The art of poll dancing originated with the Indian sport of mallakhamb.  This was the act of using a wooden pole to perform feats of strength. 

In the 1920’s, pole dancing utilized traveling circuses in the middle of a tent.  This eventually became part of burlesques. 

The sport of pole dancing has emerged as a major form of competition since the 1980’s in the US and Canada.  There are a number of organizations that sponsor pole dancing including the World Pole Sport Championship, U.S. Pole Federation Championship, and the International Pole Masters Cup Championship. A campaign currently exists to have pole dancing included in the Olympics in 2016. 

Pole dancing competitions are separated into competitions such as Championship which involves technical exhibitions and artistic which is more focused on the interpretation of a piece of music.  There are also group competitions and freestyle events. 

Dancers must be truthful about their ability level.  Competitors can be disqualified for something known as “sandbagging,” which means declaring their experience as a dancer to be lower than it actually is.  Attire for competitions is different than that found in traditional clubs. 

Bernadette Barton’s work is a fascinating example of the way that attitudes towards women in strip clubs have changed but remained the same.  She details her experiences visiting many clubs in researching her book and one of the anecdotes she conveys is that she was prevented from entering a lounge as a woman alone.  When she queried the bouncer as to the reason for the club’s policy prohibited women, she was told that the condition of the men in the club made it difficult for the staff to guarantee her safety. 

She had found that the very idea of excluding women and distinguishing “good girls” on the outside and “bad girls” inside increased the sense of control that these institutions appear to in catering exclusively to male fantasies of control.  She chronicles many difficulties that dancers have including the challenge of finding housing and of making friends not involved in the industry. 

                                           People’s condescension and their insulting language
                                           illustrates how poorly people perceive women who
                                           work in the sex industry, how objectified sex workers
                                           are, how easily a three-dimensional person with
                                           dreams and kids and hobbies is dismissed.”
Other books such as the Art of Exotic Dancing for everyday women detail the joys of sensuality that many women find in the art.  Barton finds that many women like the attention and the compliments that they receive.  They say that stripping makes them feel beautiful.  Aside from simply a way to spice up a married sex life, such sources reveal that the art is something that can afford housewives the sense of adventure when not only a one’s sex life has become routine.