Maypole dance, which dates as far back as the 12th Century, is a pagan fertility celebration. One version was performed around a wooden pole, as dancers twisted ribbons around the pole as they danced.
Mallakhamb – English translation “pole gymnastics”, is an Indian sport where tricks are performed on a wooden pole. It also possibly dates back to the 12th Century, and was revived in the 19th Century.
The pole used in Chinese Pole more closely resemble the poles used in modern day pole dance. However, these poles are often covered in rubber to allow performers to “stick” better. These two sports are generally male-dominated.
According to Sheila Kelley’s book, “The S-Factor,” pole dancing in the West started in the 1920’s when the middle pole of a circus sideshow tent became the “dancing pole.” She also says that pole dancing moved into clubs in the 1950’s as burlesque became more accepted. Sheila credits the 1980’s for making strip clubs popular in the United States and Canada. However, “the earliest recorded pole dance was in 1968 with a performance by Belle Jangles at Mugwump strip joint in Oregon.” Quote from ezinearticles.
Fawnia Dietrich opened the first exotic dance school in Canada in 1994. Sheila Kelley followed suit by opening multiple studios in the United States after training in exotic dance for a movie released in 2000.
More recently the term “pole dance” became “pole fitness” and it became a competitive sport. Local competitions are held and you can also receive Springbok Colours, or compete at SA Championships and Word Championships.
Since Pole Fitness is still a very young sport, there are constantly new moves created by individuals pushing their bodies to the limits.