A Texas-Sized PoleCon 2016!
PoleCon is the original event celebrating the pole dance/pole fitness community. It is brought to a new city every year. In 2016 we headed down to Fort Worth, Texas, the city of cowboys and culture, for a weekend of pole, fellowship and just a few bruises.
#polecon2016 started off with a torrential downpour! Seriously, we started looking for pairs of animals heading to an ark for two straight days! While the rain wreaked all kinds of havoc with folks missing flights or being rerouted with luggage following hours later, by early Friday morning the clouds had parted and the sun welcomed the bedraggled and only slightly soggy polers to the charming city of Fort Worth.
Polers from all over the world came to PoleCon to take workshops, watch or perform in showcases, visit the awesome vendors and hang out in our X-Pole provided Aerial Playground!
The PoleCon Pep Squad, hand-picked Platinum Sponsors for their spunk, spread Texas-sized cheer throughout the convention center in huge cowboy hats and matching shirts.
PoleCon provided non-stop showcases featuring 144 performers from all over the world hosted all weekend by MCs Crystal Belcher and Shay Jones, a vibrant vendor floor, as well as free and paid workshops all happening simultaneously throughout the Fort Worth Convention Center.
Friday morning kicked off with amazing performances by Troupes and Groups, sponsored by Silver Sponsor Twisted Polerina, which included many Texas-based studios who brought all their pole sisters and brothers with them.
The PowerFlow showcase featuring Bad Kitty® Brand Ambassadors Samantha Star and Amy Hazel came after a huge and delicious fajita buffet lunch with tres leches cake for dessert (included in the cost of admission). The dynamic Men of Pole showcase included Jonathan Nosan from Contorture, (recently featured on America’s Got Talent), AccroBrandon who treated us to a “Magic Mike”-esque show and Carlos França who performed twice in Men of Pole – once on pole to open the show and then on aerial straps to close the show. The Pole Masters Showcase (for men and women 40+) rounded out the day and included the amazing Mary Caryl and Leesi L’Ru of FabPole and was sponsored by Glory of LA.
Bad Kitty® Ambassadors Michelle Natoli, Nicole the Pole, Nadia Sharif, Sarah Jade, Amy Hazel and Samantha Star as well as Brand Director Karol Helms all taught paid workshops throughout the weekend.
In the busy free workshop room were several 60 min movement workshops including yoga with Jai Lyles, Partner Acro Yoga with Khristen and Carissa of silver sponsor Twisted Bodies, and Amorous Chair with Tanya Christopher – all taught to huge crowds. Lisa Adams and Carla Mock both conducted 30 min seminars on how to maintain a successful studio including how to go from start up to success and how to hire great instructors and staff and Shayne Evans from Vertical Life PR gave us some tips about being social media mavens.
In the vendor area our Sponsors hosted “Seven Minutes in Heaven” – a FREE mini private complete with a pole – with their sponsored athletes including Jamilla Deville and Pantera. Several lucky people got amazing tips just for coming by their booth!
Our Friday evening Sexy Pole showcase started with a party! Usually the dancing is after the show but #DJPoleCon from Gold Sponsors 123Poling.com turned the party up with old school and newer hits. We had to delay the start of the show; everyone was having too much fun! The showcase started with Wink’s new movie “Chiaroscuro” and showcased a variety of different kinds of sexy from #stripperchic to the reigning Miss Pole Dance America and Bad Kitty Brand Amabassador Sarah Jade strutting her stuff to a new water-based act by Archer of Vertical Joe’s and a sultry performance by Karol Helms. In addition to performing in the Sexy Showcase, Lux ATL and Nia Burks also hosted a panel discussion on sex workers and strippers that was very well attended and generated some great talk about how our communities intersect and support one another earlier in the day.
Saturday was BUSY! Several paid workshops held by pole super stars like Heidi Coker, Phoenix Kazree and Isis Diamond were completely SOLD OUT! The free workshop room was hoppin’ with both movement workshops and seminars such as a free Liquid Motion teaser lead by Jeni Janover and an awesome seminar on how to get your eyebrows on FLEEK by Amy Henderson.
The showcases on the main stage began at 9am with the brightest and newest talent in the Up and Coming Stars Showcase, including two performers from Silver Sponsor and Texas pole studio, Twisted Bodies. The Contemporary/Artistic showcase headlined by Shaina Cruea with performances by Lindsay Lithe, Pink Puma, Irmingard Mayer and more had the tough job of being between pole dancers and a picnic-type buffet lunch complete with warm cookies and brownies.
After lunch, Dangerous Curves, the only plus-sized pole dance competition founded by Roz “the Diva” Mays and now run by Tausha Ostrander, took the stage and amazed us with feats of strength and flexibility. The Pole Comedy showcase, sponsored by Bad Kitty® and hosted by comedian Shanna Christmas, opened with a T-Rex in a tutu pole dancing! Really it was the Pole Comedian, Amy Rosvally in disguise. I even joined in the fun and reprised my winning “White and Nerdy” routine before Patrick Ryan expressed his love of donuts to a cheering crowd.
The Hall of Fame Games, hosted by Dustin Dorough and Pantera closed out Saturday on the main stage with competitors vying for records such as fastest climb, most revolutions in a spin (on static) and who could hold an iron X the longest!
Our Future of Pole Fitness panel, introduced last year in New Orleans, went through a revamp and turned into “Colleen’s Fireside Chat,” an intimate discussion much less formal than a panel to talk about big and bold topics such as sustainability and professionalism in our industry featuring Tami Schlichter from US Aerial and Torwa Joe from Vertical Joes amongst others.
The Saturday evening showcase, also included in admission, was an absolutely EPIC Black Girls Pole! Hosted by Nicole O’Hara, BGP it was a celebration of women and men of all colors and included several amazing pole dancers including Vertical Joe’s, Nicole the Pole, Nadia Sharif, Phoenix Kazree, Amy Henderson, Chocolate, the duo Pemi, Crystal Belcher and more. UPA was livestreaming the WHOLE THING! Check it out at this link.
Sunday morning, Roz “the Diva” Mays hosted “Texas Got Talent” which showcased non-pole talents including singing, rapping, break dancing and one very cool but weird thing that Amanda R. could do with her tongue. Our last showcase was lyra and featured Miss Texas winner Sarah Sparkles and Pony Poison.
In our free workshop room, STEZ brought Buti yoga to an enthusiastic crowd and Ariana taught us all about Melt, the second, free myofascial release seminar after Rad Roller had us rolling out our aching muscles on Friday and Saturday—everyone really needed all that release after this crazy weekend!
The fun wasn’t just in the convention center; right outside was the unique Water Gardens, a playground and perfect spot for instagramming! Dmitry Politov, Samantha Star, Heidi Coker and more found new and interesting shapes in the sunshine and at night.
PoleCon (video recap by 123poling.com at this link!) was described as “a big, family reunion” and that’s exactly what it was. A wacky group of all ages (kids too!) all joined together by our love of pole AND free lunch. I’m so happy to see this event grow so much from our relaunch in New Orleans last year and CAN’T WAIT to invite you all to #polecon2017 when we invade Atlanta June 1-4, 2017, tickets onsale July 1.
(featured photo by @jennmlndz)