressing in a positive direction. Pole dance culture and strip culture are separate, and polers need to tread carefully around cultural appropriation in this regard.

I am 100% behind a woman’s right to express her sexuality and sensuality when and how she chooses. (Side note: I do have some objections about it gratifying the male objectionist gaze, though this is another can of worms entirely.

I am also 100% behind supporting women to explore their strength and build their confidence in a pole fitness context, wearing gym shorts and sneakers. The two do NOT have to be mutually exclusive.


What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
STRONG WOMEN. If you’re into pole, you probably like a challenge, you’re probably on the brave and adventurous side, and I probably think that’s pretty awesome! So many pole dancers are incredibly supportive, wonderful and creative human beings — more so than in any other environment I’ve ever experienced. It makes my heart sing!

Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
I’m off to Budapest next week to teach pole camp there for the third year running. I’m back in July. In August, I’m MCing the Miss Pole Dance Australia Queensland heats at The Princess Theatre in Brisbane.

Stage Name: Nita B

Years Pole Dancing: Since Spring of 2011
Signature Move: Cup-grip Ayesha/Handspring.


Photo by: @sinematic.nyc

How did you get into pole dancing?
I was actually very interested in pole dancing for almost a year before starting, but my friends would constantly back out of our plans to take a group class together. Finally, I walked in to a pole studio alone and inquired about classes just as an intro class was about to begin. I decided to join that class and met a sweet group of ladies with the same story -- their friends cancelled on them too, haha! But here we all were, having tons of fun and meeting new people.


How has pole dancing empowered you?

Pole dancing has made me much more outgoing and comfortable with my sexuality. I’ve always been comfortable with my body, but was shamed for always dressing “sexy”; pole dancing has given me more pride in celebration of my sexuality.

What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My style is Stripper Style/Pole fit. Both styles are important because I love my strength and there’s nothing like body rolls, heel clacks, and twerk sessions.

In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
I most definitely agree that sexual dancing and strippers carved the path, and I most definitely celebrate it. If it wasn’t for strip culture, I wouldn’t have become so obsessed with pole dancing classes in the first place. I do, however, feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs, mainly because, unfortunately, the whole “stripper vs. pole dancer” debate is a major topic in the pole community. Why? I don’t know. I wish everyone would accept that stripping is the origin of much of pole dance culture and celebrate sex workers.

I know I love the strippers!


What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
I love that it’s so big and small at the same time! It’s like a no-so-secret society that allows everyone to show off their own style and be themselves! Last year, I performed at the International Pole Convention, and I met and networked with amazing people from all over. There was so much love and empowerment. I’m going again this year and performing in the Queer Pole showcase.


Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
I encourage anyone who wants to try something new, or even a cool way to stay fit , to give pole dancing a try. It’s amazing, and I don’t know a single person who didn’t enjoy themselves during a class. I also encourage any NY/NJ folks to give an intro class a try at Body Soul & Pole or Alter Ego Pole Fitness!

Stage Name: Zixy Z

Years Pole Dancing: 6 or 7 years.
Signature Move: I love needles, both upside down and downside up. It is a classic move that showcases intense flexibility and strength, completely in the air, and looks like a bird!



How did you get into pole dancing?
I was a contracted commercial dancer during high school. A friend who’s also a commercial dancer, teaches pole on the side, so sometimes I would wait for his class to end to hangout together, and never thought about trying, because I thought pole dancing would be easy. This is until one day when I tried a class and was not able to master a single trick! Therefore, I went back the next day, and the day after, and then I found myself deep in the rabbit hole of Aerial arts. 

How has pole dancing empowered you?
Pole dancing is a mean of art making to me. It empowers my creativity more than anything else. The gymnastic aspect of it is addicting because it’s about pushing your maximums. The art history of pole is originated from expression of feminity. It is a dance originated from entertainment and acrobatics, instead of from another kind of dance. Everything is new and thriving. The newness gives us space to explore and define our own terms and aesthetics.



What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My dance journey was rooted in Chinese classical dance, so my aesthetic and figurative thinking in choreography often spring from Chinese dance and paintings. I like doing sensual flows, incorporating Modern and Hiphop techniques with 8 or 9 inch Pleasers Shoes, and often play with props like daily objects and chairs. Visually, my style is constantly evolving, but under the intention to explore the expression of femininity of my own identity as an asian body in a global context.



