[CW: weight loss, eating disorders, rape, assault, mental illness]
The greatest thing about the pole dance community is just how varied and diverse we all are.
While on the outside, pole dance may look like a hobby for tall, skinny white women only, we know from our studios, our Instagrams, our Facebook communities and our real life experiences that it’s far from the truth.
We count amongst our ranks some amazing human beings, all of whom come from different backgrounds, from different countries, from different religions, of various gender expressions and identities, with various body types, with various levels of physical ability, and with varying levels of physical and mental health.
Since we started Sass and Clacks, my goal was always to become a voice for inclusivity, which is why this week I wanted to celebrate all of us.
From the newbie to the veteran, the hobbyist to studio owner, the self-taught to the studio bunnies – we are all pole dancers.
We are all in this community to celebrate our strange, addictive love of using only our skin to grip a metal pole and make funky shapes with our bodies.
We’re here to celebrate the liberation that pole has brought us in our daily lives, and the friends we’ve made along the way.
We’re here because we’re pole dancers.
So here you have it, a by no means definitive list of the best kinds of pole dancers out there.
The newbie at class by themselves, taking the dive into something new with a group of people they don’t know
The newbie who comes to class with a friend for moral support, because there’s nothing more comforting in uncertain situations than having a friend by your side
The newbie who falls in love with pole dance after the first class, and seizes their place in the studio with both hands
The newbie who realises partway through the lesson that pole isn’t for them, but carries on like a champion anyway
The newbie who takes a while to figure out if they like pole or not, but keeps coming to class anyway, and tries their hardest to make sure their decision comes from the heart
The instructors who give their heart and soul to their classes, students and studio to make it feel like home
The instructors who are constantly creating new combos choreographies and games to challenge their students
The instructors who put on showcases to celebrate their students’ talents to the world
The instructors who help students with their choreography and cheer them on when they’re entering competitions
The instructors who spend time after class to talk to students if they’re struggling, are a shoulder to cry on in times of strife, and always have an open inbox if someone needs to talk
The veterans who hop between studios, home training, teaching, workshops and competitions, making us all wonder how they do so much with the same amount of hours we have in our days
The veterans who remember when Superman was an advanced move and are always ready to offer advice or a spot if anyone needs it
The veterans who dance for a living and use their experience to help out newer polers looking to do the same
The veterans who seem to have no ligaments in their body because they’ve trained their flexibility for years, and are willing to teach less-flexy students their secrets
The veterans who bang out a perfect combo, but still take the time to congratulate newer polers on nailing what they’re working on
The dancers who come to class come hell or high water, scout out pole classes wherever they’re going on holiday, and train something nearly every single day
The dancers who come to class to let off steam after a long day, leave their troubles at the door and use their emotions to power their training
The dancers who pole exclusively at the studio and you wonder if they actually sleep there, because you see them all the time
The dancers who only come to pole class when their schedule allows it, and catching up with them makes your whole week
The dancers who you always see with a pair of heels in class – even if it’s not specifically a heels class
The dancers who always have the perfect song for any routine, any style and any vibe you’re feeling
The dancers who solely train fitness or athletic style pole for the #gainz, don’t enjoy the dance element of pole and train for their own strength and confidence
The dancers who train contemporary or lyrical style pole, and perform beautiful routines to heartfelt songs with beautiful lyrics and messages
The dancers who train Russian Exotic and make you wonder how the hell anyone has the muscles to perform such explosive movements – and look sexy while they’re doing it
The dancers who train Stripper Style pole, with routines that flow like water, and make you feel a little bit weird about having a sudden sexual attraction to someone you’ve seen grunting like a wounded animal while they’re trying to invert
The dancers who come to class in their comfiest pair of old shorts and a baggy workout t-shirt, because they’re not comfortable showing as much skin in a room full of strangers unless they need to
The dancers who come to class wearing pole sets that expose all of their major grip points, are beautiful colours, and show off their curves and muscles, because pole has helped them feel confident in their skin
The dancers who try to cover up their ‘flaws’ as much as possible because they don’t feel confident with them on show
The dancers who wear their scars with pride, as regardless of where they came from, they mean you’ve fought battles – and won
The dancers who wear high-waisted shorts because they don’t like exposing their belly, they’re more comfortable for climbing, or just because they’re their favourite style
The dancers who wear thongs for the perfect #sundaybumday shot, and because it makes their ass look great
The dancers who have too many pole outfits to wear all of them, but couldn’t ever let them go
The dancers who saved up to buy their first pole set, which has been worn so many times it feels like home
The dancers who wear heels so often they feel like an extension of themselves, and they carry themselves with poise and grace
The dancers who rarely wear heels and feel like a newborn giraffe trying to do anything in them
The dancers who tried out wearing heels but didn’t enjoy them, and would rather dance with bare feet
The dancers who pole as a hobby to benefit their mind, body and soul
The dancers who make a living out of pole, whether they own studios, run workshops, are photographers, have their own blogs (hi!), run their own clothing line, design custom heels – the list goes on!
