Many of you responded with anger after hearing that Swansea University Pole Fitness Society had been banned by the Swansea University Student Union (SUSU).
Here is the original article containing the Pole Dance Community response to members of the SUSU board. When the SUSU failed to respond we escalated our response with an open letter which we also sent to the press and the story went viral.
We heard reports that the SUSU were hoping that by ignoring the correspondence the issue would simply go away and people would forget the story but this was never going to happen and we then proceeded to escalate the case against SUSU.
Message from Imogen Dolan, University of Essex - Pole Club President.
Hello and welcome to Inter University Pole Competition 2014! Essex University are delighted to be hosting IUPC for the second time running, with the competition being now in its fourth year. We had such fun organising it last year and seeing so many wonderful performers, we can’t wait to host again! We also hope to carry on the successes of the previous competitions held by Bristol and Cardiff.
The Inter University Pole Competition is a chance for universities across the UK to showcase their students’ pole talents in a national competition in three categories – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, with an optional Group Category. All competitors will get full feedback and there are no compulsory moves. The competition is sponsored by the Pole Dance Community and X-Pole and aims to be a fair, ethical and structured competition ran by students for students.
There will be 25 universities competing against each other.
- Sam Remmer
- Sam King
- Pippa Loveridge
- Kate SpinCity Edwards
- Cath Ballantyne
- Lauren Red
- Nathalie Barron
- Kristina Walker
- Sandrea Simons
And guest performer NiCo J C ModeStine!
The PDC approved judging system follows on from last year’s lay out. There will be 3 performance poles, one for each category (beginner, intermediate and advanced). Each pole will be watched by 3 of our incredible judges, equalling a total of 9 of the UK’s most respected pole industry people judging the competition. Each competitor will also receive professional feedback on their performance. We have provided 13 songs for all competitors to choose from, 3 competitors who have chosen the same song will perform it alongside the
other 2 categories to their respective judges, resulting in judges watching an entire category, letting them assess each competitor in a fair manner. We hope that this system will offer the best opportunity to the competitors to be judged fairly and consistently. I would also like to emphasise that each competitor must feel very confident in their category, particularly in Advanced. In the past some competitors were showing bad technique and dangerous execution, which compromises their safety. Our number one concern is your competitors’ safety on the pole.
We hope to bring together universities from all across the UK who share the same passion for pole, promoting good relationships between universities and celebrating pole dance between individuals regardless of level or university. Our wonderful sponsors also have provided some amazing prizes for the winners and the runners up of each category. We look forward to a fantastic day of pole!
Any questions please get in contact with us either by my email: firstname.lastname@example.org, our competition and performance secretary’s email, Olivia Mella, email@example.com or our facebook page:
Can’t wait to meet you all!
President of Essex Pole Dancing Club (Club members pictured below right)
What is the IUPDC?
The Inter-University Pole Dance Competition is the UK’s competition for University student pole athletes aiming to showcase the depth and breadth of University pole talent in the UK.
The IUPDC will give University student dancers the opportunity to compete against their peers through our three single categories – Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced – and group category.
The IUPDC will ensure our system of judging is fair, ethical and transparent at all stages of the competition.
Our judging panel will be made up of a team of experienced professionals from the
The IUPDC aims to reflect the views of the pole community as a whole, taking all feedback on board and working with the pole community to develop a competition
we are all proud of.
The IUPDC will educate members of the public and the student community on the true athleticism and artistry involved in pole dance and help to raise the profile of pole dance as a sport.
How does the IUPDC work?
Universities will be able to enter 1 competitor per category:
Dear SUSU Trustee Board
We have considered your response and taken feedback from our membership and wider pole community. We conclude that one of the following three courses of action must take place:
As a membership organisation, responding to our members wishes, we are rightfully tasked with ensuring that one of the above options takes place. Please be assured of our resolve in this regard.
Pole Dance Community
Swansea Pole Fitness society has been operating successfully under the watchful eye of PDC Approved 4 star pole dancing instructor Dawn Roberts. Dawn is the principal instructor and proprietor of Circadian fitness and classes are held in her stunning Swansea venue _ see picture left.Despite a successful track record and having classes attended by both men and women board members of the Swansea University Students Union have voted unanimously to ban the club.
Here is the response from SUSU board. We would like to invite you to comment on this letter so we can send SUSU a response on behalf of the Pole Dance Community.
