Pole-dancing festival to shed sleazy image

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IT was once considered a sleazy pursuit practised by scantily-clad dancers and confined to strip clubs and seedy bars.

But now the “sport” of pole dancing has gone mainstream and a glittering international convention of the industry’s top ambassadors is swinging its way to the Capital.

Deborah Roach 'is a celebrated 'pole artist despite only having one arm. Pictture: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Deborah Roach 'is a celebrated 'pole artist despite only having one arm. Pictture: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

From Australia to Norway, scores of pole dancing’s best performers will be schooling crowds on the fitness benefits of the unusual hobby – with even children invited to attend.

Hundreds of would-be dancers are expected to visit the maiden Scottish Pole Dance and Fitness Convention next month in a bash boasting a three-times Miss Germany winner and star performer Deborah Roach, who clinched gold in a major contest held in Hong Kong last year.

Australian Ms Roach, who eclipsed countless rivals to win the international competition despite having only one arm, will lead workshops demonstrating the art of pole dancing.

Convention organiser Anne Goswell, of Goes Well Dance Fitness, has been involved in pole dancing for eight years and said the art has seen a resurgence as a fitness discipline despite the stigma that once surrounded it.

She said: “People nowadays are more inclined to associate it with fitness rather than the types of pole dancing in clubs.

“The credentials are about qualifications and judging competitions. There is always going to be that part of the industry but now I hope people can see it from our angle. Women love to feel sexy and there are more categories for pole dancing than ever before.”

“There won’t be any scantily-clad women there – it’s all about the fitness. There will be twerking [the provocative dance made famous by pop star Miley Cyrus], but that’s not open to children.”

Among the activities on show is the specialist Chinese pole – an energetic take on the standard pole dancing which sees athletes clamber up two large parallel poles and perform an array of circus-like moves.

Theo Robertson, a Chinese pole expert, is making his convention debut in Scotland. “This will be my first time at a convention and all the people I have taught so far have been early 20s to 30s,” he said.

“It’s going to be massive, with people from all different backgrounds and experience. It will be amazing having that much experience in one place from different countries. It will give people the chance to try it out.”

The convention runs from April 18-20 at the Crags Community Centre.