Spinning the stigma of pole on its head

How an hour of pole dance changed the views of our writers

multiple writers
23rd October 2023
Image credit: Hannah Thomas
Having joined Newcastle Pole and Aerial Club last year, I’ve quickly gotten heavily involved. But I've noticed a massive issue with misinformation - pole is dirty, it's not a real sport, anyone who does pole is a stripper. While it has its roots in sex work, it has evolved into such a multifaceted sport. So when this year’s tasters rolled around, I asked some of my fellow writers if they would like to give pole a go. 

Arthur Ferridge

Going into my first pole dancing lesson, I had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t gauge how difficult it would be, what the lesson might involve, or how good I might be at it. With a sport as highly stigmatized as pole dancing, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in that mindset. With all these questions swirling, I felt that all I could do was go in with an open mind and no expectations, take it on the fly and see how it goes. 

All told, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. I found that the learning curve was not as steep as I had expected it to be. The environment felt relaxing and welcoming, which massively detracted from the daunting sensation of trying a new sport for the first time. Combine that with experienced and patient coaches, the lesson made for a great experience. 

When I first came to uni, I can’t honestly say that I ever planned on taking a pole dancing lesson, but if you’re looking to get out of your comfort zone and learn a new skill, I’d definitely recommend trying your hand at Pole and Aerial. 

With all these questions swirling, I felt that all I could do was go in with an open mind and no expectations

Mitchell Hall

As a man on the larger side, I've never looked at the grace and control of pole fitness and thought "Yeah, I can do that, I should give it a go." How I ever ended up at a pole taster I'm still not entirely sure, but I can say that it is somehow both harder than I could have imagined yet far more achievable than I thought it might be. That sounds contradictory, but it's true - in just an hour I found myself on the edge of being able to invert myself and managing a few tricks, but hurting like mad. It took my core about a week to recover, but like any exercise that is something that would improve with practice and repetition. 

Jodie Steer

Pole is a sport that has many misconceptions – some of which I have to admit that I bought into before I tried it for myself. After just one session, I can safely say I am in awe of the strength, discipline, and fearlessness that it takes to do pole. The talent shown by the more experienced members of the club when demonstrating moves and positions that quite literally seem to defy all rationality of the capability of the human body was amazing to watch. I was unbelievably nervous leading up to the session – despite being an ex-dancer and gymnast, the thought of trusting a wobbling pole and a few crash mats to save me from limping home was a daunting one, especially as a plus-sized person. 

I am in awe of the strength, discipline, and fearlessness that it takes to do pole.

However, on completing the taster session I’m so pleased to conclude that pole is an empowering sport that pushes you to trust in your body to support you and to believe in yourself. The instructors made me feel so comfortable and safe the whole time I was there, encouraging me to try things that I would never have dreamed I could do. Overall I couldn’t recommend giving pole a try enough, regardless of your shape, size, or experience. And, even with the aching muscles for a few days after the session, I’m looking forward to my next pole experience, feeling confident and excited to see just how much I can do.

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