photo: Sergey Tashbeyev

UPDATE - Please note that Hawaii Pole Dance is no longer active.

The art of business can sometimes be a tricky role for artists. However, when an artist does go into business it can become such a rewarding move. In July, Pamela Poles, a pole acrobatic extraordinaire who performed at our previous Fringe festivals opened with her business partner their new venture, the Hawaii Pole Dance. Excited to see this growth we wanted to find out more so we spun some fringey questions to Pamela.

How excited are you on your new business, Hawaii Pole Dance?
Excited is a fabulous word. It is intense, like having a child. Happy, afraid, fluctuating between bliss and sheer terror that my shortcomings will get the best of me. Overall, I am completely stoked and this could quite possibly be my most radically life changing move to date.

When did you finally decide on the name? Did you have sleepless nights on deciding your business name? It’s a great name.
Yes, I carried this name for years. I got the idea from a strip club client. I let a person that helped me design the site shoot down the idea of Hawaii Pole Dance (HPD) and I did not revisit the idea for a couple of years. When I first decided to open this business I went real far with a couple other names, registering, purchasing domains etc, etc…(and) when I got shirts printed for my favorite, Aloha Monkey Room, it got shot down completely by a faithful long time student. She was right, from a marketing stand point it was shooting myself in the foot. Funny thing (though) as I struggled and struggled with the name, my business partner suggested Hawaii Pole Dance and the decision was made cause I already spent a couple years holding (onto) that name. I just forgot after no encouragement and negative feedback. Amazing what can happen when one person believes in your idea!!!

With whom are you in business with and how did this all come about?
Phong Tran, my closest friend. He was riding with me every week as we went to pole practice and we shared many meals. He watched what I was going through in regards to pole and then wanting to open a studio for better terms of rehearsal and teaching space. He was planning to open his restaurant. I am not sure what clicked in him but the moment he offered to partner with me, I said yes and told my many other supporters and never looked back.

Can you share some of the challenges you had to deal with in setting up Hawaii Pole Dance?
EVERYTHING!! Particularly at first, it was time management. I accepted that I cannot work a late night job, raise a daughter as a single parent, and open a business in a way that I would feel good about. I quit my job and the challenges now are new frontiers. Before, when I was way over extended with work, everything was stressful, frightening and uncharted territory. I feared drowning with every decision. Now I am starting to get a handle on swimming.

When did you first realize that Pole dancing was for you?
Which style? My favorite is polenastics. I did gymnastics as soon as I could walk but I stopped with injury at about 11 years old. At that time, I wanted to go to the Olympics but the rest of the team were only keen on cheer-leading. Plus the coaches would use insults for encouragement and would physically break us to make our bodies capable. I picked up ’pole dancing" at 18 when I took a job as a stripper. It seemed my best and most realistic option for money and a comfortable life. I had no idea I would fall completely in love with the pole.

Historically, Pole dance has been around for a long time with artists in India and China, for example, that have dedicated a lifetime to this art form. But I know there are still misconceptions about Pole dance so could you briefly tell us the history of Pole dance?
Well, I would not say (that) there are misconceptions, so much as a matter of context and perspective. There is documentation of men performing on poles in circuses in China from over 1,000 years ago, and then there is Mallakhamb (in India) which includes men training their bodies often in a competitive light had been around for at least 8,000 years. Pole ‘dance’ was birthed in America in the early 20th century when Burlesque dancers used the circus tent poles as props. A very common association with pole is the gentlemen’s club where poles became a mainstay as an exotic dancer prop since the 80s. In the early 15th century to this day the Maypole celebrations became popular in Europe where a large group of people would dance around a very large wooden pole. There is also a mating dance that women in African tribes do where they dance around a pole to display fertility and attract a mate. Pole as a competitive sport and fitness apparatus has boomed in the last decade and continues to grow. There are competitions attracting athletes and dancers of extremely varied backgrounds that have become quite popular. The pole dance and fitness studios are now as equally diverse with class offerings for everyone from children to senior citizens. Those are just some of the highlights I researched about the history of pole. All valid, all beautiful, all art.

Where do you see Pole dance go from here? Olympics?
I do not see it going anywhere (from our lives). Olympics, very possible but that may sterilize and remove the art that I have grown to love. I see it taking a path similar to Tango and Ballet. From controversy to completely (being) socially acceptable.

I know there are folks out there keen to try this. What are your business hours?
We opened July 1st 2014 and are now open 7 days a week with the exception of state holidays.

What are some of the benefits from working out at Hawaii Pole Dance?
Expression of soul like any art, strength, flexibility, confidence, improved sex life, and liberation which can be a tool for bonding.

Thank you.
O’ahu Fringe Festival wishes Hawaii Pole Dance much success with their new business venture. For more information and class schedules, please visit Hawaii Pole Dance.

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