The history of Pole Dance


When we speak about Pole Dance, many people immediately think of the sensual dance of nightclubs. Right, this is a very common variant of this dance, but today it is also widespread as a form of art or sport. The pole dance we know today has its origins in various cultures, such as Chinese and Indian, but is also influenced by the circus acrobats and the different sensual dances.

The history of Chinese Pole began in the 12th century when the circus acrobats performed their exercises on vertical bars between 3 and 9 meters high. The performances were characterized especially by a lot of strength exercises, and we still use some of them, such as the “flag” and various jumps and acrobatics. Even today we can see this type of presentation in the “Cirque du Soleil”, often performed by various artists together and on several poles.


The Mallakhamb is an Indian tradition practiced for over 800 years. This is a type of competition, in which a wooden post with a diameter of 55 cm at the base and 35 cm at the top is used , sometimes covered with castor oil to avoid friction. A common practice in this discipline is running up the pole and climb it with a jump. This activity was used to develop strength, reflex, concentration and coordination. Today there are still Mallakhamb championships, in which 14 Indian states are involved. It is a purely masculine sport, as women do not participate in those events.


In the Western world, the pole dance has become a way of training, called pole dance fitness. It is a sport practiced by men and women of all ages. Very often, in this form of pole dance, exotic dance elements are incorporated, which also have ancient origins. The striptease goes back to a Sumerian myth, according to which the goddess of love, Inanna, took off a piece of her clothing or jewelry while dancing in each of the seven gates that she passed on her way to find her lover Damouz.

As more recent influences of exotic dance, we could mention the Moulin Rouge in Paris, the belly dance of the Middle East and Latin dances such as Rumba and Tango.


It is said that pole dance itself originates from traveling fairs during the American Depression in the 1920s, where a group of dancers entertained crowds, using the poles that held up their tents and performing provocative hip movements. They became known as dancers of “Hoochie Coochie”.

What we know today as Pole Dance, it is the fusion of all these traditions and ancient dances incorporating acrobatics of the Chinese Pole, strength exercises and body control as in Hindu culture, and the typically sensual Burlesque movements.