It will be great for TV ratings, that’s for sure. A group of pole dancing advocates wants the activity, more commonly associated with dim nightclubs, recognized as an Olympic sport. The Pole Fitness Association and other pole dancing advocacy groups are circulating petitions to have vertical dance, which they compare to gymnastics, added to the London 2012 lineup.
Petitioning the Olympic Committee isn’t a futile effort. Women’s boxing petitioned the committee and will debut as an official sport in 2012. Pole fitness, or vertical dancing — as advocates prefer to call it — is incredibly athletic. Exercise classes became popular over the last decade, with more than 500 pole dancing fitness studios across the U.S., according to the AFP. Amateur pole-dancing enthusiasts now participate in national and international championships.
But one big obstacle is standing in the way of the pole fitness bid: its notorious past. Pole dancing advocates want to be taken seriously, but to achieve legitimacy and make an R-rated activity PG for national broadcast, they’re trying to tone down the sexy. A Facebook inquiry on the Pole Fitness Association of America’s page recently put out a call for “good positive role models for the pole dance community” for a PSA that they play to broadcast nationally.
At the same time, costumes at the recent California Pole Dance Championships still include hotpants, pigtails, and Lucite heels. Gymnastics and figure skating costumes may be skimpy, but they’re practically Amish in comparison.
Cheerleading is another sport applying for Olympic recognition that is having trouble shaking off its Hollywood-fueled reputation as an activity for popular high school girls who want to date the quarterback. Like pole fitness, cheerleaders must be top-notch gymnasts, dancers and weightlifters. The International Cheer Union has submitted a request for recognition to the Olympic Committee, and recently received a positive recommendation from the SportAccord Council, a step closer to recognition.
Pole fitness, with a petition that has about 6,400 signatures, has further to go. What do you think: Is pole dancing an art, a sport, or strictly a sexy pastime?