Where Did Pole Dancing Really Come From?

Pole dancing
Image via AllaSerebrina/depositphotos

Pole dancing is a sport that’s been gaining increasing popularity over the past decade or two. It may have been considered taboo in the past, but today, telling someone you’re on your way to pole dancing class is completely socially acceptable (and even gives you points for coolness). While many people assume that pole dancing originated in adult clubs, the truth is that the origins of pole dancing are purely athletic.

Where Pole Dancing Actually Started

People started using poles for athletic purposes about 800 (!) years ago in India. They did it as part of a traditional Indian sport called mallakhamb, using a wooden pole to perform endurance and strength exercises. The pole then made its way from India to China, where it was used in circus acts and acrobatics. Fun fact: in both cases, it was men who did the pole dancing.

It was only in the late 19th century that the sensual variation of pole dancing done by female belly dancers started being a thing in the US. Travelling belly-dancing shows arrived at the country and became popular during the first part of the 20th century. This form of pole dancing is most likely what led the way to adult clubs adopting pole dancing in the 80s.

Luckily, since the early 2000s, pole dancing has started coming back to the sports arena, where it belongs. An increasing number of pole dance studios started opening both in the US and in other countries; and in 2017, pole dancing was finally recognized as a professional sport.

People practicing pole dance can attest to what a challenging sport it really is. Other than providing great cardio exercise, it works on the whole body, strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility.

So, what are you still doing here? Go check out the nearest pole dance studio.