Give us a jungle gym, a lamppost, a street sign, or even a train and we are in pole paradise. Pole dancing has moved out of strip clubs, into dedicated studios and has spilled over onto the streets. The city has become our playground.
Today we explore the origins of street pole dancing, or the more acrobatic style of pole. A little known fact is that ancient Chinese and Indians have been pushing the boundaries of acrobatic pole for thousands of years. The traditional Indian sport of Mallakhamb (meaning “man of power” or “Gymnastics pole”) requires the performer to turn, twist, stretch and balance on a wooden pole, wider in diameter than a modern standard pole.
It isn’t pole dancing as we have come to know it, but it’s intense, jaw-dropping routines utilising similar principles of endurance and strength. Whilst pole is practiced today by both men and women alike, Mallakhamb remains a very male dominated environment in which women do not participate. Check out Mallakhamb Acrobats Vijay Ashok Bhojane and Rajesh Amrale as they perform on a wooden pole in the lead up to the Sydney, Parramasala festival in 2013 here.
Pole dance has furthermore been influenced by Chinese pole.
This form of acrobatics is most notably performed in the circus, with performers executing “gravity defying tricks” leaping from pole to pole, at approximately twenty feet in the air, similar to that of Cirque Du Soleil.
Pole dance is becoming an increasingly popular sport across the globe, with people from all walks of life seeing it as a means to improve their strength and fitness, but it still has a long way to go before it is taken seriously for the astounding art form that it is. Taking this incredible combination of acrobatics, gymnastics and fitness to the streets can help dispel any negative connotations about pole dancing. It is an easy forum for us to showcase to the public the strength, flexibility, balance and core control required to perform pole tricks.
And it’s not just us that love street pole, people have taken to it across the world to showcase their talents in places ranging from the streets of Mexico City, Poland, Argentina and Hong Kong to the London underground, creating a stream of double-takes and admiration from the general public. Who would have thought that everyday street fixtures could have so much joy to offer?