Saturday, December 14, 2013

You Keep your Rules, I'll Keep my Gluteal Folds

There is an interesting conversation happening at Studio Veena at the moment.  It's about whether or not there should be a dress code in pole studios.  You know. Whether we should start telling women they need to COVER UP a little more when they are in the studio.  I scrolled through the comments, which range from "hell no" to "yes of course" and came up with my own response to the situation.  Read on.

For the love of God. If I wanted to be a part of a community that was going to tell me how to dress right down to the number of centimeters my gluteal folds are permitted to be "exposed", I would have been a damn gymnast. I would have been been an ice skater. I would have been a swimmer. No, see I became a pole dancer because it gave me freedom - freedom to be who I am in the studio and out, freedom to explore my dance through things like dressing up or down, playing with heels, collars, ties, boots, hoodies and whatever else I found myself drawn to in the moment. Pole is subversive. It's subversive because it challenges the traditional ideas of what a woman can and cannot be, should and should not do when it comes to her body. When you have a woman who is smart, articulate and perhaps works as an engineer by day (like Nadia Sharif) and then who puts on high heels, and dances out the sexy in her free time, you have a woman who is actively breaking down stereotypes. Why yes, I can be smart and sexy and be public about both. Why no, dancing in high heels on a pole does not make me a dumb, desperate woman. And yes, I am CHOOSING to dance like this, to move like this, to DRESS like this because it pleases me. And I really don't care what you think. Because what you think is a reflection of your own values and issues. I'm at peace with my choices, and who I am. 
This is what infuriates me the most about these kinds of "rules" about dress and bodies and exposure in pole: Underneath is a thinly veiled expression of shaming. And shame is what I shed when I started pole dancing. The words "appropriate" and "professional" come up a lot in this thread in reference to clothing. I spend my days working in a place where I have to be appropriate and professional. The last thing I want to do is walk into my studio at the end of the day and get the same rigamarole. As far as getting the mainstream to accept pole, I truly don't think pole will go anywhere if we whitewash the sexy out of it. Why should we change in order to be taken more seriously? If you change yourself to be accepted by another person, what happens? You lose the respect of that person and you lose your identity. That same dynamic exists on a macro level as well. Yes, pole is athletic and it gets you fit and it's beautiful and yes it has many faces, including competition.  And yes competitions and studios need rules for safety, among other things. But forcing pole dancers to look or act or present themselves a certain way just so that "other people" will accept pole as "legitimate"  is just squeezing the very soul right out of our pole culture.  Pole is already legitimate. We make it legitimate just by the simple act of dancing.



  1. I completely agree. To a point I think that competitions if they wish should have strict dress code, as long as there are competitions that still exist where we can get sexy and wear our heels. Options are important. But in the's nobodys business. Another issue that came up recently with body policing in the pole world; I heard about a well known studio in the UK that used to have a sign up telling students to shave or not come to class. It's not really ANY single persons goddamn business if I shave my privates or not. As an instructor I would never expect that of my students. It's pretty childish - we're all adults, we all have a naked body and some of those bodies are hairy and some are not. Unfortunately pole shorts slip sometimes. It's a part of the damn job to be a grown up and pretend you didnt see anything. Goddamn.

    1. Shave! Other than face, I prefer to wax, but that's just my choice. Private area as you say is nobody elses business (though I do like limited short and tidy). Normally wear multiple layers so think I have only had one "malfunction" so far. So yes agree!

  2. Thanks! Yes (mainly)… Sexy and what to wear was not what got me into pole originally (working for ETM and it being the next exercise craze did). I now love the chance to be sexy (male?), and wear clothing which in a normal studio class would get you removed (especially as a male). Yes we know that poles have been used in the adult industry, but the routes of most dance is also there. Fitness based, and its required rules to get it into Olympics etc, is fine, and I see that as a separate valid route. The horizontal gluteal crease (gluteal sulcus or gluteal fold) has to be covered in some competitions (and the builders bum/crack or intergluteal cleft, as the length of leg and height of waistband cover this). The former and sometimes the latter I find can be artistic/sexy/attractive and add to the dance and costume choice (along with makeup and shoes) in other forms of pole dance. People misconceptions will not change, even if all pole activity was fitness based, having to stress in conversation that a class is only fitness based should not be necessary, and the way some associate all pole dance as adult industry or that all participants are strippers etc, is their problem, some may be, but nowadays I would thing the majority are doing it for the fitness/fun/friendship etc.

  3. You just took all the thoughts out of my head and wrote them down. I love it and totally agree! Thanks for writing such a intelligent blog to represent pole dancers :)

  4. Preach! The studio is therapy for me, so the fewer the rules, the bettter ;). <3 Dawn