features

Pole dancing picks up momentum for women - and men

41 Comments
By Dan Grunebaum

My pulse quickens as I’m about to meet up with the coordinator of the International Pole Dance Fitness Association to talk about the organization’s upcoming Tokyo championship. And when Ania Przeplasko sits opposite me, it’s clear there is a shapely, toned bod inside her no-nonsense blouse and skirt.

But friendly as Przeplasko may be, she’s all business, and — ahem — so am I. For this is pole dance 2.0. Banish those fantasies of shimmying buttocks and come-hither glances; replace them with images of sixpack abs, women’s lib and celebrity appearances on Oprah.

Building on years of momentum that have seen pole dance repurposed by a new generation of women as a form of exercise and self-expression (global pole fitness classes are up 4,000% since 2003), the IPDFA held its first international championship in Manila last year. The event, says Przeplasko, was transformational.

“At first it was difficult to get sponsors,” she explains. “But after the competition, the image of pole dance — which in Manila was still strongly associated with prostitution — changed drastically. We were surprised by the media response.”

After viewing dozens of performances, judges selected winners from the U.S., Philippines and Japan in three categories: Pole Dance, Pole Art and Pole Fit. Performances are judged on both technical and creative merits, and dancers must also adhere to a strict set of guidelines forbidding them from conversing with the audience or giving “the effect of excessive nudity and explicit content inappropriate for an athletic dance sport.”

Przeplasko herself first got into pole dancing when she arrived here from Poland — hold the puns, please! — to design clothes a decade ago. With a background in gymnastics and a love of fashion, it was a perfect fit. As IPDFA coordinator, she says the decision to hold the second championship in Tokyo was a natural one.

"Tokyo is Tokyo, and it excites the competitors,” she says. “The pole dance trends here are the most artistic, and the studios are the most professional. Japanese girls have a problem with shyness, and pole dancing has helped their confidence. I can see the change.”

The 2009 finals will see performers from Brazil to Moldova converge on Tokyo — and, for the first time, men will be among their ranks.

“As a leisure activity, it appeals more to women than men because some movements are inspired by exotic dance elements which embrace strength in femininity,” Przeplasko explains. “However, the Chinese Pole, which has begun to cross over into mainstream pole dancing, has been dominated for centuries by all-male Chinese state circus troupes. This has led to a rise in men undertaking pole dancing.”

Images of muscled men and bossy women don’t exactly excite the libido of this insecure male, but apparently all is not lost. “While pole dance as an erotic dance is shying away, and increasing as an exercise and art, it doesn’t mean that it is losing its sensuality,” Przeplasko insists, offering comfort. “As a performing art, pole dance is an esthetic dance where the artist makes graceful movements in a sensual style.”

International Pole Dance Fitness Championship Tokyo 2009

International pole dancing event with various dancers competing, this year including men. Dec 4, 7:30 p.m., free. Christon Café

Levels 8 and 9. Oriental Wave building. 5-17-13 Shinjuku Tokyo Japan, for more information: www.polechampionship.com

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


41 Comments
Login to comment

...her feet are dirty...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

...her feet are dirty...

Don't worry! You are not supposed to lick them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have done this! It is actually really fun but incredibly hard to do - you really need to be fit and have a very high power:weight ratio to do it properly. I have a lot of respect for what these women (and men!) can do on the pole.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'd love to do it, but I think I am not fit enough...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm glad JT had the good sense not to post a photo of a male pole dancer here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“However, the Chinese Pole, which has begun to cross over into mainstream pole dancing, has been dominated for centuries by all-male Chinese state circus troupes.

Has anyone seen the CMs for tea(?) a few years back. They had this Chinese(?) guy holding onto a pole, but his body was vertical, and he was going up and down the pole. I thought it was all CG, but apparently it was for real. There was a series of CMs for this product and the guys were doing all sorts of tricks, but this was the most impressive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sorry, i meant 'horizontal', not vertical!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A friend of mine teaches pole dancing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah...you lost me at "- and men."

Taka

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bambigirl - That's the funniest thing I've read in a while. Thanks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BS.

striptease by any other name is still striptease. the first pole dancer i ever saw did exactly the same position as the the one in the photo above... plus many more. and i was fairly certain at that time that even without any prior knowledge of the eastern influence in this "sport," that I could see all the way to China.

