Chris Rock once said that a father’s only job is to “keep our daughter’s off the pole.” But that could change if pole dancing, an activity once restricted to strippers, becomes an Olympic sport. Don’t laugh, there’s actually a growing movement determined to make it a reality. The International Pole Sport Federation in Salt Lake City, Utah already has over 6000 signatures on their petition, asking the Olympic committee to add pole dancing as an official event at the 2012 summer games in London. Federation president and pole fitness instructor KT Coates doesn’t think it’s such a strange idea. “The word ‘gymnastic’ derives from the Greek ‘Gynos’ which translates to ‘naked,’” she explains. “Gymnastics was created by the Greeks, who believed it encouraged the aesthetic appreciation of the body. Is this any different to pole dancing?” Not everybody agrees with her logic, even other pole dancers. Vanessa McCowen, who teaches pole dancing at Labfitness in Dublin, Ireland, worries that competitive pole dancing at the Olympics would “take away from the more expressive side of it.” What, she asks, will become of the sexy pole-dancing costumes? “Could they wear high heels in the Olympics?” she wonders.
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the January 20th, 2012 issue of the New York Times Magazine.)