I wrote an original version of this blog back in 2017, and I recently noticed that it seems to be getting a bit of traction again. Undoubtedly, there is a surge in popularity for the Old School style in pole dancing, which makes my OG heart sing! So, with the renewed interest in the sexy Old School ways, I wanted to give you a new and refreshed overview on what is Old School pole dancing and what are some fine examples that showcase this style.
So just over 6 years from when I wrote the original blog, here are my current thoughts on what differentiates Old School from other styles of pole dancing, as well as a very small selection of some videos from dancers that you may not have heard of. It is by no means a comprehensive list (that could be a PhD thesis) and it is entirely subjective, so please take my opinions with a pinch of salt.
What is the Old School pole dancing style?
Again, disclaimer: this is not a definite answer as to what makes Old School pole dance and is purely subjective based on my 17 years of pole dancing experience (at the time of writing this blog) and personal preference.
Old School pole dancing is all about dancing with the pole (not at it). Circular flowing movement is central to the style, whether you dance on spinny or static pole. In my opinion, some the key technical pole dancing elements that typify the Old School style are: steparounds, pirouettes, clockwork legs, wavy legs, body waves, splits, extended leg lines, a simple but dramatic drop, and then even more splits! In terms of pole tricks, you can expect to see controlled tricks and poses that appear quick and easy to get in and out of, that are held for a length of time that allows the audience to fully drink in and appreciate what the dancer is doing.
The most important element of Old School style is presence. This style is really all about showcasing your powerful and personal sensuality, honestly and authentically. It is not trying to be sexy (‘sexy’ is a highly subjective and slippery construct after all), or simply wearing heels whilst on the pole; the invitation is to slow down, connect with how your body wants to move and flow with the pole and dance like everyone is watching. In other words, having the confidence to take up space and not hide behind a facade of what you think others want you to be.
Bobbi is an icon of pole dancing with years of experience in exotic dance, who is best known for her long legs for days, impeccable fluidity and elegant poise. As well as this, she was a true leader; she was responsible for ‘Bobbi’s’, Australia’s first pole dancing studio (established in 2004) where she trained many dancers who went on to become legends in their own right, as well as the organizer of ‘Miss Pole Dance Australia’ competitions.
Sadly no longer with us, Bobbi passed away suddenly and peacefully in June 2020. However, she continues to inspire today. Her YouTube channel has lots of full length freestyle and performance videos, some of them going as far back as 2007. The video above is a more recent freestyle from 2015.
I have written about Alethea in the original version of this blog post; my respect and admiration for her remains unchanged if not increased, as she continues to evolve and refine her pole dance style. The beautiful filming in black and white adds a layer of mystique and magic to this pole dancing performance from 2011 as Alethea showcases what were her signature moves of that time. She truly is and continues to be the queen of body waves.
Around this time, Alethea was a household name in the pole dancing world with her popular sexy pole and floorwork DVDs, which you can still get the digital downloads from her website. I have personally learned a lot from Alethea (like, a LOT) so I highly recommend studying her style if you have never heard of her.
In my opinion, Rhiannan is perhaps one of the most underrated Old School pole dancers. Based in California, she has plenty of skin in the game; she started as a club dancer in 2002 and now owns Premier Pole studio (which has been on my bucket list to visit for years). Her attention to detail is second to none, she perfectly embodies an honest sensuality with her technically flawless dancing.
Rhiannan aptly describes the Old School pole dancing style as ‘…hypnotically fluid turns and rotations around the pole with endless body movements that seduce not just viewers, but you, as you surrender to your own energetic flow’. Watch her, and then watch again!
Jamie is another pole dancer that I have endless respect for and who I also think does not get enough credit for her contributions to the pole dance community, particularly in the UK. She is a dancer of over two decades with experience in club dancing, and is the owner of Defy Gravity pole dance studio in Wales.
Andi has over 15 years of skin in the game and is also an OG club dancer (and very proud of it!). She keeps the classic movements alive in her fluid and engaging dancing; no one else does a Back Hook spin with such style!
Watch how she really connects her own movement, the audience and with the music from start to finish in this performance; it’s easier said than done and comes from a deep sense of self, and years of dedication and practice.
Other dancers that I highly recommend checking out (in addition to the others on the original blog post):
Beanie The Jet: If you want to see the best example of honest and authentic presence (and legs for days), look no further than Beanie! She milks every movement and imbues it with a rich sense of self.
Estefania Jiménez: She has dedicated years of training and practicing the Old School ways and without question she has the longest legs! Forever flawless and a rock ‘n’ roll bad ass.
Lola Grace: This Aussie poler has been around the pole dance community for a very long time and continues to absolutely smash it when it comes to embodying Old School style!
Doris Arnold: Doris is another dancer with decades of experience and has contributed massively to the pole dance community. I feel that she is a ‘household name’ within the community, but if you’ve not heard of her, make it your business!
Lastly, allow me to blow my own trumpet…
Yes, yes, I know that we say here in Ireland that ‘self praise is no praise’, however I have also learnt that in this day and age it’s important to be proactive in showcasing yourself and to not expect others to do it for you.
I’d like to think of myself as a pole dancer who also embodies the Old School style after 17 years of dedication and ongoing practice. I feel that this performance best showcases my interpretation and embodiment of this style, as well as revealing my sensual self…
If you enjoyed this blog and found it helpful, why not pay it forward by tipping me the cost of a coffee? TIA
Final disclaimer: If you’re a fellow OG poler or Old School Pole Dancer and are not included in this wee list, I apologize in advance for the oversight and ask you to please not take it personally; as I mentioned earlier I do not have the resources to make fully comprehensive blog (that would probably take years to research and compile) ?