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Street Pole Shenanigans

By on June 27, 2017

Street Pole Graffiti. Location Unknown.

Street Pole, Guerilla Pole, Urban Pole – whatever you want to call it, we polers can’t resist inverting, climbing, and otherwise showing off our skills outside of the studio by attacking the nearest cylindrical object and documenting for the ‘gram. Natch.

As soon as you start poling you’ll never look at a tree or a street sign the same way ever again!

Why street pole?

What makes us so crazy about inverting on things we “shouldn’t”? Perhaps it’s the rebellious streak present in most of us or perhaps it’s the health benefits of inversions – we just can’t get enough! It’s probably a little bit of both combined with sharing our pole-joy with every muggle we can find to convert more pole sisters and brothers. Seriously though, we are in the middle of summer in the northern hemisphere where the clothes are already small and the weather is decent so the question really should be “Why NOT street pole”?

Where can you street pole?

An obvious choice is any public playground or beach. Playground equipment is already pretty sturdy and you’re less likely to injury yourself than on some of the less-conventional options for street poling. The bars in playground equipment were also designed for smaller hands and will feel most like a pole you’d find in a studio environment. Playgrounds often have very well cushioned floors either natural like grass or sand or a recycled rubber option making landings easier. Unless you want an audience, go later at night when the kiddies have gone to bed or prepare to instruct a hoard of interested pole babies. From my experience, most kids are extremely interested to learn a new way to play and are absurdly excited to play with an actual adult. Be prepared to be the cool Auntie or Uncle and always confirm with a parent before you start explaining how to handspring to your newest 5 year old pupil. Playground equipment can be slicker than the poles you’re used to so grab some grip just in case.

Bad Kitty ® Brand Ambassador Sam Star plays on the monkey bars

Another great, free, and typically safe place to street pole is in a nature park. Low-lying branches and medium-sized trees make excellent places to hang from! Always check for potential hazards like poison ivy or poison oak and any signs prohibiting you from climbing the trees particularly if they are on private property. Look for adult trees less likely to be injured from your shenanigans and be prepared to get your clothes dirty and/or get minor scrapes and bruises from the bark. Most trees provide great grip even if you’re usually sweaty in the studio and always carry some water and a mini first aid kit (especially if you’re deep in the woods) in case of scratches. Be kind to all the critters that live in trees and try not to disturb any nests.

plays on the same tree sun or snow!

If you’re an urban denizen you’ve likely spotted several street signs, lampposts, walk signals, and other metal or wood signage that looks like an excellent place to practice your pole dance skills. Always consider stability before attempting to pole on signage or other random post-like objects. Test if you’re about to pull it out of the ground by gently mimicking doing a shoulder mount rather than hopping up and simply doing one. Consider whether the post is circular or square – a circular post will be easier to pole on than a square one, particularly if you are using body parts other than your hands to grab. Typically more similar to playground equipment than to trees, random bits of metal can be slippery so grab some grip and only try moves you feel very secure in. Some places specifically ban inversions and there is an old wives tale that in New Orleans they grease the street lamps so you can’t pole on them. I’m not sure I believe that one as several pole dancers tested that theory when PoleCon was in NOLA!

Infamous NYC Transit Sign

Perhaps the first thing that comes when you think “street poling” is the infamous New York City signage specifically prohibiting pole dancing in the subway. Several Bad Kitty Ambassadors have done photo shoots in the subway cars (although what time they have to be up until to find an empty one is a mystery to me!) and several pole dancers like Mr. Jones  actually make money pole dancing on the subway doing acrobatic tricks for tips! While potentially the most well known form of street poling, poling in public transit (like London, metro cars between terminals at airports, any buses, etc.), this is also the most potentially dangerous. The metal is often slick, the public transit is always in motion with sudden stops and there are often tons of other people around who will not marvel at your extension when you accidentally kick them in the face.

Editor-in-chief Claire Griffin Sterrett on the D.C. Metro

What moves are the best?

You should only do moves you are very comfortable executing in a controlled environment, like your studio. Consider what clothing you’re wearing and what bits you are comfortable with possibly popping out for any random bystander to ogle. If you think you might street pole after a night out in a cute dress, just slip a pair of Brazil Pole Shorts ® in your purse and voila! Instant pole-safe wear. The most common moves people do are often hand-based moves such as a handspring/aeysha/butterfly, a regular straddle back invert, or a flag. If you’ve got very solid thigh or knee moves, why not try a kneehold or a figure-four layback?

Bad Kitty ® Brand Ambassador Michelle Stanek knows a thing or two about poling in the NYC subway!

Ready to try it?
  • Do try street poling! It’s fun!
  • Do be safe – only pole on things that won’t fall over in places you are allowed to
  • Don’t do any moves you can’t actually do in a controlled environment let alone a unique one
  • Don’t drink and attempt to street pole – we’re serious about this one!

Need more ideas? Check out these amazing Pinterest boards:

Street Pole Board 1

Street Pole Board 2

Tag us in your awesome #bkstreetpole adventures!

 

 

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Colleen Jolly
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Colleen Jolly

Colleen Jolly is AFAA and elevatED certified pole dance enthusiast and entrepreneur. She has been poling for six years, runs and owns the International Pole Convention (PoleCon), teaches pole and lyra in the DC metro area at FIT4Polers and MyBodyShop, and is a partner and instructor with 123Poling.com. She loves performing, regularly competes, and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two kitties.
Colleen Jolly
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