Preserving the Inclusive Nature of Pole
We’d like to shine a spotlight on one of our core values - You can sit with us. We believe in the future of the pole community to be open to dancers inclusive of their race, sex, gender identity, and additional identities. For this reason, we have created guidelines to preserve the inclusive nature of pole through responsible artistry and integrity.
A responsible artist:
Is Thoughtful - Considers and carefully crafts the message that they want to send to the audience. Consider why you want to tell this story and what drives this message. Does it play on a stereotype of an identity of which you do not possess?
Seeks Clarity - Consults others who come from different viewpoints or backgrounds to see if their message is clear. Seeks to learn from others to design the most effective message possible. This helps make sure you are telling the correct story - and find any unintentional messages that are harmful to other people.
Is Original - Creates original work, or uses the work of others only with permission.
Takes Ownership - Accepting the praise, criticism, and/or discussion that can come along with your work.
I challenge you, when you put your piece together, ask yourself, what am I saying? How might others who I may be portraying in my work perceive what I am saying? Am I willing to stand behind my message 110%?
A great place to start if you want to be sensitive to the issues of identities different from your own is to be considerate when working with themes or characters around the following identities. These are classes that the US government protects based on past history of discrimination.
Religion or creed.
National origin or ancestry.
Physical or mental disability.
Pole Sport Organization encourages you to use your artistic freedom to tell a story while also being respectful of the pole community and world at large.
Pieces about each of these identities can be super powerful and wonderful. Proceed with compassion and a desire to understand. If it is not an identity you yourself hold, consider what people who do would think about your message.
Do something controversial. Do it! Be bold! Make people talk. Push boundaries. Create discussion. Just be aware of what you're doing and why.
*Side note: There are many of us in this community who feel that there should be more groups added to this protected class list; this is not an exhaustive list of what you should watch out for, only that it's a good starting point for awareness.*
And, if you see someone in your studio training for competition who might not be as thoughtful or just got a little over the top enthusiastic and went in the wrong direction... Try having a quick conversation with them. A good sentence for that, without being accusatory, is "have you considered....?".
They might learn something and you can help spread our value of inclusion.
P.S. Huge and special thanks to Crystal Belcher for coining the term “responsible artistry”, Kate E. Gaga for text and comments, Shay Jones for feedback, Alloy Images for sanity checks, and many of my Facebook friends for suggesting the resources below.
P.P.S. If you would like to reach out to groups in our community to get feedback, some of the following resources exist as Facebook groups:
Black Girls Pole
Queer Pole London
Men on the Pole
AIP: Autoimmune Polers
50+ Pole Gals
Grand Masters of Pole
Curvy Girls Pole
Celebrating Plus Size Pole Dancers