Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A Foreigner's Guide to Australian Pole Dancing

Over the past month or so, Australia has been lucky enough to welcome to our sunny shores some fabulous international pole talent. There have been (and continue to be) a number of fantastic pole camps, including the Australian Summer Pole Camp on the Gold Coast, the upcoming WA Pole Camp and the East Coast Pole Cruise (which will take place onboard a cruise ship – with waterslides! I’m VERY excited about that). We have also had Miss Pole Dance Australia, and the Australian Pole Championships. It’s been a massive month or two for Australian pole dance. We’ve had Michelle Stanek, Marion Crampe, Josiah Badazz Grant, Anastasia and Evgeny, Laura Martin, and we will soon be seeing Natasha Wang, Kelly Yvonne, Sergia Louise Anderson, Venessa Clack, Nadia Shariff and probably many more pole stars.

Sydney has crazy real estate/rental prices, so having the luxury of a spare room is quite rare. But I have one! So I’ve had the good fortune to be able to host many of the inspirational and talented pole dancers who arrive in Sydney. After many conversations with international pole stars about pole dancing, we inevitably get around to the topic of why Australian pole dance is so different from international styles. 

And it's true that we do things a little differently Down Under... I mean, we are perfectly capable of arty, pretty, contemporary routines. A lot of us perform like that regularly. But every now and again, we like to bust out some crazy, Aussie-style pole shows, the likes of which don't seem to really occur elsewhere in the world.

So it strikes me as important for international pole relations to draft a document that sets out some important principles behind the way we do things round here.

1. The Weather

It gets hot in Australia in the summer time. Really hot. In the winter time, it gets cold. This may seem easy enough to understand. However, Australians live in complete denial about the fact that it gets cold in Australia in winter (especially Sydney-siders). We really do believe that it’s warm all year round, and that the cold weather is an aberration. When it’s not summer, we all act like the cold weather is strange and unusual (even though the same thing happens every single year).

I believe that part of this strange denial stems from the fact that Australians don’t like to wear a lot of clothes. In the summer, people walk around in public pretty much half naked. We love it. It’s just how we roll. We sunbake topless at the beach. We wear shorts so short you can see where leg becomes bum. We wear Daisy Dukes that are pretty much just denim underpants. Bikini tops and monokinis are fine to wear to a nightclub (provided of course that you have your denim underpants on as well).

So as you can see, for most Aussies (and again, Sydney-siders in particular), being half-naked in public is a non-issue.

Which means that it’s only natural that Aussie pole dancers have to go a bit further to shock and awe. Which brings me to my next point.

2. She wore an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny…

Aussie pole dancers are renowned for wearing pole outfits so tiny that the audience spends most of their time wondering how on earth the pole dancer’s costume is staying in place.

I recently stumbled upon a conversation thread on Facebook that made me laugh.

Tips for keeping everything in place...

Now, I don’t want to give away my Aussie sisters’ secrets… But here are a few tips.

  • Have faith. 
    • In my experience, paranoia tells you your knickers have moved when they have not. Further more, if you’re up on stage, no one can really see anyway. So just relax.
  • Double bag it. 
    • Wear two pairs of knickers, or a g-string under your costume. I personally prefer to wear a pair of knickers that match the cut of my costume, rather than a g-string.
  • Double sided tape on your bum cheeks. 
    • Look, you can of course use tape if you want to, but my preference is not to use it. This is because I once did, and it didn’t hold. And then not only did the audience see my butt cheeks (which is fine by me), they also saw two pieces of sticky tape covered in costume fluff stuck on my butt (which I am not ok with). Although some people use it with success - I was able to lend a hand to the lovely Miss Filly in a crotch emergency once. I gave her a couple of strips of double sided tape to keep her itsy bitsy silver bikini in place - and it worked (only just!).
  • Hairspray on your bum cheeks. 
    • Never tried this - I don’t think it would withstand any kind of power pole move, but just for the sake of completeness I’m including it.
  • Strapping tape right down the middle of your Hoo Ha. 
    • You need to be a brave woman to go down this path… and a waxed/lasered woman too! I have never done this, but Aussie pole stars Jedda J Jordan and Fontaine swear by it. Jedda says “If your costume moves, no one sees anything – just like a Barbie!!” NB: Having a drink or two before attempting to remove the tape is recommended…
The Foni Fanny, named after it's inventor, Fontaine (left).
Not telling you who is modelling the Foni Fanny on the right!
And of course, sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, your costume might move a bit… you may not even notice! Hopefully the audience doesn’t notice either. And with a bit of luck, there will be no photos on Facebook to record the incident. 

