The former usually compete in a large well-lit hall or gym before a quiet crowd and a handful of judges.
The latter are best known to gyrate around, shimmy up to, climb and then slide down a vertical pole in a relatively small, dimly-lit room filled with heavy, back beat music and stale air; their audience, mostly bug-eyed men.
But a group of pole-dancing advocates are hoping to bring the physical activity that is associated with stripping and tipping out of the seedy clubs and into the international sports arena.
The Aug. 10th Wall Street Journal
reports that the International Pole Sports Federation is asking the International Olympic Committee to include pole dancing, or “pole sports” as they call it, in the 2016 Olympics. And they have good reason.
The popularity of pole dancing continues to grow from housewives looking for a change-up in the bedroom to those seeking a pumped up fitness routine that can give the equivalent workout of a Zumba class
But major issues could prevent pole dancing from being recognized as a legitimate sport. Terminology and attire are two problem areas that the IPSF is addressing.
Traditional gymnasts wear form-fitting leotards that reveal their sculpted and toned torsos. Pole dancers don two-piece outfits consisting of a top that everything spills out of and a bottom that resembles dental floss where it is actually visible and hasn't disappeared into a crevice.
The audience at a gymnastics event is a mixture of men, women, and children; the focus of both audience and gymnasts is on form and technical aspects. The spectators are for the most part quiet during the performance and applaud at the end.
Where pole dancing occurs the spectators are mostly men 18 and over unless alcohol is served, and then they are 21 and over.
The focus of the pole dancer is who has the most money, which then determines the form and technique employed. The audience members’ focus follows whatever body part is covered the least and moves the most. The atmosphere surrounding the performance is such that cheering, jeering, and shouting profanities is encouraged.
Another major difference — pole dancing competition can get so fierce that fist fights break out among spectators and sometimes the dancers. Traditional gymnasts and their audiences appear to be a bit more refined.
Among those seeking to help the IFPS’s difficult but not impossible challenge is Change.org
. They have drawn up a petition to the International Olympic Committee in hopes to get 100,000 signatures. To date, they have 16.
In 2010, a petition aimed at getting Pole Dancing into the 2012 Olympics raised 6,000 signatures far short of the number needed, reported the CBC
Here is an excerpt from Change.org’s petition:
"Pole dancing should be made an Olympic Sport because it meets the fine Olympic criteria for athletics and athletic competition. It takes Agility, Acrobatics, Aerobics, Balance, Choreography, Determination, Dance, Energy, Engagement, Flexibility, Focus, Floor Work, Foot Work, Gymnastics, Grace. Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit, Poise, Physical Fitness, Rhythm, Upper And Lower Body Strength, Core Strength, Hand Strength, Stamina, Style, Yoga, Showmanship, And So Much More. The Time is here for 2016.”
Stephanie Pfeiffer of Snow Camp, NC had this comment, following the petition
“Add this to the winter olympics and I just might watch more than the skiing...add this...get rid of curling. Seriously....”
Does this appear to be an admirable and respectable goal of the IFPS? Yes.
Attainable? Probably not.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
One thing is certain — If the IPSF is successful in its bid to include pole dancing in the Olympics, NBC will have its work cut out finding qualified commentators.