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The issue of Pole Fitness vs. Stripping has ignited debate again. Due to the rise in popularity of pole dance for fitness, fun, or sport, uninitiated people (muggles) are quick to compare it to stripping. And, pole fitness enthusiasts hate this comparison, but at the same time, strippers hate being stigmatized even further thanks to their job becoming a fitness trend.
Welcome to Confessions of Pole Dance Instructor! This is a series of blog posts where Pole Dance Instructors (like myself) share our stories. But, this isn’t the usual type of post in the ‘Confessions’ series as it features none of the usual embarrassing stores or tales of woe! This post will discuss the similarities between pole dancing for fitness and stripping for your job.
Let’s discuss this calmly, sensibly and paying attention to both sides of the coin.
Have you ever experienced this series of events?
One of your friends has started going to pole dancing lessons, only to be met with the everlasting stigma of “…You mean, like stripping?”
“IT’S FOR FITNESS!!!!” growls your friend in response, pre-conditioned to jump to the defense of their new hobby.
That’s an ever-so-common situation to be in; witnessing new and experienced pole dancers alike desperate to let people know that their lessons are fitness-focused, not focussed on stripping, lap dancing or pleasing men.
This line of defense has even evolved into a hashtag, #NotAStripper, found littered around Instagram accompanying pictures of people of varying skill posing on a pole in a sports bra, shorts, and legwarmers. #NotAStripper
In response to this, many strippers are reclaiming their position with a rival hashtag: #YesAStripper, also littered around Instagram, accompanying pictures of people of varying skill posing on a pole in their underwear and high heel shoes. #YesAStripper
See where I’m going with this? Pole dancing for fitness and being a stripper is really not all that different.
Pole Fitness vs. Stripping – What’s the Big Deal?
There has been growing animosity between strippers and pole fitness enthusiasts, which doesn’t help either side.
You’re not supposed to be at war with each other! You’re supposed to be supporting each other! It is, after all, mostly women who are responsible for orchestrating this unhelpful debate.
Before we continue, here’s a disclaimer. I am #NotAStripper (although I disagree with the sentiments behind the hashtag). I am a Pole Fitness instructor, who started my pole fitness journey as an absolute beginner.
I’ve worked closely with many strippers (#YesAStripper) in my life as a pole fitness instructor. Hence why I feel so strongly about the similarities between our professions and pastimes.
Ending the Pole Dancing Stigma
Come on, guys. It’s 2018. Do we really need to still have a stigma around pole dancing, no matter whether the intent is stripping or fitness? No, we don’t.
This is why it’s so important that the #NotAStrippers and the #YesAStrippers support each other. By continuing to fight and argue, it just strengthens the stigma and makes it easier for people on the outside to attack either side.
It’s not just about solidarity, it’s about common sense.
Acknowledging the Differences
OK, so there are some differences between stipping as a job and pole dancing for fitness. For starters, strippers get paid to pole dance, whereas pole dancers pay to attend fitness classes. So there’s a +1 for strippers!
In all seriousness, the ‘stripping’ industry differs depending on which country you live in. In the US, dancers earn money in strip clubs simply by dancing on the pole – people slip them money during or after their performance. Whereas in the UK or Europe, strippers actually spend very little time dancing on the pole and much more time chatting with men in the club, encouraging them to buy a private dance and actually stripping.
Strip Club or Gym?
In some strip clubs, some dancers spend very little time actually dancing on the pole, if any at all. Instead, their job is to greet customers, sit and chat with them, laugh at their jokes, make them feel welcome and finally strip for them.
In other strip clubs, the dancers dance on the poles but rarely perform any true spins or acrobatic tricks. But most strippers will probably find that their job entails a combination of both. Strippers don’t actually ‘strip’ while dancing on that pole – that’s done in private rooms with paying customers. The pole dancing in strip clubs is like a sales pitch, a convincer, or a method of enticing men to pay for private dances.
That doesn’t mean to say that strippers are lesser pole dancers than those who do it for fitness, not by any means. I’m just trying to explain the real situation for readers who may not be familiar with the way that strip clubs function!
Often, strippers have such a hectic schedule themselves that they don’t have much time to practice and perfect their technique or routines, unlike pole fitness enthusiasts who seem to practice all the time! Strippers don’t always have their own pole to practice with, meaning they have to ‘wing it’ during their performances on-stage.
Strippers are definitely under much more pressure, as they don’t get a second attempt on a busy night in a strip club, if they mess up then they can’t try again.
Acknowledging the Similarities
Then again, there are more similarities than differences when it comes to pole fitness vs. stripping. Both pole dancing for fitness and for stripping requires lots of bare skin, in fact, the clothes worn at a pole fitness class and in a strip club are essentially the same (minus a few sparkles). It’s even common to find students wearing 7-inch stripper heels in a pole fitness class, with a pair of tiny shorts and a cropped-top – almost identical to what the stripper would wear in the club.
Strippers also perform many of the same tricks that you’ll do in a regular pole fitness class, many strippers have actually been to pole fitness classes too, you know! Many of them have also learned on the job, by watching other dancers and by practicing in their spare time.
The tricks that strippers perform at work include:
- Front-hook spin
- Drop splits
- Cross-Knee Release
Sound familiar? Exactly the same stuff that you learn in a pole fitness class, right?
Pole Fitness vs Stripping: Compared
Here’s a quick comparison table, comparing pole fitness classes and strip clubs:
|Pole Fitness Classes||Stripping|
|People pay $20-70 for a 1-hour lesson||Strippers get paid $20-$100 for a 15-minute dance|
|Need to wear shorts to grip the pole||Need to wear shorts to grip the pole|
|People wear heels in pole fitness classes because they look good and feel sexy||Strippers wear heels at work because they look good and feel sexy|
|Performing tricks, spins, inversions and floor work||Performing tricks, spins, inversions and floor work|
|Stigmatized for their choice of hobby||Stigmatized for their choice of job|
Which came first? Fitness or Stripping?
In the grand scheme of things, certainly an arguable topic! Pole dancing originated in the far east, as a sport performed by men. Their technique has many similarities to modern ‘pole dancing’ or ‘pole fitness’. However, stripping has also existed since ancient civilizations. So, who knows?!
However, strip clubs featuring pole dancers have been a thing for longer than mainstream pole dancing for fitness classes.
That’s right, many of the tricks, spins and inversions you perform were performed by strippers, long before a pole dancing studio opened up in your town!
The purpose of this article is not to stigmatize either side, it simply aims for learners of pole fitness to appreciate how offensive they’re being when they use #NotAStripper, implying that stripping is something to be ashamed of (it isn’t).
Most of the readers of this blog are interested in pole fitness. We recently asked our mailing list about their interest in pole dancing and almost all of them were beginner-intermediate dancers. We want our readers to see things from the point of view of a stripper, understanding what the impact of their defensive implications.
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If you’re a Pole Dance Instructor (or a stripper!) and you’re interested in submitting your story or experience, you can do so here.