The number of men pole dancing continues to grow every year. There are men’s divisions in competitions now, and I usually have at least one man in all the classes I take or teach. Men’s natural inclination toward upper body strength makes them ideal candidates for the sport. There are many ancient forms of pole dancing such as Chinese pole and Mallakhamb, which have been performed throughout history and almost exclusively by men.
In 2016, Daily Dot ran a story which covered the attempt by some pole dancers to distance themselves from strippers, with their story "Strippers Talk Back to the hashtag #Notastripper". The story utilized the hashtag "yes a stripper" in support of the origins of pole dance. On the social media platform Instagram, some pole dancers try to differentiate between their exercise method, and the origin of the method, by using "not a stripper" as a hashtag. The hashtag can be viewed as derogatory, and pole dancing strippers utilize "yes a stripper" as a defense against the denigration of their style of dance, which is created and used in strip clubs.
Because what we do is still considered taboo by many, there is a unique closeness that bonds us together. There are pole dancers of all professions, ethnicities, religions, cultures, sizes, and ages. I have friends all over the world because of pole dancing. I have friends who have been able to travel the world because of it. We support each other through learning new moves. We share each other’s videos. We watch each other perform. This shared interest bonds us with a special understanding.
Pole dance in America has its roots in the "Little Egypt" traveling sideshows of the 1890s, which featured sensual "Kouta Kouta" or "Hoochie Coochie" belly dances, performed mostly by Ghawazi dancers making their first appearance in America. In an era where women dressed modestly in corsets, the dancers, dressed in short skirts and richly adorned in jewelry, caused quite a stir. During the 1920s, dancers introduced pole by sensually gyrating on the wooden tent poles to attract crowds.