Pole dancing has been a non-stripper thing for a while now. Well, it's obviously still a stripper thing, but many non-strippers now turn to it for general fitness and to ensure they could flee upward into a firehouse if the situation calls for it.
Even though pole dancing champions have performed on The View, which is where things go to lose all intrigue or sexiness, the idea of a pole dancing competition is still enticing. But don't expect to see anything salacious at the fourth annual Miss Texas Polestar this weekend: points are awarded for costumes and everything has to stay in place during the routines.
"Wardrobe malfunctions are points deducted," says stage director Stephanie Brinlee.
Her mother, Linda Spraggins, is one of the owners of Miss Texas Polestar, and Brinlee is a board member. Since the first year, the competition has grown from three categories -- amateur (mostly students), fitness (mostly instructors) and ultimate (for regular competitors) -- to include aerial silks, lyra (aerial hoops) and a masters category for women over 40. Next year they're even hoping to open it up to men.
Brinlee was skeptical seven years ago when her doctor just said, "Try pole dancing," after she asked what she could try to strengthen her immune system. She just wasn't skeptical enough for her and her mom to not try it.
"My first class did not make me feel sexy, but I thought, man my abs feel good."
Four months later Spraggins and Brinlee started teaching classes themselves at Vertical Fitness Dallas. Since then Brinlee estimates they've collectively taught nearly 3000 women, and only seven of those were strippers.
"Go to Wal Mart, close your eyes, point at 10 different women, that's who you're gonna see at these competitions."
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There are also some serious pros though. MTPS's professional division is open to competitors from across the country, and the winner there goes on to the 2014 Pole Championship Series. The judging criteria changes in every category, but most of the standards involve costume, choreography, presentation, stage presence and various required elements. Amateurs for example are not allowed to have their hips above their head at any point -- their entire routine has to be composed mostly of spins.
Judging is standardized across the country, and the rules are updated yearly. This year none of the competitors can use gloves or grips, which were allowed in past years. The pole has to be completely bare, cleaned only with water and alcohol. Naturally this requires a much stronger grip.
This year they've also added a "double pole" category, where teams of two take on a single pole, using each other for balance and leverage. "One girl will be on top, the other underneath and they need to counterbalance each other as they do moves and flips," Brinlee explains, proving that pole dancing can instill positive values: trust is just as important as strength.
MTPS goes all day Saturday at Lakewood Theater, but if you're not lucky enough to make it you can catch the whole thing live at www.poledancelivestream.com