So you are friends with a pole dancer – congratulations! Welcome to our wonderful community. Wait! What are all these photos about? What are these people doing? That looks painful! What on earth is a rainbow marchenko? What are these people on about?

Don’t panic – there is much to learn but sit back and enjoy – here is my non pole dancer’s guide to the pole dancer in your life – AKA a Muggle’s Guide to Pole Dancers

We love sharing our photos

We love pole photos – they are a brilliant way to track progress, and get tips from others on what we are doing right or wrong. Plus we are proud of our achievements – if you’d spent 18 months trying to do something and then finally managed it, wouldn’t you be proud? That’s longer than it takes to have a baby.

We wear different clothes

We are not used to wearing much clothing. It’s largely for safety reasons – fabric slips off metal poles and we need skin contact to grip to the pole, which is why we have to have as much skin as possible on display. But even off the pole, our wardrobes aren’t like other people’s. Instead of the usual brands everyone knows and aspires to, we wear stuff like Bad Kitty and Black Milk and Paradise Chick and legwarmers and stuff from Pole Junkie. This is our uniform.

If we are wearing actual clothes, it will invariably be lycra or leggings of some description because you never know when you will need to stop, drop and split.

8 inch Pleasers are not what you think

We wear special shoes – known in the muggle world as stripper heels, but officially named (I’m not making this up) Pleasers. You know what I’m talking about – those clear heels Chris Rock does a whole skit about in his Never Scared show. These are actually professional dance shoes, and believe it or not are a lot easier to walk and dance in than normal shoes. They start low, at 5/6 inches, and go up to 10 inches. Always a big moment when someone announces “Just gone from my 7 inch to 8 inch Pleasers and never going back!” Also not as obscene as it sounds.

We don’t take normal photos

LOL at people who go to landmarks like the Grand Canyon or Eiffel Tower and stand politely in front of it for a photo, smiling with arms casually draped around each other. Nice try, people who set up amusing perspective pics by the Leaning Tower of Pisa so it looks the same size as you. We know however that the only thing to do in any photo anywhere is some ridiculous bendy dancer type pose. Helicopter ride? Handstand. Trafalgar Square? Split. Amusingly named shop? Do that dancer leg-in-the-air thing. You know the thing I mean.

Even better if you are with your poler friends and you can create a whole range of poses in one photo while other people trying to take photos look on impatiently. Sorry, we know it’s annoying, but it’s bloody fun.

Not even sorry

We don’t wear underwear

OK we obviously do wear underwear but usually we can’t be arsed with proper undercrackers. We just wear Bad Kitty tops and shorts because they are so comfy, but the good news is that when we DO wear underwear it’s deemed a special occasion and we go all out. Think Sunday Best, sponsored by Victoria’s Secret. Actually this might just be me. Should probably have researched this one a bit better. “Dear strangers, please tell me about your underwear choices”. Which brings us to…

We have totally different boundaries of what is inappropriate

We spend so much time in each other’s company, and in such close proximity, that boundaries can become blurred. While it’s not the case that we just feel entitled to touch people who aren’t comfortable with it, we do spot each other in class and are very much at ease with the human body. Within the industry this translates to conversations which might seem strange but to us are completely normal.  Talking about running away to have babies with Sarah Scott? Totally standard. Convos about your gay friends riding you into next week? Completely OK. One of my pole friends once come to stay and we found ourselves having a conversation while she was on the toilet and I was in the bath. Completely normal. It’s a secret club though – if someone outside of the pole community tried this, they’d find themselves in a not inconsiderable amount of trouble.

We are not delicate little flowers

From your very first pole lesson, you will learn that pole is not easy. Bumps, bruises and scrapes are quite normal. Everyone is different, and we are of course responsible with our safety, but don’t be surprised to see the pole dancer in your life bearing bruises, burns, abrasions and callouses with pride, or even without any awareness whatsoever, so normal do these badges of training become.


We say unusual things

“Can you pass me my foot?”

“Can you just stand there so I don’t die”

“Your arse looks amazing, I want to bite it”

“I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on”

“You need the pole more up your bum crack”

All completely standard, and heard in pole class on a daily basis

We keep odd hours

If we are studio owners, we may make our own hours but these are built around the times that work best for our students. That might be Friday nights or Sunday afternoons or Wednesday lunchtimes, and we have to build our social lives around that. Even for those who aren’t instructors, you will still probably find that pole class is a priority. We might do our best drinking on Wednesday nights, as weekends are often taken up with workshops and masterclasses. If you hang out with a pole dancer, be prepared for your plans to be bumped in favour of a last-minute floorwork masterclass with a pole icon.

We have different ambitions

You might want to learn a new language, or get a promotion, or travel the world. My life would be complete if I could get my toe to touch my head without crying. Different strokes for different folks…