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The Inaugural Buffalo Pole Battle

Pole photo at The Bird’s Nest, photo by C&S Photography

I still remember the first time that I heard pole dancing was an activity that was being introduced to a main stream audience. That was upwards of a decade ago. Since that time, pole dancing has been picked up by myriad fitness centers, and can even be seen at festivals. If you’re interested in pole dancing, it’s easy to find these days. Actually, there are so many people participating in the once taboo dance exercise that an Inaugural Pole Battle is brewing. This “battle” will take place on Saturday, January 18, 2020, from 7 PM to 10 PM at Bird’s Nest Circus Arts. I spoke to co-organizer and instructor Sarah Sofia Wilde about the event.

What is the Buffalo Pole Battle?

Buffalo’s first freestyle pole battle is an event intended to bolster and unite the pole community by drawing together local pole dancers from different backgrounds and studios for an evening of creativity and friendly competition. Competitors will battle one-on-one for 60 seconds each; the winner will progress to the next round. Judges will decide who progresses based on creativity, stage presence, execution of skills and musicality. This is a freestyle battle so competitors will not be working through a pre-composed routine.

Buffalo’s first freestyle pole battle is an event intended to bolster and unite the pole community.

How competitors perform will factor in more strongly than the level of skills used and so pole dancers of all levels and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place are being donated by our amazing sponsors: Sweat716, Electric Daisy Fitness, Up Aerial Fitness, Pole, Barre & Fitness, and of course, the Bird’s Nest Circus Arts – where the event will take place. To ensure safety on the pole, competitors need to submit an application prior to the date of the battle. The battle will take place on Jan 18th, doors open at 7:00pm and the battle begins at 7:30pm.

What is the pole community like in Buffalo currently?

The pole community in Buffalo is definitely growing. As pole becomes more popular and normalized, people feel safer to try it, they feel curious and the market grows. For a while, PolePlay was the only studio in Buffalo. There have always been exotic dance clubs and Marcella’s, which provide a venue to pole dance on, but the vibe in a club is obviously very different and less conducive to structured training. Over the past 5 years Buffalo has gained GoPole Fitness (which closed briefly but is re-opening), Electric Daisy Fitness, Sweat716, The Bird’s Nest Circus Arts, and Up Aerial Fitness (which offers aerial pole).

PolePlay also changed owners and is now called Pole, Barre, and Fitness. Because the pole studio scene is so new and has grown so rapidly, there is not a lot of connection or integration among pole dancers. There are club pole dancers and studio pole dancers, and within the studio pole scene, there are different pockets communities based around each individual studio. A few studio pole dancers bounce around among the different local studios, but many primarily train at their “home” studio.

Will The Inaugural Buffalo Pole Battle help to lay that groundwork?

I would love to see this community integrate into a more cohesive culture. I think we have a lot to learn from one another. Honestly, it’s like cross pollination. If my students are really interested in learning to pole dance, I want them to get as much experience as they can. Hearing a wide range of voices and styles will only nourish their pole development (assuming it is a safe learning environment). As a local instructor, I’ve become friends with most of the studio owners/instructors in the area and I think the general consensus is a desire to collaborate and unite our respective communities. Each teacher, and each studio, has a different style to share. I am hopeful that the Buffalo Pole Battle will be the first of many pole community events geared toward connecting pole dancers across the city and region in general. I was really encouraged to see that each of the other pole studios are excited to participate in and contribute to this event. I think that shows promise for more collaboration to come.

I also believe that this connection and collaboration within the community will help us build a stronger pole community to help each studio thrive. The stronger the pole community is in general, the more likely we are to rally people to attend a workshop from a guest instructor, host teacher trainings, and grown the Buffalo pole scene in general. Our community as a whole will level up so much more if we can grow together, provide a greater support system for pole dancers, and encourage one another through training, friendly competition, and more.

Beginner pole class at The Bird’s Nest Circus Arts

Is there still a stigma associated with the pole?

Because of the stigma often associated with pole dancing and stripping, pole, as a sport, is still a little bit blushing in the background. However, it can be an incredibly empowering full-body workout. I never feel more fit than when I train pole regularly. As a pole instructor, I often see students who either want to brag about this new, edgy, sexy fitness activity they’re trying out, or they want to hide it from co-workers and family because of how the sport is perceived. It’s a shame that there is fear of judgement around pole dancing and exotic dancing in general.

It’s a shame that there is fear of judgement around pole dancing and exotic dancing in general.

Nevertheless, pole is definitely on the rise. A lot of work is being done within the pole community at large to both normalize pole dancing as a sport and simultaneously mitigate the stigma of club pole dancing. Some studios choose to distance themselves from “club culture” and potential stigma by focusing on athleticism and fitness as removed from the exotic, while other studios fully embrace the sexy and exotic side of pole dance. Some students will naturally gravitate towards one style over another and having different options for polers is great, in my opinion, as long as neither shames the other!

Pole class at Electric Daisy Fitness, photo by Kelsey Dewey.

Kelsey Dewey, owner of Electric Daisy Fitness, also chimed in, by saying:

The Pole Battle is something Sarah and I discussed 6 months ago. I am so excited it is not only happening this January, but to see the level of support within our pole and aerial community is wonderful. Our community is strong and growing.

Performance is a big part of pole studio culture in other cities outside of Buffalo. We’re starting to see more of it here. As a studio owner, it is one of my goals to help create performance opportunities for students locally. My hope is that this event will lead to more performances and collaboration in the future.

When asked why she started pole dancing, Kelsey answered:

Initially, I was drawn to the athleticism of pole, as pole dancing requires a tremendous amount of strength. But I fell in love with the sensual movement. Pole dancing allows me to connect with my body, and to explore and express emotions.

The Inaugural Buffalo Pole Battle

Saturday, January 18, 2020

7 PM – 10 PM

The Bird’s Nest Circus Arts

66 Fillmore Ave., Buffalo, New York 14210

For more information on this battle, visit this Facebook event.

Tickets: $5

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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