The Impact of a Global Pandemic on the Pole Dance Community

All members of the Pole Fitness community – professional athletes, instructors, performers, fitness enthusiasts, suppliers and business owners – have been affected in some way by COVID-19. For many, the effect on small businesses has been devastating, with studios the world over closing shop indefinitely.

We are a community known for its resilience, togetherness, adaptability and positive outlook. Our members have rallied together to inject new energy into the industry despite the odds, finding new ways to keep up the momentum. You might be surprised to know just how much positivity and new developments we’ve been able to squeeze out of a bad situation!

Out of the Studio and Into the Home

In 2020 most studios closed and virtual classes became popular, leading to a massive increase in the demand for poles designed to be used in the home. So great was the demand that home pole equipment is still mostly out of stock around the world. It goes to show how the drive to continue pole dancing lives on!

Even though distance-based classes and online tutorials are possible, students are still holding back on spending money on training.

What the community has always loved is meeting people from all walks of life and making friends. Suddenly, this was no longer an option.

A happy side effect? Many people were stuck at home looking for new interests to keep them occupied and active. That meant that people who had never even considered pole dancing before now are keen to try. For existing students, a whole new world of trainers opened up online, keeping them interested and motivated.

Conventions and Competitions

PoleCon 2020

The International Pole Convention, PoleCon, is an annual celebration of the pole dance/pole fitness community. The event – held in a new location every year – showcases performances, vendors, workshops and seminars.

PoleCon 2020 was due to take place in New Orleans in August last year, but it was cancelled. We had heavy hearts because the event provides a big ‘family reunion’ for our community. A difficult decision was made to take the event online, as the first-ever purely virtual PoleCon.

Queue virtual PoleCon 2020. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce the community to the industry’s first trade association, led by Colleen Jolly, the founder and owner of PoleCon. The International Pole Industry Association, IPIA, was founded to support the people running the businesses that allow us to have a community.

The virtual event also made it easier for people who usually can’t travel – due to cost, time, distance and family responsibilities – to join a PoleCon event, some for the first time ever.

Attendance was lower than the live events, but those who did attend were thankful for the opportunity to connect with old friends. Attendees were impressed overall, with comments like: “It was a perfect mix of Business and Fun. I came away energized, full of new ideas for my studio, and proud of how our community grows and pulls through together.”

At Dushko International, we were particularly impressed by a live crossing to a captivating performance at a studio in Australia. We loved seeing how a virtual event could expose more people worldwide. This is a performance we would never have seen were it not for this virtual event!

People joined the festivities from all over the world, including the US, Mexico, UK, Poland, Rwanda, New Zealand and more.

PoleCon 2021

The PoleCon team is working hard to bring us information on whether the August 26-29 event will go ahead in New Orleans. Fingers and toes are crossed for this 10th live anniversary event!

PoleCon has shared on their Facebook Page that the team is still observing the situation and COVID-19 laws in New Orleans regarding gatherings. The official decision on whether to carry the event live or not will be made by early June.

World Pole & Aerial Championships

And now for the big time: The World Pole Championships (WPSC). This prestigious event was created by the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) in 2012 – and is currently being considered as an Olympic Sport. We’re talking major league and serious athletes.

We can’t talk about the effects of COVID-19 on the pole community without emphasizing the pandemic’s devastating impact on these top-notch athletes. The World Pole Weekend  – held annually ­– is part of a network of over 25+ competitions with over 5,000 athletes competing for the coveted title of national champion and qualification to the Worlds.

The IPSF suspended their 2020 season, but the IPSF World Pole and Aerial Championships 2021 will be held virtually. There’s no doubt that the event will be incredible.

There are a number of exciting, positive outtakes to the virtual championship event, with some surprising benefits! The competition has now opened up to so many more athletes and supporters. Athletes who previously were unable to travel due to financial or other reasons can now take part.

One could say that the competition is now truly a World Championship, with as much global representation as possible. After a difficult year, an event like this gives athletes and supporters something very special to work towards, without health concerns.

The Overall Impact

Closed businesses; lost clients; small business dreams ended; insufficient support for women and minorities. COVID-19 may have struck us hard, but it has revealed the strength of the pole community. Thank you to all genders, shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities and fitness levels for believing in pole with all your love and support.

Let us all learn, share and grow with anyone who chooses to be part of our community.

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