Pole Con was EPIC and the aftermath has been tremendous. There have been two reviews and a statement that came out as posts on Facebook. We are reposting them here on UnitedPoleArtists.com for the purpose of keeping record. After all, UPA wants to preserve our history and keep track of our growth as an industry, a community. Below is a review by Nia Burkes and one by Philip Deal and a statement by event producer and owner, Colleen Jolly. And at the bottom is the video of AMD’s performance. By Nia Burks A Short Review of Pole Con 2015 Let me get straight to the point: Colleen Jolly’s execution of International Pole Convention 2015 did nothing short of make history in the pole industry. The level decorum and dignified enthusiastic acceptance—which did not once waiver throughout the entire weekend—has not only set a new bar for how pole demands to be treated by the world at large, but also serves as a shining example of how we should treat each other within this industry. Not one aspect of this community or industry was situated or implicated as second class or ranking as “less than” according to a false construct of a hierarchy based in fear or agenda that I know most of us have experienced in the past and that many of us perpetuate. Equal representation and love was the name of the game; a powerful political statement that dares each and every one of us to follow her lead with a open mind and pure heart. From the powerful presentation of the Black Girls Pole Showcase, to amazingly talented plus size dancers at the Dangerous Curves Showcase, to the gender bending theatrics of Men Of Pole, feats of strength games, Pole Sport Organization Champions event, doubles, Up and Coming Stars, and ISPF Champs, and unprecedented fearlessness of the Sexy Pole Showcase, Pole Con 2015 ran the gamut of race, class, gender, sexuality, sizeism, and ability elitism, thus challenging our perceptions of who we are as a community and placing EVERY poler on the same stage and doing so without implying rank or importance through time slot placement in the weekend program. Pole Con 2015 managed to bring this community together into one place and one stage without situating a medal at the center of purpose, thus challenging the notion that there is a “righteous” or “correct” way to pole and that pitting us against one another is the way to determine that righteousness. The meaning of this action suggest that we all belong, that it doesn’t matter if you’re large, small, old, young, trickster or just starting out, man, woman, gender variant, sexual poler, athletic poler, modern contemporary poler, stripper, classically trained, or any combination of these, YOU ARE WELCOME IN THIS COMMUNITY. The Free Workshops and Seminar ranged from academic, to funny, to sexy, to athletic, to scientific, to business/economic oriented. The vibe in each of the workshops I attended was positive and open, no doubt a very present transfer of the positive energy that Colleen went into Pole Con attempting to create. In my two talks (Coaching Plus Size Athletes with Roz Mays, and Pole Dance Studios and Roots in Strip Clubs), I felt the genuine love in the form of support and insightful questions in a space that was safe and free of judgement, rejuvenating my energy and confidence in that which is important to me in this community (sex work advocacy and acceptance and size diversity, for the motherfucking win, yall). The location—New Orleans—allowed for every attendee of Pole Con 2015 to kick back in the Big Easy after the convention closed for the day. This was my first time in New Orleans, and I must say, the choice to host Pole Con 2015 in New Orleans was genius, as that town reflects the same positive and open energy that I felt at the convention. The cities immensely genuine positivity and determination to overcome struggle in the face of adversity after Katrina, functions, in my mind, as yet another overwhelming lesson in acceptance and love. Colleen’s choice to specifically support the New Orleans economy sets a mark. Hang out with the underdog. Hear their story. Love. Take your bullshit and leave it at home because there are more important things to worry about—-like being cool and not a douche. Studio owners, Competition organizations, and businesses, listen up and pay attention to what just happened. The precedent that Pole Con 2015 has just set…well, it has been set. Its here. This community now knows what it feels like to be equally represented, loved, and accepted no matter who or what kind of dancer/athlete they are. Follow suit. After this weekend, things have certainly changed, and I think they have changed for the better. And for those of you who are already doing so, I love you even more. Poler’s and community members, also take note. We have all just