By Tira Mercadante | | Contributing Writer

What immediately comes to mind when you hear “pole dancing?” Scantily clad women in a dark-lit club? Ben’s face in the air and on the ground? 

Everyone has preconceived notions on this topic, whether or not they are aware of it.  When brought into conversation, most may think of pole dancing as women stripping on stages and elevated surfaces alike, while men watch as they leisurely drink their watered-down whiskey. The Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) considers pole sports as, “a performance sport combining dance and acrobatics on a vertical pole”. Recently, I took a pole dance class at a competition studio in Downtown Lancaster. Right at the beginning of the class, our instructor communicated with us that this would entail pole and aerial fitness, not stripping of any sort.

The upbeat music with dark undertones made me feel empowered, and the ambient, flamboyant lights set the mood — it was nothing but positive vibes. It was all about doing you, for you. Everyone became concentrated on looking at themselves in the large mirror, so no one was worried about anyone else as the instructor taught us our routine. It truly takes grit in order to even start pole dancing, from the most basic introductory movements to the most complex and intricate routines you may see on stage. Once we began, everyone went into their zone and began to dance in their individual styles. The format of this class did not require any prior experience, so it was all about having fun and not worrying about any techniques nor perfection. Solely feeling yourself.  

That being said, there were some not-so-fun parts. The instructor forewarned us about pole kisses, which are kind of like battle scars. She also told us that with pole dancing, people may experience onset pain and bruises, meaning your body may not hurt in a few hours, but in two days, you may feel sore and bruises may show up gradually (I can vouch for this).

Our instructor mentioned the fact that pole dancing is in the official process of being reviewed by the Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport since its passing of the qualification exams along with break dancing and cheerleading, which goes to show that pole dancing is an actual sport that should be recognized. While it is for sure a form of fitness, it is also an expression of art. In my opinion, it is intensely beautiful and entrancing. The amount of strength demanded is immense and noteworthy. People most definitely do not accredit pole dancing for what it is truly worth. That being said, no one can have a say if they do not experience it themselves.

The most empowering moment was when we collectively performed our routine and watched ourselves in the mirror. Something about dancing in front of mirrors with mood lighting is so exhilarating. I think with our societal standards today, we should not and do not have to hide our identities and how we express ourselves. Sexuality is forever becoming and infinitely evolving. No one has the right to tell you how you should feel or how you should explore it. Do what you want, and try new things. You never know what you’ll discover.

Sophomore Tira Mercadante is a Contributing Writer. Her email is