Today’s pop culture morsel up for discussion is the idea that pole dancing should become an Olympic Sport. This will no doubt be welcome news to, well, pole dancers. And a certain demographic of would-be spectators.
Before you start writing your pre-emptive letter of complaint to the IOC (or alternatively, sign up for pole dancing classes in a desperate bid for Olympic glory), hold fire. At the moment, the only people insisting pole dancing be considered Olympic-Sport-Worthy are…..pole dancers.
The UK’s Independent newspaper reports…Pole dancing? In the Olympics?
Absolutely, say thousands of pole dancers and the rapidly growing number of international and national federations transforming what was once the exclusive property of strip clubs and cheap bars into a respectable — and highly athletic — event.
It’s admittedly a high bar.
Established sports such as squash and cricket have failed to make the Olympics, baseball and softball were recently cut, and the International Olympic Committee’s decision to end its support of nonofficial, demonstration sports after the Summer Games in 1992 has made gaining a foothold, the way judo and taekwondo did, all that much harder.
No matter, pole dance enthusiasts say.
Hong Kong-based Ania Przeplasko, founder of the International Pole Dancing Fitness Association, the sport’s fledgling supervisory body, believes Olympic recognition is only a matter of time and would be a victory for under appreciated sports worldwide.
“There will be a day when the Olympics see pole dancing as a sport,” she said. “The Olympic community needs to acknowledge the number of people doing pole fitness now. We’re shooting for 2012.”
Pole dance advocates note that more unlikely sports have gotten the IOC’s approval. Tug of war, for example, was one of the early Olympic medal contests. Equestrian events are in the Olympics, but who owns a horse? Curling, which virtually no one pays any attention to in non-Olympic years, has become one of the Winter Games’ biggest darlings.
Lina Laatikainen, one of Finland’s top pole teachers, likens pole dancing to skateboarding and snowboarding, two sports that have gotten serious mainstream attention without completely abandoning their rebellious roots.
“I think getting in the Olympics would be great for the sport,” she said. “I actually see a lot of similarities in what pole dancing is now for women with what skateboarding used to be for men back in the day. Pole dancing is definitely on its way to becoming a mainstream sport.”
But some pole dancers worry the sensual side of pole dancing, and its counterculture undertones, would be destroyed in an effort to clean it up for the Olympics. After all, would it really be the same without stilettos, a boozy audience and a red-tinted spotlight? And how do you score for sexiness?
Others fear old-school pole dancers would be eaten alive by gymnasts, who could easily make the conversion from other apparatuses, circus performers or Chinese acrobats, who have a long tradition of performing aerial tricks.
This raises some interesting points and also makes me giggle a little bit. “The names of the techniques vary among different clubs” she says? Yes. Some people call it ‘The Leg Spread’ while others call it ‘Leave It To Beaver”.
I’ve done pole dancing classes a few times. It’s bloody hard, I’ll say that much. And also possibly that I’ve never felt less sexy in my life than I did while trying to swing around a pole without knocking myself out with my own foot.
Do you consider pole dancing a sport? Note how it’s referred to as ‘pole fitness’ by some? And what other “sports” do you wish were represented at the Olympics?
I’m going to go for Synchronished Stripping. Or Feeding Breakfast To Demanding Children At Some UnGodly Hour Without Losing My Shit.
Because I SERIOUSLY deserve a gold medal for that.