The dancers who have their Instagrams public as a means to advertise their business, or simply to show off their talents
The dancers who keep their Instagrams private, to separate real life and pole life where their real life might take offence (for some reason)
The dancers who learn exclusively at home from online lessons, because they’re dedicated as fuck
The dancers who have a pole at home and train on it regularly to work on things outside the studio
The dancers who have a pole at home and swear they’ll train on it ‘tomorrow’
The dancers who don’t, or can’t, have a pole at home so they train in any way they can to benefit their pole training
The dancers who balance their pole time with another full-time sport or hobby
The dancers who train pole dance as their primary sport, but cross train with other disciplines
The dancers who only train pole dance, and don’t cross train when they’re outside the studio
The dancers who dance to lose weight and increase their muscle mass
The dancers who started pole as a means to lose weight, but discovered throughout their journey that they were happy with their body as it is
The dancers who train pole as a strength exercise
The dancers recovering from eating disorders, using pole to reconnect with their bodies
The dancers using pole dance to help them fall in love with exercise again
The dancers using pole dance to recover from addiction
The dancers using pole dance to reclaim their bodies after trauma, assault or rape
The dancers using pole dance to help them with their mental health condition
The dancers using pole dance to help them connect with their changing body during their transition
The dancers using pole dance to rehabilitate their chronic pain condition
The dancers using pole dance to reclaim their body after a long illness or recovery from surgery
The disabled dancers who use wheelchairs or other movement aids while dancing
The neurodivergent dancers who may come across as rude or disrespectful at first, but you quickly learn they just have different ways of showing their passion and excitement
The LGBTQ+ dancers for whom pole dance is an awesome outlet and a safe space from the outside world
The amputee dancers, whether they use prosthetics or not, and the way they adapt pole dance to work for their bodies
The visually impaired dancers who rock the pole, relying more on feeling than visual cues
The hard of hearing dancers who choreograph what they feel in their heart
The dancers with brain injuries who use pole to recover from their injury and reestablish their daily routine
The fat dancers, who understand fat is not a bad word, and use pole dance moves to accentuate their favourite parts of their body
The skinny dancers who have been told their entire lives to “just eat a burger”, who use pole to gain greater confidence with their shape
The dancers who use pole to connect with their sensuality and sexuality in a safe space
The dancers who strip and dance in clubs, making mad bank with their limitless talents
The dancers who cam, using their performance skills to keep the cash flowing in
The dancers who are also sex workers, because sex work is real work
The dancers who understand stripping and sex work isn’t for them, but respect the people who make a living from it
The dancers for whom pole is an important part of their creative process
The pole dance artists, who use pole as their muse and create amazing masterpieces
The pole dance photographers who capture us at our strongest, most vulnerable, happiest, and sexiest moments, and bless us with amazing shots that we treasure forever
The pole personalities who use their platforms to speak about important social issues, not just to share memes
The musical pole dancers who can mix together a competition track in the blink of an eye
The pole dancers who keep their Instagrams on private to protect their professional lives from potential issues
The pole dancers who sing their passion for pole dance loud and proud, and to hell with anyone who would shame them for it
The quiet dancers at the back of the class who just want to get on with their training in peace
The loud dancers who throw themselves into everything in class with enthusiasm and passion
The social dancers who love catching up with their fellow students before and after class
The introverted dancers who might only have one or two close pole buddies, but you can bet your ass they would go to the ends of the earth for them
The welcoming dancers who always make an effort to answer the newbie’s questions and help them feel like they belong – because they do!
The dancers who cheer so loud at every person’s success you can hear it outside the studio
The dancers who help organise social events outside of the studio so everyone can blow off some steam
The dancers who greet each other like long-lost friends when they meet in real life, because they’ve followed each other on Instagram for so long
The dancers who share their Dry Hands (or other grip aid of choice) when a fellow student is lacking
The dancers who always have hairspray, hair ties, deodorant, tampons and pads in their bag or studio for if anyone needs them
The dancers for whom pole dance led to an entire lifestyle transformation
The dancers who call people out on their shit and aren’t afraid to be honest – but are also willing to admit when they’re wrong, and hold themselves accountable
The dancers who offer fellow students a spot to make sure everyone stays safe
The dancers who won’t ever give up – not on their nemesis moves, not on their goals, and not on the people who matter the most to them.
The dancers who share their creativity, passion and excitement with other polers, inspiring them to reach heights they’d only dreamed of
The dancers who, with their blood, sweat, tears and ass-kicking attitudes made pole dancing the amazing sport and community it is today
The dancers for whom pole dance has become a way of life, and despite the bad days, they love it just as much now as when they started
The dancers who are the pillars of our community through all the advice, love and support they throw like confetti over everyone
The dancers who share their love, passion and excitement with the community, and see it returned a thousand fold with heartwarming comments
The dancers with so much love to share with their community that you can always find them on our social media groups, sharing that love and kindness with the world.
A huge shout-out, massive hugs (and/or big puppy grins, depending on your level of comfort with hugs) goes out to all of you wonderful people who stood by me, even though you had every right to kick my ass to the kerb and stop reading my work.
You all are the reason I keep writing and doing what I do on Sass and Clacks.
Sass and Clacks is a blog for the community, and I feel so humbled to know that there’s so many of you out there willing to call people out when they’re not fulfilling that promise, but not just that – that they’re willing to give those people a second chance.
So thanks for all of your feedback, and in particular thanks to the Facebook groups You Know When You’re A Poler When and Celebrating Plus Size Pole Dancers for holding me accountable and showing me just how crappy my last post actually came across.
Thanks to everyone who read my apology and decided to stick with me. I hope I can live up to the promise I made to you all – the promise that I will do better in the future.
Thanks for the private messages and love, which pulled me out of the funk I found myself in.
You’re all amazing people, and I couldn’t be prouder to be your community blog.
Thank you, for everything.