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Three Burlesque Dance Moves that Every Poler Should Know with Bad Kitty USA

New Post with Bad Kitty USA! Learn three classic burlesque moves that you can incorporate into pole routines and choreo.

Video of Classic Burlesque Moves!

Pole’s heritage comes from diverse sports and dance mediums and shares a common history with burlesque dance. The Burlesque dance in the United States began with hurly-burly girls of the 1860s, dancers and performers who provided entertaining social commentary while performing various theater skills in provocative clothing. In the buttoned-up culture of the Victorian era the idea of scantily clad women expressing bawdy opinions through theatrics catapulted women out of the traditional gender roles of demure and obedient wives. Both men and women showed up in throngs to experience the troupes of skilled entertainers ridiculing upper class mentality, society and culture. By the 1900s the Vaudeville circuit began, allowing burlesque performers to follow an organized circuit of theaters.

As World War I raged, Vaudeville incorporated elements of Jazz music and the liberated dance style of the Flapper era. By the late 1930s, Vaudeville performances transitioned into the art of strip tease. A burlesque show had a master of ceremonies, two comics and up to six strip tease artists. The careers of many were made, such as Mae West, Gypsy Rose Lee and Jackie Gleason. Burlesque carried on into the 1950s.

Coming back to modern pole, let’s reconnect with our burlesque roots and examine three classic burlesque dance moves that every pole dancer should know.

The Shimmy

Jazz culture filled the need for entertainment in World War I. The Shimmy is attributed to Bee Palmer who danced with the Ziegfeld Follies beginning in 1918, though likely the origin is from the African American Jazz dance culture. The move was popular amongst the flapper generation of the 1920s and was even banned from certain dance clubs for being too promiscuous.

How It’s Done:

The shimmy requires the isolation of a single body part in a rapid shaking and pulsing way, generally the chest or hips or booty. Engage the abs, but keep the area that is shimming loose. For a shoulder shimmy, loosen the shoulders and shake the shoulders forward and back in an opposite rhythm gradually increasing the speed. For a hip shimmy, keep the core engaged but loosen the hips. Push the hips forward and back with opposite sides in an opposite rhythm. Increase the speed when comfortable. Shimmies can be short, staccato pops or a lengthy movement.


Add the Shimmy into dance sequences to spice up a routine. The shimmy can be utilized during a walking transition from one to pole to other.

The Bump and Grind

The bump and grind hails from the early days of burlesque and even earlier in belly dance. In performance, bumps can accent a musical beat and of course the grind was developed to titillate the audience.

The Bump

Begin with the knees soft. Shift the weight into the left foot, lifting the heel of the right foot. Simultaneously pop the right hip out and shift the weight into the right foot. This movement should be fast and have snap. A common cue is “imagine you have your hands full and you are trying to shut a car door with your hips.” Work on both sides, varying the tempo.

The Grind

The grind is commonly known as the hip circle in pole. Soften the knees, engage the core and move the hips around in a circle. Keeping the legs together gives a feminine quality; wide legs equal a more animalistic approach.


The bump and grind can add a vintage style to a routine. Dance a grind then a bump, employ two bumps and two grinds. The numerous combinations offer a great opportunity to play with tempo, accents and basic dance moves. The bump and grind teaches musicality in beginning routines.

The Little Egypt

Fahreda Mazar Spyropoulos was the belly dancer who went by the name Little Egypt and is most associated as the greatest "Hoochie-Coochie" dancer. In the 1880s and 1890s, she toured the United States and Europe and played the Worlds’ Fair in Chicago, introducing the United States to belly dance. Thomas Edison filmed her in 1896 for his work in motion picture technology.

How It’s Done:

In modern belly dance the little Egypt is similar to the basic Egyptian. The little Egypt is a swivel step that presents a hip bump forward. A dancer can walk or remain stationary. Start in a hip-width stance and shift the weight into the left foot as the right foot steps forward onto the ball of the foot. Bump the hip forward, step back and repeat with the other side. Keep the core engaged for control.