Pole Studios as Spaces Between the Adult Entertainment, Art, Fitness and Sporting Fields

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Anthropology and Sociology


Taking an ethnographic approach, this article examines how pole is taught and embodied within pole studios. Pole studios stand at the nexus of the expansion of pole dance from the field of adult entertainment into the fitness industry, sporting world, and more. This article argues that pole studios serve as “spaces between fields” where pole is undergoing standardisation and production as fitness activity, sport, art, and erotic dance. Although divides exist, this study illustrates ways that pole studios can serve as a bridge connecting those fields. Studios in effect produced pole as a multifaceted activity by: offering specialised courses (e.g. fitness versus erotic pole dance classes), teaching leveled classes in the basics of poling that were hybridised and built students’ bodily capital in diverse ways without stigmatising them, and being ambiguous when discussing potential audiences. Such helps explain pole’s continued development. It also demonstrates the usefulness of Eyal’s concept of spaces between fields for scholars of sports and leisure studying shifts in the nature and function of physical activities.

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Sport in Society