Pole Dancing Will Need a Makeover For the Olympics

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

You may have heard the buzz about certain committees that are petitioning to get pole dance recognized as an Olympic sport. If you are laughing at this idea, then you're probably not familiar with the athletic pole dance competitions that are taking place all over the world. Yes, there is such a thing as athletic pole dance! And no, they do not have tailgate parties for this sport yet. Several years ago, pole dance became the new fitness craze, and husbands all over the U.S. were thrilled. Pole dance has clearly moved beyond strip clubs and is moving on to more prestigious things.

I recently spoke with Collette Kakuk, who is the founder of the Pole Fitness Association -- one of several organizations petitioning to get pole dance in the Olympics. A realistic goal for pole dance to be recognized is for the 2028 Olympics, but she is encouraging everyone to get on board now. And it looks like a lot of people are paying attention. The Pole Fitness Association's petition currently has signatures from supporters all over the world including Australia, Germany and the UK -- to name a few.

However, in order for this activity to be taken seriously by the Olympics committee, pole dance will need a significant make over. Or make-under depending on how you look at it. The pole dance community is in its infant stages of the quest to the Olympics, but one thing is clear according to Kakuk, and that is the stigma associated with pole dance needs to change.

Everyone is aware that pole dance and sexuality go hand in hand. In fact, I find it next to impossible to separate the two. Sure, you can put a pole dancer in spandex shorts and a spots bra, but when she is performing a vertical over-split, the word 'conservative' does not come to mind. I personally am a bit reluctant to get behind the idea of toning down the image of pole dance because I find that the raciness is half the fun.

It seems though that the sterilization of pole dancing's image would be mostly present when associated with the Olympics, and not necessarily for all of pole dance as we know it. Some of the things that would change for pole dance -- the Olympic sport -- would be:

  • First, in the context of the Olympics, pole dance would be referred to as pole sport.
  • Potential competitors can save their stripper stilettos for the Olympic after-party because Olympic pole competitors will probably compete barefoot. Stilettos are considered too risqué.
  • And definitely no g-strings! Figure skating inspired costumes might be acceptable though.
  • Potential competitors will also not be allowed to gyrate their hips or try to tempt the judges in any way. Which leads me to believe that rolling around on the floor could get a girl shamefully disqualified.
  • Men's division? Yes!
  • Under 18 division? Maybe. It is vertical gymnastics after all.

In addition to transitioning pole dance into pole sport, the Pole Fitness Association is working with several pole dance federations and fitness studios worldwide to create common terminology for pole maneuvers, the criteria required of a pole sport competitor, and so on. The Pole Fitness Association and other international pole dance organizations certainly have a long road ahead of them in their mission to have pole dance recognized as an Olympic sport. The current pro pole dancers seem to already have the strength, flexibility and stamina equivalent to Olympic gymnasts and rhythmic dancers, so pole dance in the Olympics is a no-brainer in my opinion. I just hope there will be a lenient policy regarding tattoos, or the pole sport competitor population may dramatically decrease!

If you want to join this cause and sign the petition for pole dance to be recognized as an Olympic sport, click here