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Pole dance is a form of performance art which is a combination of dance and gymnastics involving dancing and acrobatics around a vertical pole. It is an increasingly popular form of fitness and dance, practised by many enthusiasts in gyms and in dedicated dance studios. A wide range of amateur and professional competitions are held in many countries around the world.
Before the mid-2000s, pole dance mainly took place in strip clubs. Since then, promoters of pole dance fitness competitions have been trying to change peoples’ perception of pole dance and to promote it as a non-sexual form of dance and acrobatics. Pole dance has furthermore been influenced by Chinese pole, a form of acrobatics that is performed in cabaret, circus and stage performances in a non-erotic environment. Competitive pole dance competitions are by and large performed in a non-prurient fashion which combines a range of dance styles and/or gymnastics.
Pole dance requires significant strength, flexibility and endurance. In a commercial pseudo-erotic setting, however, pole dance is often performed less gymnastically and striptease, Go-Go, and/or lap dancing are the predominant parts of the performance, to the extent that the pole dancer(s) may simply hold the pole or move around it without performing acrobatics. Pole dance proper involves athletic moves such as climbs, spins, and body inversions using the limbs to grip. Upper body and core strength are required to attain proficiency, and rigorous training is necessary.
Pole dancing can be traced back at least eight hundred years. Mallakhamb  is a traditional Indian sport for men, which utilizes principles of endurance and strength using a wooden pole, wider in diameter than a modern standard pole, which has a large wooden ball at the top. Chinese pole, originating in India, also has a male dominated history, using two poles, on which men would perform “gravity defying tricks” as they leapt from pole to pole, at approximately twenty feet in the air.
In the 1920s, traveling circuses and sideshows would utilize pole dancing with a pole in the middle of a tent. Eventually the activity moved from tents to bars, and combined with burlesque dance aspects, but did not move into erotic or strip tease territory until the 1980s, first in Canada, then the United States. 
In the 1990s, Fawnia Mondey Dietrich began teaching pole dancing as an art and fitness. In the last twenty years, pole dancing classes have emerged as a popular form of recreational and competitive sport. K.T. Coates, a famed competitive pole dancer, and the International Pole Dancing Federation, are currently behind a campaign to include competitive pole dance in the Olympics in 2016. Numerous competitions exist, including the World Pole Sport Championship, U.S. Pole Federation Championship, and International Pole Masters Cup Championship. 
The pole 
Standard pole 
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The standard dance pole typically consists of a hollow steel or brass pole with circular cross section, running from floor to ceiling. Affixing at the ceiling gives more stability, but is not always realized, especially at night clubs with higher ceilings or at transportable devices. In the United States, the diameter is usually around 5 cm (2 inches), allowing it to be gripped comfortably with one hand. In Asia, the diameter is usually slightly smaller at 4.5 cm or less.. The most common pole diameters are 50mm, which is often found in strip clubs, and 45mm, which is slightly smaller and can be easier for small or sweaty hands to grip to.
Another common pole is the spinning pole; as its name suggests, it is similar to a standard static dance pole but spins using ball bearings. The purpose of this pole is to create better momentum and higher rates of speed to have a greater dramatic effect.
Home versions are available which may be used for practice or aerobic exercise. Materials of which poles are made include polished stainless steel, chromed steel, brass, powder coating, and titanium coating. Poles can also be made of acrylic glass which allows use of "glow poles" with LED lighting effects. Each material surface has different gripping properties. Polished steel is one of the slickest materials, which provides for a faster, more fluid dance, and is great for spins; brass poles provide more friction, allowing for an easier hold during inverts and poses and creating a slow, sensual dance style. Products such as chalk, "Dry Hands" or "iTac" may be used to help "stick" to the pole.
Poles can be held in place by using threading to brace them against a ceiling joist. There are also poles that do not require construction and can be set up using tension. Stationary, rotating, and switchable versions are available.
Show pole 
There are now poles available for use in clubs that provide visual effects. These poles are made with clear plastics and contain water, glitter, and special reflective materials which stand out when used in conjunction with strobe lighting, as well as lighting hidden in their base joists. However, these poles are not favorable to a dancer wanting to achieve better pole tricks, as they bend slightly and have a tendency to create a friction burn when slid down with any sort of speed.
Pole dance as exercise 
Pole dancing has gained popularity as a form of exercise with increased awareness of the benefits to general strength and fitness. These forms of exercise increases core and general body strength by using the body itself as resistance, while toning the body as a whole. A typical pole dance exercise regimen in class begins with strength training, dance-based moves, squats, push-ups, and sit-ups and gradually works its way up to the spins, climbs and inversions which are the métier of the exercise. Pole dancing is also generally reported by its schools to be empowering for women in terms of building self-confidence.
Pole dancing as an exercise is very similar to Mallakhamb, an Indian men's sport with no erotic component.