In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
The strip club ancestry of exotic/sexy pole is not celebrated by everyone, and often criticized. Pole culture is coexisting with strip clubs now, because the dance has been taken out of the context of nightlife and has been taught and learned worldwide, not only by entertainers, but also regular people of different genders. Pole has been approached more and more for its acrobatic and fitness aspects. Personally, I am proud of the background of pole dancing, and I’m happy to see dancers drilling the traditional expression of sexiness through pole. Lots of the queer culture and representation of women is vivid in night clubs, happens in clubs, and is reflected through our movement. To dance and to develop is to document.

What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
The pole dancing community is home to me. My  journey took me to different cities to live and visit. Wherever I go, I would check out the local pole studio, and find myself a crowd of people of my own kind. When I moved to Chicago from China at the age of 18, without knowing anybody in the USA, my home studio Brass Ring, in Chicago, was the home for me abroad. Through pole dancing, I was able to meet wonderful women and men with diverse background and avant-garde awareness on gender and art, and evolve from a teen to adult in a society that constantly challenges the boundaries of both the body and the mind.

Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
Many years ago, I was working as a volunteering pole cleaner at a local live band pole show in Chicago. The transitions between acts were very long and often require rearranging the whole stage. The host was a genius with comedian talent, and was throwing jokes to fill up the set up. I started interacting with her on stage during my pole clean and started to throw pole tricks during the transition. Our stage transition/pole cleaning time gradually became tiny little two minutes acts, which really engaged and excited the audience. Lots of audience responded that they enjoyed the pole clean as much as watching the acts.

­Stage Name: ArGon

­Years Pole Dancing: 6 years, on and off
Signature Move: Handsprings and low flows.

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How did you get into pole dancing?
I was a performer, choreographer and aerialist in a show six years ago. During our one month recess, my boss asked me to put a pole number together for the next season. Even though I was hesitant about trying pole, I did, and fell in love right away.


How has pole dancing empowered you?

I always dreamed about being an acrobat/gymnast when I was a kid, but it never happened. Pole was my way to make that dream come true and take my dancing to the next level. Pole also made me a better dancer, since it gave me a lot more body awareness that I did not have before. ­

What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My style is a fusion of styles. Technique, commercial, latin, power, sexy.

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In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
Yes, it is celebrated and should be celebrated. If it is separated or coexisting is more of a personal choice. My personal choice is to coexist.

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What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
The reason for me to leave everything behind and dive completely into the pole world was how welcoming and accepting the community was. It is like our own world. Even though it is not always like that, and some people try to diminish different styles, that was my case, and I would like it to continue that way.

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Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
There is a lot of misconceptions about pole dancing. I’m super glad to help people transform their own lives and change perspectives. Pole dancing helped me fulfill all my artistry.

Stage Name: Carmine Black

Years Pole Dancing: 6 years
Signature Move: I don't have a signature trick, so much as a signature style. My focus is dancing.



Photo by: Shane Karns

How did you get into pole dancing?
A coworker was insistent on me trying it. I was hooked by my first class.


How has pole dancing empowered you?
Pole has taught me strength in ways that are deeper than just physical. It has allowed me to truly connect to my body (and sensuality), from a place of compassion. It has allowed me to shed years of internalized misogyny, and shame that I learned throughout my life. Pole has taught me how to support and accept others fully.


What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My style is a blend of my previous experience in dance, with years of individual exploration. It mostly focuses on intention, utilization of the pelvis/hips, articulation, breath, and dynamic progressions. When I perform, my style has a tendency to be intentional and provocative. I think it’s important to me because connection (within myself/how I explore that with others), as well as intention, create meaning for me. I find fulfillment in having a purpose, and sharing it with others.



In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
This is a controversial question. To be honest, I don’t fully know how to answer that. I feel like in many ways it's more accepted than before. Nevertheless, I wonder if the support comes from a place of genuine intention, and not so much as a way to capitalize on a trend.

I think there are those who support, as well as encourage certain expressions of sexy; but there are also those who are just as quick to shame sex workers, or those who are perceived as overtly sexual.

Throughout my pole journey, I have been made to feel like the way I express myself isn’t artistic or valid because I express myself in ways that aren’t viewed as appropriate (by others in the community).

I feel like many individuals, especially sex workers (/strippers) have been made to feel ostracized by the very community that claims to support them. Sexy in our community (on many occasions) only seems to be acceptable when it is packaged as presentational. There are also those in the community who feel like because heel work is a current trend, that pole dancers appropriate the benefits of sensual movement without fully respecting the experience of those who deal with the consequences of working as a dancer or sex worker.

I hope that the community can actively support everyone, regardless of vocation or expression; but I think we are a long way from that.



What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
I love when the community comes together and supports each other. I love going to events or shows, and seeing how much love the community gives each other. I would love to see more of that.



Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
Nope, but thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my story.

