History of Pole Dancing

Pole dancing continues to gain ground as a form of exercise. However, the majority of people still believe it belongs only to strip clubs for erotic performances.(X-pole)
Where did this connotation come from in the first place? When and how did it start rebranding its purpose from a sensual dance to a form of exercise? We will be briefly discussing its roots and its progress into what we know today as pole dancing.

Various origins

Pole dancing ’s source cannot be attributed to a single location. Different countries have been performing some form of pole dancing as part of a ritual or cultural activity. Although they have some similarities, there’ s no proven correlation relating them to the practices of another region.


Some believe it came from a dance ritual performed by different tribes in Africa. The females who are about to get married had to dance to a wooden pole – a phallic representation – to show how they want their partners to make love to them.


Centuries ago, pole dancing used to be part of performances of male athletes to showcase their strength by balancing on 6-meter poles.


Mallakhamb, a traditional dance in India, consisted acrobatic performances on a wooden pole exhibiting moves similar to what pole dancers execute on the pole nowadays. Mallakhamb came from the word malla, which translates to wrestler, and khamba which signifies a pole.

The dance was not meant to pertain to sexual intercourse in any way. Instead, it was instead performed by male athletes to showcase their acrobatic moves while clinging to a pole.


Back in the 12th century, the Maypole dance was devised to celebrate and ask for a boost in fertility from a pagan god. The ritual then involved a public orgy.
It was later adopted during the Victorian era, removing the orgy part and replacing it with a dance performed by girls circling a pole furnished with flowers.


This form of pole dancing started as part of a circus act. As a side show, women used to dance on the pole using sensual moves which later became popular and was named ‘Hoochie Coochie’. The dance gained more prominence through the years and it later became the central theme of cabaret performances.


As the foundation of Burlesque and cabaret acts, pole dancing became even more popular across the country. It later spread out into Canada and nearby regions, spreading its purpose as a form of entertainment.

The earliest record considered to be the root of pole dancing in modern times was the performance of Belle Jangles back in 1968 at the Mugwumps strip joint. News of the crowd ’s reception of the performance spread like wildfire among nightclubs and red light districts. Night-time businesses started adding it to the list of services they offer.

As part of the show, performers wore costumes and incorporated music to add a sensual effect to their dance routines. However, as the dance continued to rise in popularity among male customers, the dance’s sexual nature became more highlighted amid other aspects.

In the mid 90Хs, Fawnia Mondey, a Canadian pole dancing champion, focused on combining the sensual aspects of pole dancing with sports. She began teaching it to others and even released the first video tutorial about the art of pole dancing. Her contribution to the introduction of pole dancing as a form of dance sport has significantly impacted the community in making people realise that there ’s more to pole dancing than erotic and sensual moves.

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