A growing number of men are incorporating pole dancing into their fitness programmes. In Australia, the UK and the US, dance studios are beginning to offer classes just for men. And in China, 2007's National Pole Dancing competition was won by a man. Dance instructor Zhang Peng, 23, beat a host of women dancers to the top prize.
Pole dance competitions 
A wide range of amateur and professional competitions are held in many countries around the world. They are strictly non-nude and focus on pole dance as an athletic and artistic form of dance and fitness. The first "Miss Pole Dance World" competition was held in November 2005 in Amsterdam and Elena Gibson from the UK won the championship. The following day Elena was disqualified by the organizer John Benner amongst much controversy and the title went to the runner up Reiko Suemune from Japan.
A group of advocates are even pushing for pole dance to be represented as a test event in the 2012 London Olympics. But because this is a relatively new trend, scoring for competitions is not standardised, while names of the techniques vary among different clubs in different regions.
In Australia, "Miss Pole Dance Australia" was started in 2005. Felix Cane took home the first prize in the latest 2010 (named Miss Pole Dance 2011—for the coming year) competition. The first US Pole Dance Federation (USPDF) Championship was held on March 19, 2009, first place was taken by Jenyne Butterfly. The 2010 winner of "Miss Pole Dance Canada" was Crystal Lai, who went on to win the People's Choice Award at the worlds. World Pole Sport & Fitness 2009 (World Pole Dance), which was held in Jamaica and opened to all nationalities, was won by Australian Felix Cane. World Pole Sport & Fitness 2010 which took place in Switzerland and was opened to all nationalities, was again won by Australian Felix Cane. World Pole Sport & Fitness 2011, which took place in Budapest and was opened to all nationalities and all continents, was won by Alesia Vazmitsel representing Belarus.
Pole dance in the media 
Pole dancing, which has been featured on Desperate Housewives and The View, like other exercise trends has its share of celebrity following. Jennifer Love Hewitt had a short pole stint dancing in an episode of "Ghost Whisperer". Actress Sheila Kelley was so taken with the sport, which she learned whilst preparing for her role in Dancing at the Blue Iguana, that she launched her own pole-based exercise programme.
Pole dance has its own media, the magazines Free Spin, Pole Spin and Vertical.
In the video game Bayonetta the titular character use pole dancing in means to advance to the next area or combat her foes. In the ending credit to the game, she is seen dancing on the pole.  If you get a platinum award you'll hear her say "I should have been a pole dancer".
See also 
- Pol dance requirements Wendiegoneferal.com
- Karen Given (2010-04-02). "Pole Dancing Is Empowering Performance Art". wbur.org.
- "Chinese dreamer swaps army for pole-dancing". BBC News. 2012-01-31.
- dancing: It s not just for strippers anymore ABC News
- Pole dancing for exercise[dead link]
- Cambridge University society offers pole dancing tuition Google.com
- Malinowski, Erik. "The Wince-Inducing Wonder of Mallakhamb, India's Extreme Gymnastics | Playbook". Wired.com. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- "Pole Dancing is a Sport, Not a Strip Club Striptease". Policymic.com. 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- "History - International Pole Championship". Polechampionship.com. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- Stripping Off The Weight, CBS News website, retrieved on 8/20/2007.
- Pole dance as exercise Washingtonian.com
- "Cambridge University society offers pole dancing tuition". AFP. 2010-04-13.
- "Lap Dance Classes". Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- Wong, Amanda (2010-01-27). "Pole dancing for men?". Straitstimes.com. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- Men's pole dancing better than just hanging around Sydney Central
- "Watch out, men on poles". Asiaone.com. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- Rosemary Black (2010-02-23). "Pole dancing could be recognized as a sport and headed to the Olympics". nydailynews.com.
- "Recognize Pole Dancing as New Olympic Sport". Bhsjacket.com. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- Get ready sports fans, pole dancers eye Olympics[dead link]
- "Miss Pole Dance Australia World Pole Dance
- "Miss Pole Dance Australia". Miss Pole Dance Australia. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- "Miss Pole Dance Canada".
- "World Pole Dance Championships Jamaica 2009 - World Pole Sport Fitness". Worldpoledance.com. 2009-04-25. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- "World Pole Fitness Championships 2010 - World Pole Sport Fitness". Worldpoledance.com. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- "World Pole Dance 2011".
- Pole dance in Desperate Housewives and The View Washingtonian.com
- Pole-dancing: Do you have what it takes? Elle Canada
- "Miss USA 2010 Winner a Pole Dancer - Rachel Uchitel Poses for Playboy". National Ledger. May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Pole dance media Jezebel.com
- Pole dance as the main subject on "Pole Dancing Adventures" Pole Dancing Adventures
- Bayonetta pole dancing YouTube.com
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