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Chinese Pole vs. Pole Dancing

By on August 21, 2017

Chinese pole is dated all the way back to 221 BC. Evidence of this beautiful art can be found on mural paintings and brick carvings, according to the website Vision Times. The website also says this type of acrobatics was mostly developed during the Qin and Han dynasties in China.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The poles that were used back then were laced with rubber material and were about 10 to 30 feet high (when in pole dance competitions the height varies from 9 and 12 feet!). Also, the burn marks on the acrobats’ skin from training were used to determine who had trained or not on a particular day. More or less like pole dancers see their bruises today as “trophies” from having worked out hard.

As you can see in the video of Chinese pole there is overlap with the moves you might have learned in pole dance, but without the “dancing” part, which seems to be exclusive to pole dancing.

Training in Chinese Pole and pole dance

Carlos Ramírez from Argentina (also known as Circo Bob, or Circus Bob in English), is experienced in both Chinese Pole and pole dance. He considers the Chinese Pole to be much more acrobatic than pole dance and he thinks that Chinese Pole requires the athlete to be in a better physical condition, “like an elite pole dance competitor”.

To him, Chinese pole is a more risky practice because of the types of tricks performed, such as flips and somersaults. But he also thinks that pole dance is slowly beginning to include some moves originally from the Chinese acrobatics.

“To me, pole dance and Chinese Pole are completely different”, says Carlos. “In Chinese Pole you have to wear clothes because otherwise you’ll get really bad burns and in pole dance you can’t because then you’ll have no grip”.


Still, there are similarities trick-wise, explains Carlos. For instance, what we know in pole dance as the Starfish and X-men in Chinese Pole are called Iron Foot and Flag, respectively. In the videos above, what other tricks can you recognize in pole dance practice today?

Carlos, who has competed both in pole dance and Chinese Pole, says that there are differences in this area of the discipline as well: pole dance competitions require a specific time frame to perform and the Chinese Pole is judged more on the artistic side, rather than technique or what tricks you’ve done.

While Chinese Pole certainly has some overlap with pole dancing, there are a lot of clear differences, and Chinese Pole developed centuries before pole dancing. Nevertheless, pole today is being influenced by acrobatic and cirque arts like Chinese Pole and we are likely to see this influence continue as pole continues to change and grow.


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Ermelinda Maglione
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Ermelinda Maglione

I'm a Venezuelan pole addict and a digital journalist. Combining these two passions together I've created a monster hehe. I love to write about controversial pole topics, give tips, do interviews and organize pole events in my country.
Ermelinda Maglione
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