I don’t think that pole dancing gets enough credit or appreciation as a very difficult form of performance art. There is a great degree of skill involved in successfully executing a beautiful show. A highly skilled dancer can perform her pole work with incredible speed and agility. Pole dancing is a combination of acrobatics and freestyle dance and requires an incredible amount of strength to be performed properly. It should look effortless and weightless, almost like it is being done underwater. In a five-minute routine, a dancer would be switching from upside down positions to spins while also switching from supporting her entire body weight with her legs to her arms. A dancer would be doing all those things while in sky-high heels, while keeping time with the beat of some horrible Nickelback song and while being in front of an audience of unsophisticated drunkards. Then she has to run around and collect dollar bills like she’s a starving kid at a birthday party collecting candy when the piñata just got busted open, and then she has to run off stage to let the next stripper partake in the magic.
Of course, as a stripper, you would also have to be naked while looking graceful, hot and nasty the entire time. From experience, I would say that pole dancing and the general strip club stage experience is more challenging than ballet but does not get a fraction of the cultural appreciation. I am guessing that the erotic nature of the performance keeps it from getting any real respect. I wasn’t all that great in ballet classes (one UNLV ballet instructor pulled my hair in frustration) but I was certainly better at ballet than at pole dancing.
Pole dancing is gaining popularity outside of strip clubs. Not only is it challenging to make a pole dancing performance aesthetically pleasing, it is an incredible physical challenge. When I said it takes a great deal of strength to execute many of the pole dance moves, I mean a good night of pole dancing will hurt for several days after a shift. It combines aerobic and anaerobic activity and is catching on as a fun way to work out. Pole dancing classes are available to civilians at many fitness centers around the nation now. My Catholic mother even bought a box set of some stripper fitness home workout DVDs.
I’m still terrible at pole dancing. After many and many a month performing in the Mecca of the strip club universe, why wouldn’t I take pole dancing more seriously? For starters, there is barely any correlation between an excessively skilled stage performance and a significant increase in nightly earnings. I treat the stage as a way to display the assets and do some light meet and greet. I am more likely to focus on slow floor work and simple spins around the pole (the dying cat routine). It is simply a presentation on a pedestal in the spotlight in an otherwise dimly lit joint. Men who hadn’t yet noticed me get the opportunity to do so, and let me know if they are interested by staring like fools or coming up to the stage and tipping me. Men might be a little impressed by acrobatics, but they would be at a Cirque du Soleil show if they weren’t more interested in seeing T and A on their trip to Vegas.
Another issue I have with pole performance is that it can be extremely dangerous. There are many clubs with clearly posted signs that clearly state that no one is allowed to wear baby oil. Of course, no one cares about the rules and they wear it if they feel like wearing it. Baby oil plus a stripper pole equals sudden death. Baby oil provides enough lubrication on a pole to make any attempt at gripping it futile. When you are supporting your body weight on a baby-oil-buttered pole, it is easy to slip and crack your skull open or suffer comparable injuries. Somewhere on an online message board I read about a stripper claiming she broke some vertebrae from an injury associated with a losing her grip on a pole as a result of other stripper’s irresponsible baby oil usage. Health insurance is not offered at any strip club that I’ve ever been associated with. It doesn’t make sense to risk the possibility of getting seriously injured on the job when you don’t even have the means of getting medical treatment. I am clumsy enough as it is. I once fell at work because using the stairs proved to be too great of a challenge for me. How could I ever hope to safely master the pole?
I have found that a smile, a great personality, and an ample pair of boobs are much more important than acrobatics if money is concerned. I can certainly appreciate a good pole dancing show while I’m collecting money off the stage, though.