For those of you who don't know me my name is Sam Remmer and I have been pole dancing since March 2004. I also run my own pole school called The Art of Dance where I employee 6 other pole dancing instructors and 2 Burlesque instructors. Having been involved in the pole dancing industry for over 5 years I have seen many changes and have been pleasantly surprised at how popular pole dancing has become. However, that popularity seems to have come with a price: As the number of pole schools has been increasing, I have become aware that not all of them seem to be passionate about pole dancing and many seem interested purely in cashing in on a growing trend.
My first real concern arose when I found out about a local university that was teaching classes with 8 people per pole! The instructor did have a massive amount of knowledge physiology and anatomy - but had no real knowledge of pole dancing. I met up with some of her students and found them inverting in a very dangerous fashion and with 8 per pole they are rarely supervised. My next concern came about when I heard that someone was teaching pole dancing from their bedroom. They were charging £10 per hour and apparently there was barely enough room to swing a cat. One student explained to me that on her first lesson she paid £10 and then spent the first 10 minutes watching a YouTube video before being told she could then go into another room containing a pole and practice what she had just watched. The student was then left on her own, unsupervised for most of the remainder of the hour.
In 2006 I entered my first national pole dancing competition - Miss Pole Dance UK - where I qualified for the finals. Entering such a competition gave me the opportunity to meet up with other dancers from across the UK so we could chat and share ideas. In 2007 and 2008 I again entered the Miss Pole Dance UK competitions and Pole Divas championships and qualified for the finals, on each occasion meeting more respected dancers and establishing close friendships too.
In 2007 I attended the International Pole Federation (IPF) meeting which was an attempt to form a governing body. I was selected to be on the board but unfortunately the IPF never got established. Despite the failure of the IPF, those who attended the meetings continued to fight for what they believed in and we were determined to push things forward Subsequent attempts have been made but it has proved difficult to unify the pole dance industry.
My concern was that no one actually wanted a governing body that would dictate how they should teach or what qualifications they should have - yet everyone was agreed that they wanted better standards. Achieving this was not going to be easy and as with any industry, divisions were already occurring.
My idea was to establish an advisory body rather than a governing body. That way individuals could have some freedom to make their own decisions. The Pole Dance Community idea was not only to set standards and give advice but to be a portal and networking area so that anyone could use the site for free advice, promotion or fun. I also wanted to use my existing contacts within the industry to make democratic choices about how the site is run and what the codes of conduct contain otherwise it would just me me dictating to the rest of the industry and that was unlikely to succeed.
It is as a result of these (my history and my passion for pole dancing) that I started to work with people such as Genevieve Moody from The Flying Studio and Dana Mayer from Rock n Roll Pole who are responsible for setting set up the Equity Pole Dancers Working Party. The Equity group has been a brilliant opportunity for pole people from across the UK to meet up and share ideas and set actions into place. The Equity group were responsible for the first official UK Pole Dance Day which happened on 1st May 2009.
Working with the Equity group further highlighted the need for an advisory body as well as allowing us to share ideas and discuss how we could make the pole dancing industry better for those who are passionate about it.
So in May 2009 the Pole Dance Community (PDC) site was launched. It will continue to be a work in progress and will continue to rely on the support of it's members and the input of groups such as the Equity working group.
My hopes for the future are that the PDC site will continue to grow and gain support and will prove increasingly valuable to those involved in modern pole dancing. I also hope that through sites like the PDC and through the hard work of many pole dancers across the globe we will help to educate the public about our art so that pole dancing can be recognised for the amazing gymnastic dance form it really is.
Sam Remmer x