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History of Pole

From Rebecca Hennes' Pole Moves Beginner/Intermediate Pole Fitness Manual (2013) "History":


           "Despite dramatic fitness results, pole fitness classes have not yet made it into the health club scene. This could pos​sibly be because when a person hears "pole dancing," and even "pole fitness," the first word that enters their mind is probably 'stripper' or 'sex.' 

          . . . Since it will take time to increase mainstream acceptance of pole fitness, it is important to learn about the history of pole dancing and pole fitness in order to dispel any misconceptions that the general public may have. 

          Pole fitness today is a hybrid of athletic, and theatrical, male sports and female erotic dance and circus performing. The history of pole dancing can be traced back over two thousand years to dances that were performed by women for women and to an Indian sport called Mallakhamb, Chinese Pole, and also side shows in traveling circus' and more recently 'Gentleman's Clubs.'

           . . . The origins of Mallakhamb can be traced back to the twelfth century, though the art lay largely dormant until it was revived in the first half of the nineteenth century. Mallakhamb, as well as Chinese Pole, is predominantly a male sport. Though they're used in similar ways, a Mallakhamb and a Chinese Pole pole is quite different from the western pole dancing pole. The Mallakhamb pole is made of wood, is larger in diameter, and has a wooden ball on the top of it. It resembles a large upside down wooden baseball bat. Chinese Pole is usally performed on two poles. The men will hop from pole to pole and perform many gravity defying tricks. Chinese poles are approximately twenty feet high.

           The history of pole dancing in the West is very different from that of India's Mallakhamb. Western Pole dancing originated in the nineteen-twenties at the height of the American depression. Traveling fairs would go from town to town enteraining the crowds. As part of the fair there would be many different types of side shows in small tents surrounding the main tent. 

            In one of the side tents, girls would dance suggestively on a small stage in front of crowds of cheering men. Due to size of the tent, the tent pole would be situated at the very edge of the stage. The dancer would approach the tent pole and begin to dance with it. The tent pole became known, as the 'dance pole,' which still exists today.

           Pole dancing, gradually began evolving from tents to bars as burlesque became more acceptable in nineteen-fifties, and then in the nineteen-eighties pole dancing and striptease became popular in Canada and then in the United States.

           In the nineteen-nineties, Fawnia Mondey Dietrich produced the first instructional DVD.

           There have been numerous pole competitions in the United States since 2009 and poledancing has been in movies and morning news broadcasts. All of these together with YouTube most likely helped to normalize pole as an exercise modality. . . "

Pole Dance in the Olympics:

K.T. Coates initiated the effort to include Pole dancing in the Olympics. Many hope to see this ​in the future Olympics.

Watch these amazing videos that exemplify the beauty, grace, strength, flexibility, and athleticism that define the art of vertical fitness. 

Karo Swen

Hamish McCann

Pole in Advertising

2018 PSO U.S. National Pole Champion Ashley Fox

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