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This is another staple move for beginners to have in their repertoire. It’s also a good way to start building up your pain threshold, as this move hurts – quite a lot! You can introduce yourself to thigh-grip fairly quickly and in a controlled way, by sitting on the pole but still holding on with your hands, then you can slowly remove your hands as you build up grip strength.
Despite progress in the public’s understanding of what we do, many of us still fight stereotypes. Some of pole dancing’s loudest critics have never tried it themselves. Just last year, Marina Heck, a schoolteacher, was forced to resign from her position following controversy that she is a pole dancer. Even if what we are doing is completely athletic and far removed from the type of pole dancing performed in strip clubs, we still need to explain ourselves. Many times when revealing to strangers what it is I do, I find myself hesitating because I don’t feel like justifying my passion to a skeptic.
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.
Poles come in a variety of materials and coatings where each material possesses its own properties, advantages and disadvantages. The materials poles are made of are brass, titanium – gold, stainless steel and chrome. The brass and titanium – gold poles are gold in colour and are used to enhance the grip between the pole and the dancer, these poles are normally used by more advanced dancers. The stainless steel poles aren’t as popular as the other types as they do not have the finest grip however, they are used by dancers who have sensitive skin. The chrome poles are silver in colour and are most popular amongst beginners. The finishes some dance poles may possess are silicone sleeves and powder coatings. Silicone sleeves can provide maximum grip, however, there are safety precautions dancers must take and consider before using silicone sleeves. These measures can include a great amount of clothing to be worn by the dancer and only static moves can be performed. Poles that are coated in powder can provide the best friction and maximum grip for dancers.
When walking around the pole, you need to pay attention to your body’s position in relation to the pole, as well as ensuring that your shoulders are rotated back and you maintain good posture. The way that you walk is important too, walking on tip-toes or wearing high heel shoes (optional for beginners) will give your legs a killer workout, as well as make you look more elegant. Keep your toes pointed too!
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. However, these poles are not favorable to a dancer wanting to achieve better pole tricks, as they bend slightly and have a tendency to create a friction burn when slid down with any sort of speed.
Pole dance requires significant muscular endurance and coordination (as well as sensuality, in exotic dancing). Today, pole performances by exotic dancers range from basic spins and striptease in more intimate clubs, to athletic moves such as climbs and body inversions in the "stage heavy" clubs of Las Vegas and Miami. Dancer Remy Redd at the King of Diamonds, for example, is famous for flipping herself upside down into a split and hanging from the ceiling. Pole dance requires significant strength and flexibility. Upper body and core strength are required to attain proficiency, proper instruction, and rigorous training is necessary. Since the mid 2000s, promoters of pole dance fitness competitions have been trying to change peoples' perception of pole dance to include pole fitness as a non-sexual form of dance and acrobatics, and are trying to move pole into the Olympics as pole sports.