Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Soap Box Time

This has nothing to do with Portland, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. I am facebook friends with a professional pole dancer from Brazil who I met at a competition almost a year ago. She's wicked strong and an incredibly talented gymnast, so when she posted an article about pole dancing on which one of her photos was the cover photo, I was pumped for her. I immediately clicked the link. Ok, first of all, the editing is appallingly bad. I'm guessing the writer didn't even bother to do a once-over to proof read, which only shows how little regard she has for what she is writing.
Second, she kept referencing how far pole dancing has come from strip clubs. The entire article is about how some pole dancers are trying to get pole into the Olympics, presumably to legitamize it as a sport. Here is my soapbox speech on that issue: Pole dancing is not a sport. It is an art form. It is an art form that requires almost inhuman flexibility, strength, and grace. It is an expression of your accomplishments as an athlete, as well as what you are experiencing at that moment. And quite honestly, I don't need to be legitimized by the Olympic Committee as a pole dancer, thank you very much. I actually believe that if pole dancing became an Olympic sport, it would strip (pun absolutely intended) the sensuality of pole. Sexuality and sensuality do not have a place in sports in our culture. They are attached to our baser instincts, and therefore, less revered. While I think that this is crap, it is still the culture we live in. That being said, if we took an innately sensual art form like pole dancing and inserted it into the Olympics, in order for Pole dancers to truly feel legitimate, the sensual aspects would slowly disappear. And then there's this whole, separation of pole and stripping business. I loathe the idea that pole dancing is becoming less and less like its parent, stripping. Stripping is the only original dance form that the United States can claim as it's own. Striptease came out of burlesque in the 1920s and started in the U.S. then expanded to the rest of the world. I think it's pretty freakin' awesome that we didn't create ballet, or salsa, or river dancing, but, damn it, we've got the corner market on striptease. Striptease is an art form in and of itself and many women use it in their pole routines to tell a story. It's beautiful to watch,too.
Pole dancing does great things for womens' bodies, as many pole dancers will attest. But more importantly, pole dancing does even more profound things to the mind. Until, I became intrigued with using striptease, lap dance, and burlesque in my pole routines, I never understood how powerful an effect my body could have on an audience. Up until that point I saw my body as strictly utilitarian, because I understood the sexuality of my body to be something that should be managed and not celebrated. The first time I ever stripped for a burlesque-chair routine, I noticed that never before had I had a more captive audience (and I only stripped to my bra and panties!) I would never want a woman to look at pole dancing and think "Wow, that's a great workout!" I constantly tell women who say that, that "Yes, pole dancing is a great workout. But it also taught me how to love my body just as it is and, through that self-love, to stop feeling threatened by other women and connect with them." Pole dancing is intimate and it exposes both the performer's vulnerability and the audience's. There is someone who is using their body in a distinctly sensual way right in front of you, the audience, and you can't help but watch, enjoy, notice her straining muscles, and hope she takes off that dress before she does some crazy trick. So, I say "Keep poles in strip clubs and keep stripping in pole!"
Photo Credits from top to bottom: Rafaela Montanaro's Facebook page, Vintage burlesque via google images, my first burlesque routine And just so everyone knows, I did do a once-over to proofread.

No comments:

Post a Comment