The term pole dance dates back only about a decade and in that time, it has been widely used to describe the dancing of young college people (though it didn’t go quite that far, either). The earliest mention I could find dates from 1992: “Pole dancing is a lot like the ballet but with young men.” According to this, it originated as a dance that is “a combination of ballet and other types of dance” and it was later expanded further. I found a 1998 newspaper article by an ABC reporter who used the term as well as a 1995 article by the Dallas Morning News about the first event in Dallas, which included a number of pole dancing companies organized by the Dallas Dance Society.
There were other publications at the time, including the New York Times Magazine and the Boston Red Sox Magazine. And a few decades later, here in Dallas, I’m sure there used to be a monthly magazine called The New Frontier. The article, which refers to pole dancing as an “old, popular dance”, is published in the July 1995 issue of The New Frontier, a monthly Texas-based magazine:
To most people that don’t know it, the phrase “pole dancing” is used as an insult more often than it is used to refer to a dance. So many dancers come up to me in bars, restaurants and discos and ask for a “pole dance.” “The term,” says J.P. “Jack” Lee of Dallas Dance, “is more like a term of endearment. We’re just trying to get a sense of what it was like to be young and free.”
In a subsequent online search, I found this article from a Dallas Magazine article by Gary Nance, which includes quotes from a pole dancer from San Antonio. He says he has “stuck” it with his brother for more than a decade, and when he thinks about it now, he still finds it odd that the dance wasn’t more widespread in the area. “All of our generation has seen this kind of dancing everywhere but here,” he adds. “The dancing was so prevalent during my childhood.”
Is pole dancing an authentic version of ballet, or is it just a variation?
Some people are quick to point out that the dance looks very much like classical ballet, especially in the hip flexing movement. But there are some key differences. If nothing else, it’s really easy to see which way the hips are flexing when you watch it a few times.
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