SUSU TRUSTEE BOARD RESPONSE
RE: POLE FITNESS SOCIETY
On September 12th 2013, a Swansea University Students’ Union Trustee Meeting was held. As part of the Agenda, a list of proposed Societies for the academic year 2013-2014 was presented. These were looked at in succession and a decision made on whether or not to accept each one.
The criteria used on which to base this decision was; whether the Society had applied in time and filled in all the required paperwork; whether the Society’s aims, objectives and activities met the Union’s aims and objectives; whether or not the Society was acting legally and whether or not the Society was in the best interests of the university’s students.
The Pole Fitness Society was discussed in turn and at this point a paper was presented by one of the Trustees who believed that the Society did not meet the criteria needed to be accepted. It was this paper that was the basis of the long discussion that took place. The following is the outcome of that discussion and the reason why the Pole Fitness Society was refused acceptance as an official Students’ Union Society.
The Trustees believe that ‘pole fitness’ classes are increasingly marketed as an empowering way for young women to keep fit and regain control of their lives. This is especially true on university campuses. We asked ourselves however, is it empowering to gain fitness in a way that is inextricably linked to the multi million pound sex industry?
Pole fitness and pole dancing are a direct spin off from lap dancing. Can we separate ‘pole fitness’ from ‘pole dancing’? We believe that you cannot, because whatever you name it, pole ‘fitness’ or pole ‘dancing’, you are still participating in the social context of what the pole represents. Everyone knows where it comes from, that pole dancers are to be found in strip clubs and sex establishments and that pole dancing is a dance form specifically designed to sexually excite the watcher. Pole dancers are almost always women, and watchers almost always men.
Although ‘pole fitness’ is sold as an empowering activity, we believe that women have been deceived into thinking this is a way of taking charge of their sexuality and their own decisions. Moreover we believe that it is just a further debasement of our culture and another sign of a creeping backlash against women’s true empowerment and a show of misogyny.
We believe that this is linked to the rise of ‘Raunch Culture’ in our society and our ever increasing pornified world where women are increasingly being portrayed and treated as objects for sexual enjoyment. This not only normalises the practice of ‘pole fitness’ but encourages and hoodwinks young girls and women into accepting and embracing this behaviour.
Even if individual women can separate pole fitness and pole dancing in their own minds, we believe that once context and politics are taken into account they are inextricably linked. Women as a class are detrimentally affected by activities such as ‘pole fitness’ which upholds and bolsters sexist attitudes and behaviours. What is useful about pole fitness – to the sex industry at least – is its association to pole dancing and lap dancing. Whereas we are not saying that anyone who attends pole fitness classes are training to move into pole dancing or lap dancing, what we are saying is that it is normalising the practice to the wider group of young women and girls who see work in the sex industry as a viable option.
As a Student’s Union, we should not be deaf to the very real issue of ‘pole fitness’ playing a part in upholding this Raunch Culture and objectification of women and girls and the impact of this on our female students. We have achieved some outstanding work on gender equality, notably by banning the sales of Lad’s Mags in the Union, the banning of sexist advertisements and the Zero Tolerance Campaign. We believe that allowing the Pole Fitness Society would not be in line with our gender equality work.
Female students have gender equality legislation behind them in allowing them a student experience free from inequality, sexual oppression and objectification.
Swansea City Council has recently passed a ‘Nil Policy’ for the establishment of Sex Entertainment Venues in the City, and Welsh Government has a ‘Right to Be Safe’ Policy which outlines its strategy for ending Violence against Women and Girls. Pole dancing and the sex industry is a part of that and are seen as a form of violence against women.
Evidence also shows that young women aged 16-24 are the group of women who experience the most domestic and sexual violence. This is the age of a large group of our female students. We believe that activities such as ‘pole fitness’ contributes to an atmosphere where women are viewed as sexual objects and where violence against them is acceptable.
The decision of the Trustee Board was unanimous in refusing the Pole Fitness Society official Students’ Union status.
To comment on this letter please e-mail us. We will be sharing your responses with former members of the Pole Fitness Society and liaising with other university pole clubs and societies.
Please see our original response to SUSU which to date they have declined to comment on. We felt the lack of response meant we had no choice but to air this publicly.
RE: Swansea University Pole Fitness Society
Dear Ceinwen Cloney,
I am writing on behalf of the Pole Dance Community, we are the largest advisory body to the fitness pole dancing industry and we require our members to abide by a strict code of conduct. We would like to respond on behalf of our members to your letter sent to Swansea Pole Fitness Society (SPFS) earlier this week. Please see the response to individual aspects of your letter below:
"Following on from the meeting of the Trustees Board last week, I am writing to inform you that the Trustees have decided not recognise and approve Pole Fitness as a Students' Union Society. The Trustees considered all of the society registrations and determined that Pole Fitness was not in line with what their expectations of what a Union Society should promote as an activity. It is believed that Pole Fitness does not promote full gender equality and the empowerment of women students through its promoting and upholding of a sexist unequal society."
