Contrary to popular belief, pole dancing doesn’t have its origins in Las Vegas.
In fact, pole dancing started on the opposite side of the globe, as did most of our ceremonial dance traditions. Although the history of pole dancing is often contested, it is readily agreed that the sport first appeared in China in the 12th century. During this time, circus professionals would use a pole to perform in costume.
India also has a long history of pole tradition. Surprisingly, the sport there was created as a way for wrestlers to train. This form is called Mallakhamba. Because it’s such a great way to develop speed, reflexes, concentration and coordination, championships are still held in 14 Indian states today. The earliest mention of Mallakhamba appeared in the 12th century. In the mid-1900s, the Gymnastics Federation of India breathed new life into the game when it recognized the sport and included it in subsequent Championships. What’s more is the fact that men dominate this sport in India. Who would have guessed!
Pole dancing didn’t enter the ‘Western’ world until the 1920s. It was at that time that women in traveling fairs would use the poles of the tents to entertain crowds. Most people these days are familiar with the version of pole that evolved from that into mainstream ideas of pole dancing. However, pole fitness in the west is not limited to late night clubs and raunchy tv shows. Instead, pole fitness is now a sport that’s lobbying for a seat at the table in the Olympics – and it is now very near to making this breakthrough. By its practitioners and its fans alike, pole fitness is currently viewed as a challenging alternative (or a complimentary addition!) to sports like gymnastics and competitive dance.
So, why is this important? At Lotus, we specifically teach ‘pole fitness’ which is our rendition on the historical types of pole practiced. Just as each of the versions of pole listed above are different from each other, so is the pole fitness we teach at the studio. This is not so much to distance ourselves from the sexualized sport of pole dancing as it is to make it clear that our training style is different to others that are taught on island and around the world.
For us, pole fitness is just another form of the aerial arts. It’s a beautiful sport and we’re excited to be a part of its evolution and see where it goes next!
Interested in joining our pole journey? Join us for Pole Immersion Week. Details below.