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Pole art has certainly come a long way, and it’s continued to move closer to being recognized as not just a sport, but even an art form. Different corporations and organizations across the world have begun to see pole art as a viable venture, supporting the industry and helping to promote it, and in Portugal, a new festival has just sprouted: the International Pole Art Festival (IPAF). The IPAF is the first of its kind in Portugal, aiming to promote pole dancing as both an art form and a sport, but it didn’t just give everyone a chance to see just how wonderful and captivating pole dancing is – it also gave attendees an avenue to learn more about the sport and even try it out for themselves. The event, which took place from the 27th to the 30th of May, 2015, held a showcase on the first day, where international artists such as Ana Dinis, Sarita Pollerina, Kate Czepulkowski, Alex Shchukin, and Raquel Narciso wowed audiences with their finesse and flexibility, embodying the theme of the festival, which was “Rebirth”. The event was held in the Casino Estoril. Casinos are common venues for events of this nature, as they are arguably among the best choices, as a blog post by Intercasino explains, “Live casinos usually have a festive and pretty active atmosphere. This, more often that not, keeps the gamblers and the people inside awake”. Casino Estoril, in particular, is a casino as well-known for its live shows and concerts as it is for its gaming floor, making it an obvious choice. As was explained by Sara Henriques, an organizer of the event, “This festival aims to bring the best of pole to this beautiful country by the sea!” As such, they also included a workshop that lasted from the 28th to the 30th, where international artists helped train hopeful pole artists in the art, as well as gave tips on how to overcome the challenges faced by those who want to pursue a career in pole dancing. The festival offered those who attended a new way of perceiving pole dancing, especially since it encouraged diversity in its showcase and workshops. “The main idea being to promote creativity, innovation, imagination, and artistic based-pole performances. Creativity has no limits, so we encourage new ways of thinking, perceiving, feeling, questioning and expressing this art.”

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