Photo by: Yuva Chang

Stage Name: Ann

Years Pole Dancing: Almost three years.
Signature Move: Pole assisted shoulder stand. It’s a trick where you stand on the front of one of your shoulders in a floor inverted position, and the free arm pushes on the pole to balance.

How did you get into pole dancing?
After graduation, I took the first illegal 60 gbp I earned and walked into a pole studio.


How has pole dancing empowered you?
I’ve tried to dance on many occasions at different times in life, but I was never good enough to express myself like I wished to. It made me very sad, and at one point I stopped listening to any kind of music so that I wouldn’t want to dance (I know it’s silly, but it worked for years). Not long after I started pole, I met Jeni, the founder of Liquid Motion, and she was the key that led me from knowing how to do a few tricks on the pole to understanding how to dance around it. Now I dance everyday! :)



What is your style, and why is it important to you?
I was gonna say Low Flow, but I recently started to take the flow higher up on the pole. The dancing part in pole dancing is the most important to me. Dance is a first hand expression to music (also why I love watching dance battles rather than staged dance pieces), and the music is continuous; there’s no ready, set and go in music. So I spent most of my time practicing smooth transitions between moves and detailing, angling.


In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
I think it’s funny that the two have to be either coexisting or separate, I find it funny to have to be ‘two’. If we express pole dance as a set, stripper, fitness, contemporary, exotic, acrobatic ... are all just subsets of it? It is a bit silly for a subset to try to claim the whole set. So I guess my answer is neither.

And if I can add more, pole dance is a stripper’s job, not their hobby. And I think strippers are probably the only group of people in pole dance that can survive only by pole dancing (besides a few world-known pole instructors (shout out to
Sam Star and the pole acrobats I saw at Cirque du Soleil). We wouldn’t just go out and claim ourselves as musicians or writers because we know how to play a few songs or write a diary, so why is pole dance different?


What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
I enjoy the friends I met along my pole journey. They are the most supportive, and they care about me just as much as I care about them.

Stage Name: Andrew Gregory

Years Pole Dancing: About 3 years. 
Signature Move: Drop from straight edge to shoulder mount.


How did you get into pole dancing?
I first started when I went to a studio that offered anti gravity yoga classes. They also, as it turned out, did pole. 

I had a lot of problems with my leg after a motorcycle accident and thought I wouldn’t be able to pole, but one of the teachers (
Deb Roach [Editor’s note: see her interview above!]) had one arm, so I thought I could probably do it too. I had two legs when I started pole, the amputation was just a year ago. 


How has pole dancing empowered you?

Pole has definitely made me more confident in my physical appearance, it’s great exercise and makes you strong. You spend a lot of time around people with not much clothing. We all come in many shapes and sizes, and seeing all types of bodies look amazing, definitely makes you feel good about yourself!!

Even now, as an amputee, I am welcomed and supported in many ways. I don’t feel conscious at all of my body or residual limb. 



What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My style of pole is definitely trick heavy. I’m not so good on the floor, so I tend to do long sequences up the pole. 


In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
Pole came out of the strip clubs, but now has many different faces. I love watching exotic pole, especially guys in super high heals, and it’s great that you can choose the style that suits you best. I think all polers appreciate every style out there. We realize the amount of work that goes into any routine, and the dedication involved!!!



What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
The pole community is great to be a part of. It’s welcoming and supportive of its own, no matter your appearance, nationality, ability, and/or disability. 



Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
I’m not sure I would have dealt with the loss of my leg if it weren’t for pole. It’s a place I can be myself and not be judged. The acceptance is incredible. 

I’m also lucky enough to have amazing teachers and the support of the studio staff, which as an amputee I sometimes need a lot of!!!

Photo by: Studio VMP

Stage Name: Purple

Years Pole Dancing: Self taught pole dancer for almost 10 years. 
Signature Move: Face drop and shoulder mount with all its variations.

How did you get into pole dancing?
I got into pole dancing after trying it out in a nightclub around the age 21. At first, I had no idea that it would ever interest me so much, because just dancing around the pole seemed intimidating enough. Besides, I didn’t like the negative stigma attached to it at that time. I am grateful that pole dancing has recently become more accepted in society. However, luckily, I now am no longer concerned about any negative judgments placed on it anyway. This realization happened through the confidence and empowerment that pole dancing has given me. I wasn’t used to incorporating a pole in my moves, but then, after a while, it became second nature, and felt instinctual to me, as if it were meant to be. Pole dancing found me. I didn’t seek to become a pole dancer until it changed my life.

