In recent years, I have seen many a pole dancer be outspoken on social media about the injustices of the world and what their followers can do to help their cause. Gradually, this outspoken behaviour has gained momentum, with plenty more accounts sharing petitions (shout out to my homie Blogger on Pole who is doing the work big time) hosting live seminars and generally spreading the word about how we can make the world a fairer place to live in.
In all honesty did any of you expect that when you signed up to your first pole dance class you would be entering a realm full of such outspoke and empowered people? Because I definitely didn’t! However the longer I spent in the pole dance world, the more I realised there was way more to it than just getting your chopper and obtaining several tasty bruises along the way. So should pole dancers be as political and vocal about social issues as they are (or even more so?) or should we keep the worlds of pole dance and politics completely separate?
Fuck yes we should be political and vocal as hell.
The pole dance industry wants to pride itself on being an “inclusive and diverse” community, but sadly at the moment it isn’t. Even in 2020, I saw instructors from both the UK and USA share All Lives Matter bullshit (I unfollowed those daft cunts pretty quickly), showcases consisting of all white, cis, slim and able bodied people, a shit tonne of subtle and not so subtle fatphobic comments and most recently, well known dancers bragging about opening their studios in the midst of a pandemic, being anti-maskers and spreading dangerous, false information. This sort of fuckery cannot be allowed to continue. If we want to truly be an inclusive community, then that means standing up against and stamping out the aforementioned bullshit, and yes that involves getting political.
I’m well aware that paying attention to the news and many injustices of the world can feel overwhelming, however, choosing to not pay attention to politics is a prime example of privilege and is not a luxury that everyone has. There are vast quantities pole dancers across the world who are massively impacted by political decisions on a daily basis and, they’re the key, founding members of our industry. Off the top of my head, BIPOC people, sex workers, strippers, plus size people and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are being discriminated against and marginalised by governments across the world. Therefore those of us who are non – marginalised I believe have duty to step up, support them and ultimately have their backs.
One of my good friends in the pole dance industry came to pole dance from the Roller Derby world. After speaking to them and watching a Roller Derby documentary ( I recommend Netflix’s Home Game series, as episode four is all about Texas Roller Derby) it became apparent that pole is very white, cis and nowhere near as diverse as he Roller Derby universe. As previously mentioned, it has become apparent this year that people from marginalised communities are still not being properly represented in the pole industry, but if we get off our arses and step up we can work to change that.
Whilst I have my beliefs and make an effort to follow the news and keep up to date with what’s going on in the world, I am in no way an expert, but I like to educate myself and learn from those who are more informed than me. Off the top of my head, I recommend following activists and educators like Soldiers of Pole, the East London Strippers Collective (ELSC), Riots and Crows, Novacainedances, Hoodlum Fang, Jordan Kensley, Anne Marie Davies, Bamm Rose, Nadia Shariff and Every Body Visible to name a few. These people are frequently doing so much work to raise awareness of injustices both inside and out of the pole industry , so do give them a follow.
Sadly, whilst there are many awesome pole accounts like those mentioned above who are using their platform for all the good, we still have a long way to go in terms of being vocal in the pole dance industry. There are dancers out there with an absolute shiteload of followers (I’m talking 50k plus here) that are a bit too quiet for my liking. Some post the odd few bits here and there, but there are quite a few that are completely silent on issues that in my opinion need speaking about. Again because not only do they directly affect members of the pole dance industry and beyond, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Now, as mentioned above there is an obvious argument for keeping politics out of the pole world. For many of us, pole dance is the best form of escapism from all the bullshit, and being on a journey of learning and activism against injustices can be overwhelming and escapism is therefore exactly what’s needed. However, when these injustices permeate and manifest in their own way in the pole dance industry, not all members of the pole industry have the luxury of being able to enjoy some escapism quite so easily. Of course I’m not stating that everyone must be on an activism quest 24/7 with zero downtime, but at the very least we should be showing support to our fellow pole dancers in one way or another.
Most importantly, it’s bullshit political nonsense that’s fucking up our hobby! Remember way back in the day when you could post a #SundayBumday picture on Instagram without fear of your account being closed down? Well we have the delightful Fosta and Sesta to thank for a stop being put to that. It was political decisions that caused the whole shadow banning shit show to go down, and us pole dancers were not the first to be affected by that bullshit. Our stripper and sex worker friends among others were the first to experience the wrath of that particular beast. They warned the wider pole industry that Zuckerberg and his cronies would come for us next and we didn’t listen, now look what’s happened. Our freedom of expression is being silenced and fighting back is key.
So that’s my two pence as to why I believe the worlds of politics and pole dancing go hand in hand. What are your thoughts?