When Pole and Pop Culture Meet

Joel & Pole

This is the second of my little pole dance series of posts (the first one is here). Since the first post, things blew UP in the pole world because three dancers appeared on The Voice Australia as back up dancers for a guy named Frank  Lakoudis. As they ducked and dived around the poles, weaving their magic, Twitter erupted.

 

Because I am a geek the coolest, I love watching shows alongside social media: getting involved in the discussion, seeing the immediate public reaction. And public opinion did not like these dancers being on family tv. I’m sure that Joel Madden calling them ‘stripper gymnasts’ really improved the public mood.

So. I get that parents might be surprised at seeing Michelle Shimmy and her gang on family television, especially because of the association pole dancing has with the sex industry. On the other side of the coin we have dancers standing up for something they love, who are getting tired of people making snap judgements on something which is moving away from it’s association with the sex industry. You can see the video of the performance here. Check it out and see what side you fall on!

Michelle

I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath about what I think, and I bet you can’t predict what side of the coin I’m on. 😉 Well, here are my two cents:

  • If you look at the video, they’re not actually stripping. They’re not even dancing, really. There’s no twerking, booty-popping, or slut-dropping. It’s more a series of gymnastics and acrobatics on a pole.
  • The outfits they wore were chosen by The Voice Australia, and were leotards rather than anything seductive.
  • Any kids watching might not have picked up on all the sexual associations with pole dancing based on that performance. But they could well have picked up on the uproar and reaction, which sends slightly different but still important message to them about how we view dance, pop, women and television.

 

Ok, so maybe that was three cents. Taking my own bias into consideration, I think that when presented with something that challenges you, it’s helpful not to jump to the first reaction/conclusion, but to actually consider what’s in front of you. Read what Michelle Shimmy, whose classes I’ve attended, has to say about it.

 

Which is a more legitimate form of dance?

Which is a more legitimate form of dance? Does the addition of a pole really make this inappropriate?

I said in the last pole post that I know pole is not to everyone’s taste. But calling these dancers strippers is not helpful or necessarily constructive, and suggests that the performance was probably viewed through the veil of already-established opinion rather than with an open mind. There is definitely a sexy side to pole dance, which would not be appropriate for family television, but I don’t think that what we saw on The Voice Australia was it.

 

Anyway, I guess the point is that it should be ok for one thing to evolve into something else. Part of that process is to rock the boat of what’s currently accepted, and feeling threatened by something’s sexual associations has been going on for centuries. But it would be nice for the dancers to be judged on their own merit in that performance, and whether what they actually did was appropriate. Otherwise how can any art form develop and evolve?  Now we look back and laugh at people’s contempt for Elvis and his controversial dance moves, but at the time they were considered a threat to America’s security (no joke. Check out his Wikipedia page). And remember Rose from Downton Abbey, causing Mary all sorts of grief when when she insisted on frequenting a jazz cafe? My how times change.

 

Ellie B

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