How has pole dancing empowered you?
Pole dancing has opened me up to many realizations, including the fact that I previously mentioned how negative judgments in general have become insignificant to me. Pole dancing has empowered me because it brought me out of my shell. Before I started pole, I was shy and constantly doubted myself in a lot of aspects of my life. Becoming good at pole, and nailing new moves, showed me how capable, not only my body can be, but more importantly my mind. Pole dancing revealed my power and helped me believe in myself, through becoming fearless. It taught me to never give up and to keep pushing through the hardships that failure brings. It also helped me become more self aware through the close connection between my body and my mind. The importance of focusing and positive self talk became some of the new tools I gathered through pole dancing. I learned to use my emotions as fuel, and started venting through pole dancing. If I had a bad day, then I found myself pushing my anger out enough to discover more difficult moves. Pain brought beauty in this art form for me. 

What is your style, and why is it important to you?
My style is explosive. It’s powerful, intense, and fierce. I’ve heard people compare my dancing to a dragon, cat, or even being snake-like, slithering around the pole. Nevertheless, I am most comparable to a leopard, hence the multiple leopard tattoos that I possess — the main one being my head tattoo. I dance as if I were hunting out some kind of reaction from my audience and then once I grasp it, I attack with full force and tenacity. I have moments on the pole where I pause and become very still. This allows the audience to guess what my next move will be before I shock them with fearless and swift transitions. My style is important to me because it matches the side of me that I long to express boldly and freely. Its a side of me that is constantly misunderstood in my personal life, but respected when it comes to my dancing. For example, a lot of people think that, overall, I am too harsh or aggressive in my tone of voice when I speak. In reality, it’s the only way that I know how to express the passionate side of me that longs to make a difference in the world. I feel I am showing my intensity through power moves on the pole, in a way that everyone understands that part of me, on a deeper and more poetic level.

In many ways, sexual dancing and strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today. Do you feel this is celebrated? Do you feel the pole dance culture is separate from strip clubs now, or coexisting?
I partly believe that strippers have carved the path for what pole dancing has become today in the sense that it caught peoples attention, thus creating recognition in society. But it does not define the essence of what pole dancing truly is. I think that strip clubs don’t appreciate and recognize the art of what pole dancing is because the focus is based on sexuality/body parts of the dancers, rather than the skill, strength, and capability of their bodies. I think stripper style dancing is celebrated within the pole dancing community and its proven through exotic competitions and classes wrapped around wearing stripper heels. The clacking of the heels originated within the strip club realm, but has now been adopted by the professional pole community as a signature move that can be used to entice the audience. Twerking is another dance move that is popular in strip clubs, but again has now become a part of some types of exotic pole dance classes. I think pole dance culture coexists with stripper-like aspects included because it has now become a part of certain styles you can practice. I don’t think that pole dance culture has an issue with strippers. I think it’s more of an issue about what kind of audience is attracted due to the expectations behind what strip clubs bring to the table. People go in there to gain the attention of dancers to occupy them, rather than pay attention to the art of dancing in itself. I think it’s just a matter of giving credit and proper respect to the art of pole dancing, in retrospect to strip club dancing, where most of the time, the pole isn’t even used or displayed as a mandatory object to be used. 


What is your favorite part about the pole dancing community?
My favorite part about the pole dance community is the unity and variety it brings. It allows people to discover themselves and find the freedom to share who they are within their dancing style. It brings people together to build one another up not only through the art, but also by being able to perform and ignite emotion from an audience. Unity through connection with other artists and even with strangers in an audience satisfies my soul, because it feels as if I’ve found where I belong, alongside bringing me purpose through finding myself within my passion for it.


Do you have a pole dancing story and/or anything else you would like to share?
Music and pole dancing go hand in hand. Being able to perform within different music genres has further opened me up to my love for music in ways I never thought imaginable. My initial passion for dubstep music in the beginning of my dance career, in the underground rave scene, has caused me to become extremely passionate about translating the music through my body on the pole. I currently now perform weekly at a heavy metal bar called Lucky 13 Saloon, and once again, introducing my movement to a heavier genre of music such as metal has challenged me to express myself in new ways. I love being able to let go and get lost inside of the music, up until the point where it takes full control through my dancing. There is a freedom to losing yourself within this art, and that’s why freestyle dancing has always been my favorite kind of performance.

My addiction to traveling has caused me to try pole tricks in extraordinary places and under challenging conditions. I’ve done tricks in the rain, on boats, telephone poles, trees, mountaintops, banisters, billboards, tuk-tuks in other countries, and basically anywhere that I can find anything that remotely resembles a pole, including a human being. Learning how to use one of my friends as a human pole was one of the most liberating feelings I’ve ever had. Pole dancing has become a part of not only my lifestyle, but also a part of who I am.

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