Updated: Feb 24, 2019
Looking back at pole over the last ten years, the sport has grown in a million different directions and thankfully, so has pole clothing. As Bad Kitty® celebrates ten years in the business of making pole and aerial clothing, a quick glimpse at the pole clothing options in 2008 shows just how far pole attire has come. Poling in 2008 involved a lot of unexplored frontiers. First, we had no clue where pole was going except that Felix Cane’s 2008 Miss Pole Dance Australia YouTube video was mind blowing and required serious analysis on a computer during every pole class, because no one used WIFI on a cell phone. Second, shoulder mounts and butterflies were top competition moves if you could find a competition. Third, finding pole clothing was a test in futility that one had to participate in, in order to do the sport.
In 2008, discovering the need for clothing went something like this: flip upside down, realized that lady bits are in other student’s faces, decide to find official pole shorts, oh wait, no one makes shorts with crotch coverage and cute tops that hold the boobs. Coverage was necessary, but official pole clothing had not been created. One had to get creative to find pole clothing.
As a nod toward the exotic roots of pole many a poler in 2008 tried clothing made for strippers. The pluses were the tininess of the clothing gave lots of room for skin contact on the pole and the fabrics were fun. However, one was reminded of the tiny clothing, usually at unfortunate times like in a chopper, and it was clear that strippers didn’t care if the va-jay-jay popped out. In a pole workout class in a gym, people cared. It was decided that strippers and stripper clothing had a different goal. The polers who saw pole as a gymnastic workout and underground sport needed more functional clothing. It was hard to concentrate on caterpillar if you bits were always out.
At first swimsuits seemed like a great idea, the fabric was breathable, had range of motion and you could find cute matching sets. However, the second a straddle happened all hell broke loose, in the form of nips and vagina. Most of class was spent readjusting tops and bottoms for coverage. It was quickly discovered that most swimsuits were designed for lounging at the beach not for gymnastics.
Even in 2008, we wanted to legitimize pole as a sport and buying athletic shorts seems liked one route to follow. Many hours were spent combing the sporting good stores for volleyball shorts, cheerleading shorts and even spandex bike shorts. The fabrics were respectable; however the cuts were often unattractive and frequently one had to roll up shorts to get skin contact.
The hot yoga explosion was heating up as this was pre-Bikram scandal, and most of the shorts made for hot yoga in 2008 were too long for serious pole. However, the fabrics were breathable, stretchy and hygienic. What hurt the most was the price tag, the few companies making yoga shorts were charging an arm-and-a-leg for spandex underwear.
Shirt over shorts
Built-in tennis and golf skirts were not only cute but meant for sporting. This seemed like a genius idea at the time, one could wear sport shorts and have a cute skirt. This worked well in a level one class until pole sits and inversions. The ineffectiveness of the skirt was often discovered mid-performance when many a poler almost lost her life to her skirt getting caught between her thigh skin and the pole.
Leotards were not a thing in 2008. First of all, the full coverage fabric didn’t allow for belly and side skin and leg hangs were chief moves that one had to accomplish in order to conquer the 30 moves in the pole universe. Many of us were too fixated on making stripper clothing work at this point, however we did order dance shorts and glittery sports bras online from dance supply companies. We looked like 14-year olds about to do a jazz performance at a local competition but dance clothing had range of motion fabrics.
We didn’t know you could do pole barefoot, seriously no one had never seen anyone perform pole barefoot. The few studios in existence didn’t sell pole shorts or tops, but always had mountains of shoes for sale. You bought Pleaser or Ellie and everyone had at least ten pairs of shoes ranging from white thigh highs to clear seven-inch heels.
The day that Bad Kitty released the first pair of true pole shorts was possible one of the most important days in the history of poling. Trying to find appropriate pole clothing in 2008 took dedication and the willingness to try and fail miserably. Not having to test out pole shorts before class or a performance is life changing. The right clothing for a sport allows for participants to concentrate on the sport not if the clothing is working.
In 2008, pole was about doing a workout that had closer links to exotic dance and yes, moves from the strip club. Many women started the sport because they wanted to feel sexy or learn to be sexy. There is an element of fun in being risqué, there is confidence to be had in learning a hip circle and feeling sexy and exotic. For many women, naughtiness and full sexiness was empowering and enlightening.
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