We would like to question why you think the society does not promote gender equality when the group takes on both male and female members and is clear in its promotion. We also noticed you have a cheer-leading society which is still active which only takes on female members.
Also you state that the pole dancing society does not promote empowerment of women and is upholding of a sexist society, I feel you need to elaborate on these points and explain exactly how you feel the society does this. I have checked the society's details and they clearly promote pole fitness and not lap dancing or similar activities which you may have confused them with. I must draw your attention to the following slogans/statements used to promote SPFS:
Pole fitness is a fun and alternative way to improve strength, balance, flexibility and a great way to increase your confidence!
These classes are purely for fitness, there will be aches and bruising (its worth it!) and clothing is shorts and t-shirts.
This decision will mean that you are unable to attend Freshers' Fayre or receive any further support or recognition from the Union.
We feel that until you can answer the points raised above then your decision to prevent the existence of the SPFS is deeply unfair on this hard-working society who are using pole fitness (a blend of dance and gymnastics) to increase the physical and mental health of its members.
We would also like to point out that the society classes are run by and overseen by one of our PDC Approved 4 star pole instructors Dawn Roberts. Dawn has an impressive CV and has been an active member with us for several years. Dawn abides by our strict code of conduct which I have pasted below this letter for your perusal*.
Please be aware that your decision is very different to that of Plymouth University who have given their pole society sports club status in recognition of their hard work and that of Essex, Bristol and Newcastle universities who have worked with us to promote the inter-university pole dancing competition held annually at the aforementioned establishments.
if you would like to respond to this before we share your original letter with our members and their students then that would be great as this issue is extremely important to them. We are also happy to take this to a higher level as we feel your actions are against equal opportunities and that you are merely discriminating against a society on the basis of ignorance and misplaced stereotypes.
Sam Remmer on behalf of the PDC Team
* Codes of Conduct.
In June 2013, at Hotel De Vie , the very first Stripper Style show was hosted by Jolene Whiting of Purity Pole Dance. It went so well that Tess Taylor, Jamie Taylor, Jolene, Lisa Williams and Robyn Rooke all decided to take the show on tour to show as many people as possible what kind of show Stripper Style pole dancing can offer.
The show consists of two sets from each performer of no holds barred, sensual and authentic pole dance. Free of the usual wardrobe, music and dance move restrictions you find at pole dance competitions and events. You will see the kind of pole dancing these performers have always wanted to do publicly but have not truly been allowed to as yet. But now these ladies are making their own rules.
The term `Stripper Style` was flippantly coined by Jamie Taylor several years ago and is also the name of her private face book group.
Jamie says “We all love stripper style pole dance as it’s one of the most purposeful art forms of obvious feminine sexuality. The combination of assertive, lascivious dance, mixed with very strong tricks and spins, plus physical flexibility that’s used in way that suggests a strong mind as well as a strong body. Each stripper style performance unveils the truth that these days, sexually confident women are super healthy, super strong, super flexi and most of all, pretty unattainable. As we pole dance provocatively firstly for ourselves and secondly as a celebration of all the above with and for other women. Men are very welcome to the show too of course…if they can handle it.”
As for the No Nudity clause of all the Stripper Style on Tour show, Jamie says “ As this is our show, we all work together very closely and all feel the same way about what this show is, we get to wear what we want- which is usually very little indeed. I don’t think `getting the boobs out` would bother any of us, but we don’t think its necessary. Apart from the unwanted messiness of the legalities we would have to go through at each venue, we don’t think it would add anything to the message this show is trying convey. Our performances are so damn unique and provocative, we simply don’t need to.”
Stripper Style on Tour will next be hosted by Defy Gravity in Pembrokeshire on Saturday October 5th 2013- tickets are available now from www.defygravity.info or by calling 07866846221.
The third show will be hitting Croyden in February 2014, and Sussex soon after.
If you wish to have this tour near you get in touch with either of the performers to make it happen.
Over the weekend of 13th and 14th July, Pole Performance’s instructors and some of their students attended Eastbourne Extreme to promote Pole Fitness. The biggest free sports festival in the UK took place along Eastbourne seafront with 25,000 people attending. We set up our X-stage and aimed to change people’s views and broaden minds about what Pole Fitness is all about.
