Student group spotlight: Poler Bears

Meet the very first pole dancing team in the Ivy League! Since arriving to the clubbin’ scene in 2006, the Poler Bears have grown into a team of over 20 students with four corporate sponsors. This fall, 100 students (!) tried out for the team. Quickly gaining momentum, the Poler Bears have made great strides on campus, trying to eliminate the stigma, address the preconceived notions, and create a discussion around pole dancing, all while promoting self-expression among students. Ten things you should know about the Poler Bears and pole dancing after the jump.

1. These students were not AP Varsity Pole Dancers in high school. Do you know of any high schools that have pole dancing teams? Exactly. For this reason, most members of the Poler Bears start pole dancing in college. Many of them have had experience in dance, gymnastics, or circus arts, but pole dancing creates a new outlet for physical expression in a fun way. After all, what better place to try something new than college?

2. They do a lot of cool events. For those of you who attended AEPi’s “Body Chem” homecoming weekend (waiting in line outside counts), what you saw twirling around those poles were not life-size strands of DNA, but Brown’s very own Poler Bears. The Poler Bears participate in a number of events each year, including two big shows each year and performances at frat parties, and are involved in community efforts that champion self-esteem.

3. There will be a Poler Bears Halloween show. Sunday, October 28th. 7 p.m. Alumni Hall. Be there. It will only cost you a whopping one dollar, and it will be an awesome show!

4. Pole dancing is all about self-expression. Unlike other sports, where there is a tangible definition of “good,” pole dancing encourages you to abandon your inhibitions and embrace being you. Some pole dancers choose to express themselves through a Britney Spears song, while others might prefer to jam to something more low-key. Because pole dancing is a combination of many art forms, people come to the sport with different approaches and perspectives.

5. You do not have to take your clothes off to be a Poler Bear. Stripping and pole dancing are not synonymous. The Poler Bears do not take off their clothes while they pole dance; however, they recognize the beauty of self-expression and respect whatever people choose to do in their own time and space.

6. The were featured in the NY Times. The Poler Bears were featured in an article written about different types of student clubs around the country. The article mentions that the Poler Bears have been described as “’psychedelic and silly, muscular and meta-performative, abstract and out there… and yes, it can be unabashedly, gracefully, palm-sweatingly, heart-poundingly sexy as well.’” Read the article here!

7. Guys are in the Poler Bears, too. When we typically think of pole dancers, we might often assume they are female, but the Poler Bears have some pretty awesome dudes. Obviously, this is clearly the only instance on campus where Brown students fight gender norms (just kidding). These guys bring diverse skill sets to the team, including circus and dance experience.

8. Due to the housing crunch, the Poler Bears have lost their practice space. While this is happening to many clubs, it is especially unfortunate for the Poler Bears—as a club that welcomes and trains beginners, it needs to make sure that its cubs will be able to sustain the club when the upperclassmen graduate.

9. Pole dancing is becoming more mainstream. Although this may be a hamster’s worst nightmare, it’s pretty awesome for the Poler Bears. Within the past ten years, pole dancing has become increasingly popular, leading to the formation of the International Pole Dance Fitness Association. Groups are also trying to make pole dancing an Olympic sport. As pole dancing becomes more popular, people will become more comfortable with it and the sport will gain more legitimacy.

10. The Poler Bears have raised interesting dialogue on campus. People are not quite sure what to make of pole dancing on campus. The Poler Bears think that’s pretty cool.  By promoting dialogue, they are, in essence, de-stigmatizing an activity of self-expression.

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