- Maëlys Renaud
Bridging sustainability and pole dance at the International Pole Dance Convention
A convention like no other
PoleCon 2022, the annual International Pole Dance Convention, took place early June in Atlanta and gathered hundreds of pole dancers and major players in the pole dance industry. Sprawled out there were dozens of booths (pole wear, gears brands, pole retreats, jewelry etc.), about a hundred performances, tons of workshops, thematic panels and seminars. What an incredible experience to be a part of! I grew up going to professional conventions with my father. I have always been inspired by how he managed his small businesses (in Brittany, France) knowing that he stopped school before reaching high school. I believe he wanted to expose me to the professional culture and to broaden my horizons by going to: nautical and boat fairs, international trade shows for animal production, tourism conferences, trade fairs for roller shutters, gates and sun protection (there is a story behind all of them!). PolCon 2022 was by far the most fun professional convention I have ever been to!
I went to my first chair dance class, learned about exercises to get better pointed toes, and attended an insightful panel with queer polers working in different branches of the industry. I'll never forget the countless strong, flowy, fierce, sensual, fun performances I witnessed. The convention truly celebrated the diversity of the pole dance and the pole fitness community. In that regard, it is in my opinion one of the most diverse and welcoming communities that I have ever encountered. Shout out to the Black Girls Pole Show for bringing an incredible amount of energy to the stage!
“I didn’t know you could associate pole dance and environmentalism!”
I would like to thank every pole dancer and pole dance business owner that I met over the four days for their curiosity, active listening, questions, and for sharing their stories and awesome initiatives with me. I believe that we can learn from each other and that this is only the beginning of a bigger journey.
I shared the recently launched platform www.poleforplanet.com and received a wide range of reactions. Some attendees were surprised by the approach, and others were really curious to know more about sustainable lifestyle and positive climate actions.
At the first lunch, I met with Jolene Rivera. She is the manager of Tropik Pole PR, the first pole dance studio in Puerto Rico. She told me about a recent twerk workshop that she organized, the proceeds of which went to a non-profit dedicated to the reforestation of the island. I think that this is a wonderful way to come together as a community to give back to our land! Later that day, I bumped into Jehan IZ, event organizer and owner of The Stage Global, a Circus Arts school. It turns out we performed together at Rise the Night 2020 - known as the SuperBowl of the pole dance industry! We discussed the feasibility of organizing zero waste live shows. Can you tell I’m excited?
I also met with Agata, who came all the way from Poland. She is the soul and founder of the brand Sway Polewear: the most eco-conscious pole dance wear brand in the industry to date. We instantly connected! I look forward to featuring her, and her vision for creating a sustainable brand. In the meantime, you can head to their website to discover their sustainability roadmap.
I have never met so many pole dancers at once! We had diverse and inspiring discussions, which I will share in my blog posts.
How I brought sustainability practices to the pole dance discussions
I would like to thank the organizer Colleen Jolly and her team for the opportunity to give a 30 minute talk How to Grow into an Environmentally Conscious Pole Dancer. I first shared about what I believe drove me on this path. At age 5 I witnessed the sinking of the tanker Erika off the coast of Southern Brittany - where I grew up - which resulted in a slick black coat of 20,000 tons of oil that severely damaged the local ecosystem. Speaking up and sharing my beliefs with the pole dance community at PoleCon 2022 was a real joy. I believe every industry, every community, has the power to ignite change. In a second part I gave the pole dance studio owners, the event organizers, instructors, pole brands and practitioners tools and ideas to take home and implement in their local pole environment. There was so much to say and I have so many ideas, 30 minutes wasn't enough. I'm excited to share more!
Lastly I believe the next PoleCon edition can take effective actions to create a more sustainable gathering. And we will do it all together! Over the next months, I will share more about how to reduce events’ environmental footprint, promote zero waste, and give back to the planet! Stay tuned.
Visit www.poleforplanet.com and the Manifesto Series page to find out how pole dance and sustainability fit together.
Were you at PoleCon 2022 this year? What was your favorite part? Do you plan to attend next year? What are the eco-conscious initiatives you'd like to see?
PoleCon's website and instagram.