Late Spring 2009 Pole Dancing Competitions - Olympic Sport?
There is a whole wold of organized gymnastic and athletic competition that has taken place over the last full month and few people really are aware of it taking place.
Sure, there was a little write up in SI.com, but nothing really on a mainstream media scale that would bring serious attention to the art and athletic competition and the serious nature on which the progressive structure (regionals, nationals, then international) of the competition takes in which a world champion is decided.
The competition is Pole Dancing. Ok, so the art and athletic form got its start as a method by which female entertainers, who took off their clothes, could separate men from their money.
In the United States, there is a formal association set up to bring standards and an official program of competition to the process named the US Pole Dance Federation or USPDF.
2009 US Pole Dance Federation Competition
2009 Pole Dance World Finals Competition Winner
This excerpted and edited from an internet PDF version of SI.com -
Monday March 16, 2009 10:07AM; Updated: Monday March 16, 2009 3:12PM
By Jacob E. Osterhout
While most sports fans eagerly awaited the NCAA Tournament bracket on Sunday, I headed over to the Bleeker Street Theatre in New York City for a very different sort of Selection Sunday.
The US Pole Dance Federation, better known to acronym lovers as the USPDF, was hosting the first annual US Pole Dance Championship. Twelve female contestants, chosen from more than 50 applicants, would be competing for the honor of representing the United States at Miss Pole Dance Australia 2009 and for a spot on the cover of next month's Pole2Pole Magazine.
The dress code from the USPDF rulebook states, "No nudity, no G-strings or thongs. Violation of this requirement leads to immediate disqualification."
As contestant Denise Brown a happily married mother of two from Tennessee said, "We are not strippers and it is not a stripper pole unless someone is taking off their clothes. Sure, a form of pole dancing is exotic, but that's not all there is to it. Pole dancing is really about fitness, athleticism and artistic design."
But while pole dancing has certainly gone from erotic to aerobic, not all the sensuality has been lost. At the championship, five-inch heels, belly-button rings and tattoos were just as prevalent as washboard abs, well-toned biceps and calves the size of peaches.
According to competition rules, contestants compete in two rounds: a 60-90 second compulsory round with required elements, and a 3-5 minute optional round in which competitors choreograph their own routine. A panel of three judges then selects the winner based on execution, transition, originality, difficulty, flexibility, and sex appeal.
The favorite entering Sunday's championship, at least according to the contestants, seemed to be Jenyne Butterfly, a petite blonde from Eastern Washington. Despite her diminutive stature, Butterfly had already won pole dance competitions across the nation, including the highly regarded Pole-a-palooza in Las Vegas, which she has won three years in a row.
But catching a butterfly is a tricky task. The favorite took the stage as the night's second to last performance and showed why she truly is "The Pole Queen." Dressed in a white two-piece outfit and veil, Butterfly lived up to her name. She defied gravity. At times, one arm supported the entire weight of her outstretched body. Her moves were elegant, her transitions seamless. By the time Butterfly capped off her performance with her signature "flag move" -- think of her as the flag on a flagpole -- the capacity crowd was on its feet.
And while the judges took 10 minutes to give the appearance of a formal debate, everyone knew the winner had already been decided. Jenyne Butterfly was the 2009 US Pole Dance Champion.
"It feels really good," Butterfly said afterwords as the crowd streamed out the theater. "I've never won a medal for pole dancing before. Normally, they just hand me an envelope of money."
And with a slight smile, the champ sauntered away from the stage to find her boyfriend and grab a bite to eat.
After all, a girl can work up quite an appetite winning a national championship.
Can you see this as an Olympic event? The competitors would have to wear a unitard or the like.
My wife just asked me ... What?! Did you write about ... Pole Dancing?
As I told her, this was actually and interesting topic given the fact that the competitors actually take the performance as a serious enterprise and athletic art expression.
She chilled after she saw the video examples. I guess one needs the 6" heels just to get a "leg-up" as it were - sorry, couldn't resist.