Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pole dancing: sport, recreation, or vocation...who will decide for us?

I've never been a sports fan, nor a fan of dance. So maybe I'm not the right person to rant about this subject. I don't know rather to laugh about it or think, "what nerve?" I don't even really know why this issue gets on my nerves. Maybe it's the motives behind the scenes. Yea that's it. It's not about sports or dance, or even the Olympics.

I never cease to be amazed how some people try to make something more than what it is. We even dress up the names to make them sound more sophisticated and inviting. I recently read an article regarding the attempt to make pole dancing one of the Olympic sports. WHAT?! So I looked into it.

A petition held in London quotes, "After a great deal of feedback from the pole dance community, many of us have decided that it's about time pole fitness is recognized as a competitive sport and what better way for recognition than to be part of the 2012 Olympics!" I didn't realize there was this "community" of pole dancers. Talk about jumping head first.

Apparently dancers with a pole are now no longer "pole dancers." They are "athletic artists" or "aerial dancers." What a nice way of calling something, something it's not. They need to make up their minds. Are they dancers, athletes, strippers, fitness, or what? Cuz there's going to be a lot of confused lonely men out there. There's even a U.S. Pole Dance Championship. But that's been around for a while. Even more surprisingly, there actually is currently a bid to enter pole dancing as a test sport in the 2012 Olympics in order to make it official for the 2016 Olympics. And many people thought including the trampoline to the Olympics was a stretch.

Oh, and the pole is no longer a "pole." It's a "vertical bar." I'm sure everyone in this community is aware of all this. But "Joe" public? No, we think of strip clubs and dollar bills when we hear the words, "pole" and "dancing" put together. Not Olympics. Who cares? A pole is a freaking pole!

The scene has never caught my attention, but pole dancing a sport? I wonder how that conversation started out. "You know Trixy, there's got to be more to dancing than straddling this pole at the Candy Cane. This should be recognized for what it is. Something bigger. I've got a dream!"

I'm not about to go into the physical aspects and hard work it takes to be a pole dancer. I for one do not have that right. I can see it's hard work to maintain their bodies and stay in shape. It requires a great deal of core strength, and concentration. But it has nothing to do with how difficult something is to do in order to get recognized for it. People do difficult things all the time.

One fitness studio owner argued, "pole dancing should not be confused with stripping." Well, see that's the problem. It is confused with it. "Here's an idea, put some clothes on!" Aside from its own little world of fitness, pole dancers are in strip clubs. Most don't even recognize it as dancing let alone a sport. It's known as stripping. After years of attempting to get the public to recognize it as dancing, they now resort to getting us to see as a sport? It's like saying, "Hey, the dancing thing didn't work out. Maybe if we try calling it a sport people won't look at it trashy."

Guess who their biggest fans are that's pushing for their entry into the games? You guessed it. MEN! Oh, but I'm sure they're in it for the love of the game.

The same fitness studio owner claimed, "We are some of the safest, most skilled athletes. I liken it to cliff climbing." "Hello! You have four feet to fall! What can go wrong on that fall down? How do you compare that to plummeting 50 feet to your death?"

One British company compares pole dancing to gymnastics, "Like the horizontal bar, the vertical bar should have a place in international competitive sport. We believe that like Rythmatic Gymnastic, the Horizontal Bar and Figure Skating, Pole Dance/Vertical Dance is acrobatic, gymnastic, technical and takes a great deal of physical skill and strength to master, earning it a place in the greatest sporting event in the world."

I'll give it to you that it takes physical skill and strength. And I'll admit, my viewing of pole dancing is limited to what I have seen in movies and on TV. But the same as Rythmatic Gymnastic, the Horizontal Bar and Figure Skating?

Yes, the "vertical bar" is a prop, but can it be juggled and thrown in the air as those rythmatic gymnastics do with their props while flipping and flopping and spinning? And sure the "vertical bar" goes up and down compared to the "boring" old "horizontal" bar, but can a "vertical" dancer do flips and spins and twirls with no hands without breaking their neck? Pole dancing doesn't even compare to figure skating. Strap on razor sharp shoes, have someone grab you by one wrist and one ankle, swing you around, throw you in the air, spin, catch, land you, and all without slicing you open and grace then maybe.

I understand pole dancing is its own discipline. Many want to recognize it as a sport. If that's the case, I think it's a bit too soon. It's the main attraction of every closest strip club. And here's the thing, it's the pole dancers and their federations that want this viewed as a legit sport. Even baseball and softball were recently cut from the Olympics. Well established sports such as squash and cricket have failed to make the cut.

Then again some of what I think, and this my opinion, the most ridiculous activities have made the Olympic cuts. Activities such as equestrian events and curling. I call them activities because anything can be made into a contest. To me, there's contests and then there's sports.

One of Finland's top pole dance teachers, likens pole dancing to skateboarding and snowboarding. I quote her saying, "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." She was referring to how skateboarding was viewed as rebellious in its beginning days before its popularity.

What good modeling does?

"WTH?" First off, skateboarding didn't get its start in a cheap dark strip club working for dollar bills at the expense of weak males. Skateboarding didn't use the exploitation of women. Skateboarding didn't demoralize women or use men or encourage adultery or encourage financial instability as the early days of pole dancing. There are no similarities. But hey, if you want liken yourself that, that's your right.

There are some things that just cannot be turned into something else. I wonder what it is she is seeing that pole dancing is doing for women. Individually maybe a stretch, but collectively no. I have seen some instances get attention in the news here and there involving pole dancing and lay people. They were never good. Other than fitness what can pole dancing bring you? A spicier sex life?

So it seems to me making pole dancing mainstream is a step backwards. For both women and men. Because the fact remains society still views pole dancing as erotic and sensual whether it's negatively or positively. To take it out of its element would be like seeing a fish with legs walk out of the water.

I wonder if those pushing for pole dancing in the Olympics have thought this through? What if men want to participate? What about the judges...male, female?  We can't forget product placements, endorsements, and especially the toys for kids. I'm not buying my daughter a little pole set. For some reason the thought comes to mind, "you can take the pole out of the club, but you can't take the club out of the pole."

I definitely do not support pole dancing , my bad, vertical ballet or aerial dancing or whatever you want to call it in the Olympics. Like I said, I understand it is its own discipline with federations and championships. But it has a long way to go before the majority of people consider it appropriate for public consumption with viewing it with sensual or sexual undertones.

How would an Olympic competition compare to the girls at your nearest "Jiggly Room?" What makes one event worthy to wear the label "sport" while the other is deemed "trashy?" Would I be able to sit in my living room and watch you perform in the Olympics with my children? With my wife? I needed to know what I was talking about for this post. So I checked out the different US Pole Dancing Championships on YouTube.....

"A rose by any other name is still a rose."

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I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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