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,[9] performed mostly by Ghawazi dancers making their first appearance in America.[10] In an era where women dressed modestly in corsets, the dancers, dressed in short skirts and richly adorned in jewelry, caused quite a stir.[11][12] During the 1920s, dancers introduced pole by sensually gyrating on the wooden tent poles to attract crowds.[13]
K.T. Coates, a famed competitive pole dancer, and the International Pole Sports Federation, are currently promoting a campaign to include competitive pole dance in the Olympics and an application was made to the International Olympic Committee to recognise pole as a sport in September 2016.[15] Numerous competitions exist, including the World Pole Sport Championship, U.S. Pole Federation Championship, Pole Art, Miss Pole Dance America, and the International Pole Masters Cup Championship.[16]
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.
Always use a crash mat designed for pole dancing as they can protect you from some nasty falls and injuries. As you’ll be learning pole dancing at home, and not in a studio, it’s important that you take these extra precautions as there will be no one to blame but yourself if the unthinkable happens. Read our safety guide for pole dancing at home (opens in a new tab).

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The standard dance pole typically consists of a hollow chrome, steel, or brass pole with a circular cross section, running from floor to ceiling. Affixing at the ceiling gives more stability, but is not always realized, especially at night clubs with higher ceilings or at transportable devices.[17] In most countries,[18] including the United States, the diameter is usually 50 mm (2 inches), or the now more popular 45 mm (1.75 inches), allowing it to be gripped comfortably with one hand. In Asia, the diameter is usually 45 mm or less.[19] In Australia a 38 mm pole is popular.[18]