The song was "Lucy in the sky with diamonds," her name was Marie-Claire, and there were free shots of peach schnapps going around the room, for a limited time only, ladies and gentlemen. "Free peach schnapps."

Montreal is not the birthplace of the Cirque du Soleil for nothing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my top 10 of jobs I fantasize about having! It may be good exercise but pole dancing will always be erotic because of the pole!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whatever wafts your eggs. Never saw any point in it. Perhaps I need to stare at it for a while?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sydenham...SO?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She is one hot babe who can climb pole anyday....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

evaganda. "so...?"

pole dancing is just striptease, and no amount of after-the-fact effort to legitimize this so-called "sport" can take that away. This is a farcically obvious attempt to make money by gaining mainstream approval of women cheapening themselves under the laughable guise of "empowerment."

In essence, it is saying that all women should take part in this and become strippers, get boob jobs and do lap dances for strangers. those who deny this are either naive, or charlatans.

I don't know which is more pathetic, the women who sell this to other women, or the women that buy into it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Look she's an artiste, not an artist. There's a distinct difference.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wish more women would go to the gym dressed like her. Tipness has a number of "men" who dress that way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sydenham: So the pole dancers that neither strip or do lap dances... fit in where in your world view?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What's the name of the girl in the photo?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I don't know which is more pathetic, the women who sell this to other women, or the women that buy into it."

Or any women not yet involved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"What's the name of the girl in the photo?"

Her name is I'm So Hot, I Can Make This Pole Melt If I Stay On It Too Long.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sarge, is that supposed to be a joke?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hats off to JT for using a photo. Perhaps listening to its readers and good journalistic timing to start with this article. Keep them coming!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Hats off to JT for using a photo"

And of a female pole dancer, no less!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

her name is YUKO. she's IPDFA's 2008 champion. she's also japanese. apparently does capoeira and samba, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you can watch YUKO's championship performance @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFgb6BqSUxE

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i don't want to see men pole dancers. please i feel sick

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This picture will keep the all the men on the train real happy, smiling and dreaming...hmmmm....Lap dancing isn't quite so dangerous...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anomaly Jr.

They're buying the BS.

Here's an example of what happens: An old high school friend recently got into this and posted her video on her Facebook page. Nobody commented directly on her page (of course, that's Facebook for you), however, every single guy I talked to that had seen her video had nothing but negative thoughts about it. Most said something along the lines of it being unbelievably stupid that she thought imitating strippers was "cool," or "sexy," and how it's just more evidence of the dumbing down of what constitutes dance, or sport, or even fitness, for that matter. People buy into any crap these days as long as it's pushed to them through the right messenger, be it websites, magazines, or the boob tube.

Frankly, I agreed with them. It's no less stupid than middle class white men imitating like inner city gangsters. They'll defend themselves by saying they like the "music."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That video... has confirmed everything I thought poledancing was. My image of poledancing= strip club atmosphere. Dimmed lights, disco balls, shitty music, etc. I watched the video and it showed dimmed lights, disco balls... not sure about the music since im at work, but yeah... they may as well call it competitive strip club...ing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too many pole dancers in Japan already.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even the JT picture looks like it was taken in a strip-club....

I wonder were that girl works when not dancing???? Possibly the Black Rose...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That Youtube video was too much...oh yeah it's not like stripping at all (lol) :0

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i dunno....it is seriously great exercise. It's great for core strength arm strength and all round toning. I think i'm in! I'm gonna find me a class (or more likely a DVD)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Tango, was originally done as entertainment at brothels, while you wait...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Tango was once an entertainment for waiting customers at a brothel... No reason why this type of movement can't also evolve... The only limitation is its perception...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unfair competition.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am actually doing a study on the popularity of the pole for women... quite interesting.....

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TDLPQ56

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i started pole dance fitness 7 months ago.for negative thinkers i cannot say anything but primitive brains,or they were just exposed to those kind.there should be a line for that. i dont like stripping but i like the fitness part of pole dancing.so the main thing is how a pole dancer or i can say athlete make it a show that will be respected not degraded.say maybe if u can only dance sleazily and wear bikinis,then it should be for the red district.we wear decent clothing we need the skin only for the pole,and its the best fitness excercise i ever really enjoyed.i tried so many things,all are just boring.pole is fun,so if u want to join me try ur skill.i have a pole here in hibarigaoka,tokyo.try and enjoy it.the name of the place is TSUKI.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In the name of fitness....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites