10 Reasons to Compete That Have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to Do With Winning

Hi there, I’m Jillian of Pole Geek! I am thrilled to be adding my voice to Pole Sport Organization’s Blog. I love nothing more than hearing from you, the reader, and hope you will read, respond, and keep the discussion going! 

Competing in a pole competition is scary. There, I said it – you are not alone! In fact, you are in the majority if you are a little (or a lot) freaked out by the idea of competing. Trust me, even the most experienced performer gets an extra jolt of jitters when it’s competition time. So what’s different between performing and competing that amps up the angst? WINNING.

Competitions feel like they are ALL about winning and so you heap an immense amount of pressure on top of your (undoubtedly ripped) shoulders to be the BEST, whatever that means…. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you take winning out of the equation and focus on all the awesomeness you will gain from the experience alone, competing can be a transformative experience. This isn’t to say you can’t want to win or train with the desire of medaling in mind, but that by putting the journey ahead of the end result you’ll end up with a worthwhile experience no matter what the score sheet says.

Here are 10 Reasons to Compete That Have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to Do With Winning!

1. Sharing Pole Dance with Friends and Family

Competitions are a great opportunity to share your craft with the ones you love!  It is an especially perfect venue for the pole shy/confused who may feel intimidated entering clubs or even a pole studio. It’s hard to remember when living in the pole dance “bubble” that not all understand the art and athleticism that go into our craft. So a familiar setting of competition is easier for the uninitiated to grasp. Invite your friends, your family, and your grandma who shakes her head at the “stripper” classes you take because everyone in you’re life should witness all the hard work and dedication you have put into the art you love!

2. The Sense of Accomplishment from Achieving Your Goal

Is there anything better than accomplishing a goal you set out for yourself? I don’t think so! When you commit yourself to a competition, you commit yourself to seeing an entire routine through to fruition. That takes a lot of work and determination! From initial inspiration, to choreographing your pole passes, to eating right and getting enough sleep, through adding the final rhinestones to your costume. When you compete you are gaining more than just a single performance, you are gaining an entire pole journey and all the pride that comes with it.

3. Take Your Pole Practice to New Heights

Feel like you are stalling in your pole progress? Stuck in a rut? Well, push yourself to compete and use it as an opportunity to add new elements of performance and tricks to your repertoire. Nothing kicks your pole practice into high gear like choreographing a competition piece! You will quickly find that what is perfect for your music and story aren’t always so bright and shiny for you. This will force you to take on the challenges you’ve been avoiding. But you will also discover hidden strength and skill you would have never known had you not pushed yourself for the competition.

4. Be Inspired

We can become isolated in our home studios, never leaving the comfort of well-worn pole combos and the ease of our favorite freestyle songs. But if you never leave the nest you’ll never see how big and awe-inspiring the universe of pole truly is. Stepping out in this wide wonderful world allows you to experience new pole styles, interpretations, influences, and expand on all you thought pole could be. I guarantee you will see at least one routine that you must absolutely learn, another that puts a brand new spin on a song you love, and even another that just blows your mind so completely that you tear up. Fun fact: I teared up at least 3 times at PPC (very respectable and inconspicuous tears, I promise!).  What’s more is you get to meet these polers backstage! See first hand how they prepare and warm-up. Get up close and personal with costumes, make-up and hair styling. Ask questions – learn how your favorite performer brought their vision to life. The possibilities of pole are limitless and there is no better way to experience that than at a competition.

5. Get Performance Experience

Much like the way competitions push you to achieve bigger and better pole tricks, getting performance experience will take your pole practice to a whole new level! But unlike #3 on the list, you can’t practice this in a studio; the only way to do it is to dive in headfirst. Yes, it might be scary getting up in front of a crowd, but know that at a pole competition there is still the same pole community – the one that supports its members no matter their skill level or performance ability. Everyone in the audience wants you to succeed and it is a safe environment in which to dip your toes into the world of performing.

6. Learn From Your Mistakes

This part can be scary, I know, but getting feedback from judges is SO beneficial! If you are like me and want to improve yourself as a performer and the quality of your performance as a whole, getting an audience member’s perspective is invaluable. You might get feedback from instructors or fellow polers, but they aren’t necessarily coming from an objective place. The notes from judges can make you aware of issues you never knew existed, as well as, highlight talent you never knew you had. Use those notes as a tool in your training for even more polished and excellent routines. Just make sure to take what the judges note with a grain of salt, what works for them doesn’t necessarily work for you. Use what you can to elevate your dance and lose the rest. Know that at the end of the day you pole dance because it makes you happy, so keep the joy and know that judges notes are only a tool.

7. Bring Your Entire Vision to Life with Costumes, Make Up, and Hair

Having an opportunity to craft a complete look might seem small in comparison to the other reasons listed, but I promise you this is a bigger benefit of competing than you may think. First off, unless you are a professional performer it is rare that you ever have the opportunity to completely transform your look. This is a chance to fully lose yourself in your character! Are you an evil fairy, a broken down doll, or a sexy robot? You’ll be bringing them to life for the audience not only with your routine, but from the moment you walk on stage. Second, this is a way to see yourself differently. Use a competition to show off parts of yourself you usually keep private or are too shy to share. Armed in full costume, you are whoever you want to be. And at the absolute very least a competition is a great excuse to get the stilettos or booty shorts you’ve been eying!

8. Make New Pole Buddies

Nothing brings polers together than the shared nerves and excitement brought on by performing! Meet fellow polers and pole idols backstage where you can cheer each other on, commiserate in your bumps and bruises, and borrow hairspray when you discover you forgot to pack it. You are getting the opportunity to interact with polers from all over your region, country, or the world – how incredible is that?! Take advantage, meet as many different polers are you can, ask questions, and learn from everyone’s experiences.  You’ll never know when you might just meet your BPFF (Best Pole Friend Forever)!

9. Be a Pole Role Model

One of my absolute favorite things about the world of pole is that everyone comes from vastly different backgrounds. By far the majority of polers lack any prior education in dance and gymnastics or has experience performing. We are just regular folks who found an activity we love and want to share it with the world. From the outside some might think we are not strong enough, or not young enough, or not small enough, or not whatever enough, but every time you walk proudly on to that stage you are proving that athletes and dancers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds. There is no such thing as “not enough”. You are setting an example for the “polecurious” sitting in the audience too afraid to take their first class or the home poler too intimated to get on stage. When you compete you are inspiring those around you to chase their passion too.

10. Challenge Expectations, Redefine Pole

Pole dance is something different to everyone. The non-pole world has only begun to start noticing us and tends to equate us purely with stripping. And while we in the community know that pole can be so many things, it seems like each and every one of us has a very specific take on what that is and where we would like pole to go. So what is pole to you? Is it about strength and power moves? Is it about self-discovery and expression? Is it about body rolls and sky-high stilettos? You decide and a competition is the perfect place to share it with the world. Tell your story, we want to experience it!

Why are you competing? What awesome reasons are there to compete that I haven’t listed?

We want to know!