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2023 PSO Rules and Event Updates

2023 PSO Rules and Event Updates
Dear PSO family,

Each year we take several full days to review wins and challenges from the past year, and plan for updates and improvements for the upcoming year. Our rules, look and feel of the event, and processes are constantly being evaluated so that we stay on top of industry changes as well as competitor, volunteer, judge, and spectator feedback. 

I would like to start by highlighting some wins that we had this year:
  • Reopening most of the live events that we had before covid. This was a huge win for our team after months of being unable to host events. We love seeing your faces in person! 

  • Continued popularity of the virtual competitions - we have met a ton of new polers this way and enjoy seeing everyone's studio and home pole setups! We had thought we would phase these out when we went back to in-person, but the virtuals are going to stick around since there are so many of you who enjoy them.

  • Shipping rates for our event supplies more than doubled during covid, and shipping times became more unreliable. We worked on a solution and ended up buying a PSO cargo van. This van travels to all of our US events along with our wonderful rigger, Chobi. The van has reduced the time that we spent frustrated and scrambling over lost or late boxes. It makes a smoother and less stressful event experience for everyone. Chobi makes our setup and teardown lives infinitely better, and is a wonderful presence to have backstage.

  • Updated Portal systems - our admin team has received a slew of software updates that makes customer service and event planning easier and faster. We heard your feedback about Zenfolio deliveries not being great, and developed our own system to manage higher quality photo and video deliveries.

  • Revamping the photo/video department - we have hired a new photo/video director, higher quality editors, trained a group of experienced and enthusiastic photographers and videographers, and purchased new photo and video cameras. We acknowledge that this department had a lot of issues especially at the beginning of 2022 as we were coming back from covid. I am confident that you will be more satisfied with the staff, images, videos, and processes in 2023.
Here are the improvements that we are implementing for 2023:

  • Changing the category name from Exotic to Heels - This has been a point of debate within our community for some time, and it is time that we make a shift to a new term. We've selected Heels as the replacement for the category name Exotic.

    I believe there may be questions about the category name Heels from dancers who prefer to dance in a sexy/sensual style but prefer not to dance in heels. I can also see the possibility of costume malfunctions at the event or someone forgetting their shoes but still wanting to perform, or people dancing in heel-less shoes. We will not want to deduct points in these situations. So, although slightly counterintuitive, we will specify that heels are welcome but not required in the Heels category.

  • Changing the name of After Dark competitions in Europe to Heels Edition - the term After Dark is an English colloquialism and not as clear for our European competitors. For clarity, we are changing the name of the After Dark (sexy) competitions in Europe only to Heels Edition. We will continue to use the term After Dark to refer to the sexy competitions in the US.
    • Ending Floorwork & Low Flow category June 1 - we have noticed over the past years that the categories of Heels (formerly Exotic) or Dramatic and Floorwork & Low Flow in practice are very similar. We have noticed that we have a fair number of deductions in FLF. In nearly all cases, going higher than allowed was an unintentional breaking of rules. We also dislike the combining of the levels as we feel it makes a less fair playing field for competitors. We combined levels when we began this category in the hopes that it would grow to the point where we could separate the levels out. That hasn't been the case over the years, so we think that moving FLF competitors into the artistic categories is a better move. 

      We recommend that sexy routines head to the Heels category and more contemporary or lyrical routines head to the Dramatic category. Remember that in the artistic judging system, there is no balance of program score. So, you will not be deducted or marked down for not going up the pole in Heels or Dramatic. There will be no rule about how low you have to stay, so there will be less chance for deductions. You will be able to compete with levels separated out, which is also more ideal.

      • At all events after 2023 Nationals - we will be adding a Heels Level 5 division at all competitions that leads to Nationals 2024. So, in 2024 we will have 4 professional finals at Nationals - Championship Women, Championship Men, Artistic (Dramatic and Entertainment Level 5), and Heels (Heels and After Dark Level 5). This addition recognizes our competitors who value sexy/sensual movement and puts them in their own professional-level division, not combined with other categories.
        • At events from January 2023 to August 2023 (before 2023 Nationals), the combination of categories is the same as it has been in the past. Championship Level 5 Women and Men will be at every event and lead to Nationals. Artistic Level 5 (defined for now Dramatic, Entertainment, Heels, and After Dark Level 5) will be at every event and lead to Nationals.

      • Shadowbanned category needs to use both poles - To be consistent with the rest of the categories, we are updating the requirement for the Shadowbanned category to use both poles. 

      • European competitors will begin receiving a separate email newsletter from us that focuses on their upcoming events. We also have started a new European Instagram account @pso.europe that will specifically feature our European competitors. 

      • A note added to the rules about trigger warnings - We are updating the rules to clarify that competitors are welcome to add trigger warnings to their audio tracks if they feel their piece requires one. 
      • Grips that are not allowed are specified as no chalk and no rosin-based grips - Our grip policy has been less clear in the past about what is allowed and not allowed. We are making an effort to be more specific with this wording. This is NOT an exhaustive list of grips that are allowed and not allowed, but by popular request, we will start listing approved and not approved grip products in the rules.

        Allowed - Dry Hands, Dew Point, Tite Grip, Trick-Tac, itac, X-Grip, Pole Mamas
        Not allowed - chalk, Firm Grip

      • Photo/video pricing will be $99 for a package starting on February 28 - our photo/video department has a full-time dedicated director, new equipment, new and more experienced staff, and upgraded delivery systems. To support those changes, we are increasing the package price from $89 to $99, and individual photo or video from $49 to $55. We have had the $49/$89 price point for nearly a decade. If you would like to take advantage of the current pricing before the increase, you are welcome to purchase your packages before February 28.