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Pole Dancing Gets Its Own Awards Show Hosted In Los Angeles

natasha wang
Natasha Wang

Awards given out will include Female Performer of the Year, Male Performer of the Year, Most Photogenic, Most Physically Fit and Most Inspirational.

In the last few years, the popularity of pole dancing has grown in leaps and bounds, not to mention bumps and grinds.

There are competitions all over the world where women (and men) can show off their talents at slithering and sliding around a brass pole.

Now, pole dancing is getting its own version of the Oscars, Grammy or Emmy Awards.

The first ever Pole World News Awards  will shimmy into history on March 21 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, livestreaming at starting at 6 p.m., PT.

In order to attract mainstream audiences, the ceremony is being hosted by Kym Johnson, best known for her appearances on "Dancing With The Stars."

Event co-founder Eileen Shoals sees the awards as a way to honor great pole dancers and what they've done to promote the sport as an activity for all ages and genders.

"We're still young and growing, so we want to honor performers who are popular and inspirational," she told The Huffington Post. "Seven, eight years ago, the sport was female-dominated, but guys have really come into their own."

greta pontarelli
Greta Pontarelli

Nominee Greta Pontarelli  is a good example of how pole dancing has aroused interest beyond strip clubs.

Pontarelli is 63, but is a top contender in both the Female Performer of the Year category as well as Most Inspirational. She is amazed by the nominations, considering she only started pole dancing four years ago.

Even more amazing: She claims she was unaware of pole dancing's strip club roots until shortly before she took up the activity.

"I never knew about stripper poles until just before I started doing this," Pontarelli told HuffPost.


A former USA Gymnastics champion, Pontarelli spent her life doing gymnastics and dancing, but gave up "extreme sports" for a while. She started pole dancing to ward off osteoporosis.

Pontarelli hopes the awards show can help inspire other seniors to take up pole dancing.

"I want to cast this net broader," she said. "So many people can benefit from it. I hope older people see it as a creative challenge."


Another question is spinning around the pole dancing community: Is it a sport or an art?

Some organizations, like the International Pole Sports Federation , see pole dancing as a sport that should be scored like figure skating or gymnastics and be in the Olympics 

Others, like Wendy Traskos, co-founder of the US Pole Dance Federation , believe pole dancing is more akin to jazz and ballet.


Natasha Wang, the 2011 US Pole Dance champion, believes the Pole World News Awards represents a new level of respectability for pole dancing, but admits there is still work to be done.

"Even after I won the Pole Dancing Championship, people were asking, 'Where is the stripping?'" said Wang, who is nominated for Female Performer of the Year and will perform at the ceremony. "But there have been changes. If you compare what people are doing physically now compared to a few years ago, it's astronomical."

Sarah Romanowsky

While pole dancers argue over whether it should be a sport or an art form, some practitioners want to return to the days when pole dancing was performed in sleazy strip clubs.

"There is a school of people who are more nostalgic for the days of high heels and stripping," Wang said. "When I was in Australia recently, one of the competitions included a 'Dance Filthy' category."

Shoals, who is a licensed psychotherapist, sees pole dancing as much more than sexual expression. She sometimes recommends it to patients who've suffered abuse of some kind.

"It's a sensual art form, and it's a great way for women to recapture their female power," she said. "I recommend it to women who are ready to take their power back. The thing about pole dancing is that it's about the person doing the dance, not the people who are watching it."

cleo the hurricaneCleo The Hurricane

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Comment by Baku on March 22, 2014 at 9:46pm

Baddest Cats out there using poles/bars to do exercises are BROTHAS in the NYC Hood. There is a Cat who invented a move called the "SuperMan" dude can hold himself out horizontally while holding onto a bar. Also see the BARTENDAZ and their leader GIANT. BAD!!!!!!!!!

Comment by GospelPan on March 21, 2014 at 9:32pm
Comment by ESTHER HART on March 21, 2014 at 7:54pm

@GospelPan, lol ... you have two eyes ... and they would follow me on the pole and even just walking!  ;-)

Comment by GospelPan on March 21, 2014 at 6:43pm
@ESTHER, I know some dudes that wanna sign up for a class like that, but they would be observers more than
Comment by Rhasson Bey on March 21, 2014 at 6:04pm
Pay attention. Read the article.or read it again. It's not a stripper competition. POLE DANCING
Comment by Big Woman on March 21, 2014 at 5:20pm
These people are athletes/artists and are taking it to another level! Pole dancing is fun and a great workout. God bless them.
Comment by ESTHER HART on March 21, 2014 at 5:18pm

Pole dancing is a performance art and has historically been associated with strip clubs.  Now it has grown in popularity as a form of fitness and entertainment, competitions.  I'm thinking a bout taking a class myself!  Great for flexibility and to keep those joints moving.

Comment by Cee Gee on March 21, 2014 at 2:34pm

LOL.....there's an app for that!

Comment by GospelPan on March 21, 2014 at 1:46pm

oh boy!

Comment by mr1stroke on March 21, 2014 at 1:15pm

thats right why not give strippers their own shows since everybody has one, after all they are role model too, now welcome to the new world, educate your kids and discipline your kids otherwise be very well ready for the future pole dancing stars

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