Every year the Pole Fitness Society has a showcase event to give all their members the chance to demonstrate their skills, whether expert or novice, and for an audience to be enthralled. This year, I was invited along to critique the pole-flavoured fun.

Writing angry reviews is always easier than pleasant ones, if only because there are a finite number of ways of saying “It was awesome”; but I’ll be damned if the Pole Fitness showcase wasn’t… awesome. It could be I’m going soft, but there’s something brilliantly exciting about seeing some apparently impossible gymnastic feats performed on a metal stick.

All I knew going into this was what I’d leaned from my interview with the President and Treasurer, and a few photos of their past exploits so forgive me if—as usual—I review this from a purely entertainment-based standpoint rather than on the technical expertise. I further apologise to the good people at SUPS for my total ignorance of the names of any of the incredible stunts.

Splits hanging from pole

Photo Credit to Nick Jones of SUPS (the other one)

One of the things that really stood out for me was that the start of the show; consisting of the newer members’ routines; was just as exciting as the rest. Sure the moves were less insane and there were nerves aplenty, but there’s a certain sense of apprehension that the performer might fall off and break themselves at any time that meant when they pulled off a move successfully there was this brilliant atmosphere of… celebration I guess (and relief!) with rapturous applause. You really felt like you were rooting for them.

The presence of two males in the early section was also welcome and performer Max’s routine looked particularly good for what was clearly a first time show, with lots of spinning and some impressive upside-down bits.

Upside down stretchy pole move

Photo Credit: Nick Jones

Another highlight was sixth-month member Sarah’s performance to Addicted to You, which showed off some impressive flexibility as well as a real sense of timing with the music. I recall from my WHATSOC article that different people like to perform in different ways and that was definitely noticeable: some routines were much more flowing and dancey while others focussed more on the individual moves and reminded me more of a gymnastics routine. It was nice to have a mix.

Inverted straddle thing

Photo Credit: Nick Jones

On the subject of dancing, Cecilia and president Louisa did a gripping two-person routine to I Can’t Dance— chosen because (according to the announcer) neither of them think they can dance. Well that turned out to be a dirty lie as they pulled off a fantastic doubles performance with some impressive shows of strength; at one point with Cecilia supporting Louisa horizontally from the pole by holding her under her neck; but which also worked very well as a dance routine and fit the music sublimely.

The superhuman strength continued unabated in the second half, with performances by Claire and Katie being notable for their deliberately slow sections. Try to imagine maneuvering yourself around, upside down, very very slowly, and holding your weight on (say) one arm.  Now try imagining that while making it look really effortless.

The show finale was this sort of skill ramped up to 11 with a display from Zorena: a performer with a penchant for collecting championships in multitudes of competitions. There were splits and spins, poses held almost straight out horizontally from the pole, effortless displays of flexibility and fluidity, and (I’m told) the whole thing was improvised too. All I have written in my notes of the evening is “Wow”.

Inverted splits

Photo Credit: Nick Jones

Was the evening perfect? Well not quite. The announcer seemed a bit clumsy and unfamiliar with the show; but that may have been a last minute assignment; and there were a few minor technical issues with music and pole setup.

My biggest criticism though is that it’s absolutely criminal how undersold this event was. I would LOVE for next year’s showcase to be a sell-out or even run over several days. If you enjoy any kind of physical spectacle you will thoroughly enjoy these performances and as long as I have to wait a whole year to see this again, maybe this is an angry review after all.

Did you see the pole showcase? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

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