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]
The rock and roll invasion in the 1950s saw the introduction of the pole to a wider audience, with Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" movie and video in 1957. The video featured Presley's famous gyrating hips as well as numerous pole slides, grinds, and twirls. [14] Eventually the pole dancing moved from tents to bars, and combined with burlesque dance. Since the 1980s, pole dancing has incorporated athletic moves such as climbs, spins, and inversions into striptease routines, first in Canada and then in the United States. In the 1990s, pole dancing commenced to be taught as an art by Fawnia Mondey, a Canadian who moved to Las Vegas, US. She created the first pole training video to use in fitness exercises.[citation needed] Since then, pole dancing classes have become a popular form of recreational and competitive sport, practiced and performed in a variety of sexual, non-sexual, and athletic settings.
Since 2003,[further explanation needed] pole dancing has been transitioning from an exotic performance to a recreational activity. Pole dancing as a sport differs from pole dancing as a recreation as recreational pole dancing is undertaken mainly for enjoyment rather than fitness. Recreational pole dancing can be seen as empowering to women as it can make women feel positively about themselves. This is because pole dancing builds confidence, power and is a way to express one’s self. When pole dancing is undertaken for enjoyment the idea of an exotic performance specifically for titillation is enhanced. Whilst undertaking pole class women will learn a variety of different ways to use the pole to execute spins, tricks, climbs and hangs. Check all studios' credentials before committing to a pole dance studio. It is common knowledge that as the difficulty of tricks and spins increase, so do the levels.[27][28]

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.[2] Pole dance requires significant strength and flexibility.[3] Upper body and core strength are required to attain proficiency, proper instruction, and rigorous training is necessary.[4][5] 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.