Hmm, I wonder who this poor girl is?? I've blurred her face out so no one will recognise her... Right?? Except maybe my boyfriend. I mean her boyfriend! Oops ;-)


If you have ever been to an Australian pole dance competition, you might notice a few key differences. I have compiled a list of key features that are common to many Australian pole dance competitor’s shows.

A. At least one costume change onstage. Possibly more.

The general rule is to start big, and go small. Amber Ray is the queen of the massive costume, which is stripped away to reveal a very tiny costume underneath. Fontaine broke with tradition this year at Miss Pole Dance Australia, and actually went the other way – she started small and then PUT CLOTHES ON! Wild. No one knew what to think.

Amber Ray follows the traditional Aussie formula:
Massive costume to tiny costume.
Some tips on costume removal onstage: if something can go wrong, it will. If it is possible for laces to knot, or hooks to get stuck, THEY WILL. Taking clothes off onstage gracefully is way harder than it looks. Take note: VELCRO IS YOUR BEST FRIEND.

Check out my sister Maddie rocking the velcro at 0:45.

B. Music Mega Mixes

In Australia, one song is never enough. Heck, two songs aren’t even enough! We love the mega mix here. Not only can we pole dance, we can all mix music like pro DJs (well, ok, maybe amateur DJs). At the MPDA heats last year, I used 5 songs in my mega mix. Yes. Five. And I did 3 costume changes. Three. 

We also like voice overs. I’ve done them (check out my video below), Suzie Q has done them, Cleo has done them, my sister Maddie has done them, the list goes on. 

Here is an example of a voice over - my Earthquake routine from MPDA NSW this year. 

Speaking of voice overs, Amber Ray once did a live voice over. In the middle of a cheerleader themed routine, she actually belted out a cheer. It was amazing. Check it out:

C. Pyrotechnics, smoke machines, fog machines, sharks with frickin laser beams…
If you’ve ever watched a Miss Pole Dance Australia opening number, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Pyrotechnics are a must, no matter what the cost. This year, MC Maxi Shields suffered singed eyelashes and a melted wig when she was caught in a blast of flames onstage. But the show must go on.


And who could forget Summer’s fireworks from her shoes? I don’t think anyone was expecting that!

This was even more amazing in real life. 

D. Over the top themes reminiscent of drag shows

We are not known for our subtlety. We like our themes, and we like them big, bold, and often, just plain weird. Some noteworthy themes in recent years:
- Oompa Loompa
- Beverley Hills 90210
- Grid Iron Football Player
- Disney characters (Little Mermaid, Princess Jasmine, Cinderella, Poison Ivy)
- Miss Universe Beauty Pageant contestant
- And so on

Below is a photo montage of some typically fabulous, crazy and wild Aussie pole dancer costumes.

There were so many good ones I had to do another montage.... I could easily do a third...

Justine McLucas is kind of a bit of a faux-Aussie Pole Dancer, seeing as how she ditched us for London... But technically, I guess it's ok for me to include her... Just goes to show that you can take the pole dancer out Australia, but you can't take the Australia out of the pole dancer!

E. Miscellaneous features

In case you hadn't noticed, we like to do the splits a lot. We also feel quite comfortable in our stripper heels, and some of us are perfectly happy to perform acrobatics such as cartwheels, backflips, backward walkovers and handstand drop splits in them (yes Chelle and Summer, I'm talking to you ladies). 

Me at MPDA this year, about to do a backward walkover drop split. Boom.

And you might have noticed that we're all a bit partial to a well-executed hair flick...

A warning to all foreigners venturing Down Under...

I wanted to finish off this guide with a cautionary tale to foreigners planning a pole adventure in Australia. Strange things can happen to you once you arrive... You may find that you lose your inhibitions, and start doing things you might not otherwise have done... The Aussie spirit really is contagious, so make sure you're fully prepared for what might happen to you! 

And just remember... What happens Down Under, stays on Facebook... FOREVER!! Muahahahaha....

Shimmy xxx

PS A thank you to Brad Edwards, Chris Misztur, Matt Granger for the photos, and thanks to the pole dancers for letting me post pics of you!

PPS What's your favourite thing about Australian pole dancers??? Keep it clean please ;-)