We demonstrated skills from basic moves to advanced tricks over the two days and had a great response from the crowd, with very positive feedback. We generated a lot of interest from local businesses, and were pleased that a local bootcamp approached us asking to run some classes with us. We also got to jam with the Parkour team, who were demonstrating next to us.
Jenny Coulling joined the Pole Dance Community in May 2013. We spoke to Jenny to find out more about her passion for pole dancing and her school Vertikal Pole in Grimbsy. Jenny qualified as an Xpert trained instructor in 2913 as well as undertaking a successful level 5 AAP grading.
"I started pole in february 2010 and instantly became addicted, attending between 2-4 classes each week. Although I have always been quite an active person and I've tried a number of activities I would definitely say that pole is the most physically challenging thing I have done. It draws on both explosive strength, core stability and flexibility, and when it comes to routines it is one of the most energetically intensive 5 minutes a person can do!"
"There are always new moves to learn and new challenges to conquer with pole, and I have found it amazing how quickly progress can be made with some regular practice. Moves that seem impossible at first try are soon achieved, which is very satisfying and motivating. Of course there are also moves which require a much longer build up of strength and/or flexibility, I have been training iron x for almost a year now and it still alludes me, although I am realising that some things just take time and that's ok, I'm in it for the long haul!"
"Apart from the physical side of pole, I am totally mesmerised by pole as a performance art, and I love the expressive and creative side of pole dance. I love all styles to watch and enjoy choreographing routines. I have done a couple of local competitions at an advanced level, and look forward to competing as a professional once the classes are established."
"I have taken over running pole classes in Grimsby since my (very well loved) teacher was commuting and was looking to scale back to her home base. I can't stand for there to be no pole classes in my hometown plus I have so many pole friends now. I enjoy passing on moves, techniques and experiences that I have learned and love to share my passion for pole with other people, if they get even a fraction of my enthusiasm for it then it's worth it, whether that be for just a once-a-week fitness class or if they throw themselves into it the same as me, or even more!"
"As well as running pole classes I do have a full time job as an engineer and running the classes is a hard extra commitment. However I am getting loads of help from my fantastic pole friends as we are trying to run Vertikal Pole Grimsby as a club. I am really looking forward to all of the activities and adventures that this will bring and so far teaching classes has been a very satisfying experience."
The Pole Dance Community would like to wish Jenny and her students at Vertikal Pole all the best for the future and hope they all enjoy their pole dancing progression.
The Pole Dance Community (PDC) was set up in 2009 by husband and wife team, Sid and Sam Remmer. Its mission was to create a membership system allowing professional pole instructors to self regulate the new and growing industry.
The PDC Code of Conduct was designed by the members and agreed upon as well as minimum training requirements and fair pricing policies. By these measures PDC membership became the way to recognise legitimate, professionally run pole schools.
PDC also works as an advocacy group, talking directly with underwriters, politicians and the media helping them to better understand our industry.
Rather than following the usual format of having a President head the organisation, with committees and sub committees deciding policy, the PDC is refreshingly different. In essence, the PDC was created from bottom up by the actual pole instructors, from the industry's need rather than from top down for the benefit of the organisation itself.
With no leaders, presidents or committees, the PDC provides a new, transparent, self governing platform where policy is, for the most part, gained by consensus through an online forum. On occasion, when consensus can't be reached on an important topic, we resort to one member - one vote, regardless of rank or position in the community.
Providing an instructor can abide by our Code of Conduct and meets the training qualifications, they can join us. We encourage and help instructors to achieve membership with us, raising standards in the industry and providing a pathway for career development.
We encourage dancers to train with PDC Instructors to ensure they are getting the best the industry can offer. We provide a universally accepted grading syllabus for dancers to progress through.
Together, the dancers, instructors and the PDC system are uniting the pole dance community.
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Guest article by Miss Glory Pearl.
UK Pole Dance Day was conceived by the Equity Pole Dancers’ Working Party back in 2009. We wanted to create an event that brought the pole dance community together, an event that was entirely free, open to all, and that welcomed non-polers into our studios and our world.
We chose our date - 1st May - as a tongue-in-cheek nod to May Day, when girls traditionally dance around a maypole to celebrate Spring. From the outset, we were clear about what we wanted to achieve - give pole dance a national platform, run something that was entirely independent of any pole dance organisation, and encourage a better understanding of pole dance in the wider community.