spent a weekend in a space that does not value athletic pole, over modern contemporary, over sexy, over thin, over small, over old, over young, over man, over woman. Additionally, we witnessed and participated in a convention that represented a wide range of people in terms of size, style, race, sexuality, gender, class, and level ability. Your elitism and eye rolls toward your fellow community for being different than you is no longer the currency by which you may establish your worth in this space. Love is the currency now. And for those of you who have been preaching this gospel since the beginning, lets go fucking party. For the people that walked out of or away from any of the fabulous showcases, workshops, seminars due to a constructed and rather insecure and fearful notion of what does and does not belong in pole, know that you have walked away alone and you will remain alone because Pole Con 2015 has just opened the door and invited far more people into this space than ever before. Bravo, Colleen Jolly. Well done. You have looked this industry’s fears and elitism in the face and gave it not one, but TWO middle fingers and in exchange offered a place for everyone to be themselves. You have reset the bar that, now, everyone in this industry should strive for. Love is, without a doubt, a political statement as well as an act of defiance in a world that is aimed at profiting off of tearing people down. You have used commerce for positive instead of negative, and I cannot say I have ever seen that happen on the scale that I just did. Colleen Jolly, International Pole Convention, and the people who heard this message that was so loudly sent (and resonates in my heart as I write these words) are PUNK AS FUCK. By Philip Deal EPIC POLE CON STATUS: In case you havnt heard Annemarie Davies Amd, the Queen of Sexy herself, danced topless at International Pole Convention. Drop the mic. Noooooooo there were no pasties. No this wasn’t around the corner at a strip club. Annemarie poled bare breasted at Pole Convention to Madonna’s Holy Water right there in front of us all. This is so relevant. And I have to explain why. If you or anybody else would have tried to pull that stunt off 5 years ago…. 2 years ago….. You would have been black balled out of this industry. Let me give you context. The sexy showcase happened Saturday afternoon with Jeni Janover, Accro Brandon, Michelle Mynx, Karol Helms, Pantara, Elena Anishchenko, Veronica Marie, and yours truly. I have to say it was the best showcase I’ve ever done because Colleen Jolly orchestrated a star slutted cast. She managed to get the few people in this industry who don’t give two fucks about what other people think and put them on stage to do what they do best. Be sexy, slutty, filthy, trashy, or however you like to define us. And we basically said fuck you to all the shamers. To all the haters. It was a celebration of slut pride. When AMD grabbed her crotch and said, “Jesus loves my pussy best”, We changed the industry. That’s Feminism. We have come a long way, for those of us who have been traveling down this road together, to have a Pole Con that embraces the competition and athletes, embraces the showcases, and welcomes EVERYBODY. This should be a no brainer and my non pole friends don’t understand why this even an issue. And unless you are a part of the pole fitness world you wouldn’t understand. Women attacking other women based on a shared love for pole. Slut shaming each other in the nastiest of ways. Telling them they cant compete in competitions, or trashing each other on Facebook, or banning people from events…. Really? Anybody else? This bull shit at some point in time needed to stop and somebody needed to grow a pair of balls large enough to make it happen. Colleen made it happen and she is my pole hero. Lets all bow down now. I heard Cleo went down to pasties at Expo last year and some bitches got pissy about it. Fuck you too. But AMD took it to that “level” these assholes are terrified of… baring her beautiful breasts, flipping her hair, grinding in a thong with her ass in the air like……………. a stripper. Natasha Wang can I get some back up? Anybody else? When I had lunch for the first time I met Colleen I “shamefully” had to explain the slut shaming experience I was put threw for the last Pole Con. She looked at me with a smile and said,”Philip your welcome at my Pole Con, everybody is welcome.” I didn’t believe her! I have been having panic attacks for weeks leading up to this event because I’m afraid of being attacked! Insulted or assaulted somehow for having a dick. I can’t. But I was standing beside Colleen when the top came off. I saw every mouth in the audience drop. I saw people stand up. I saw people turn away. But Colleen had a glazed over smile on her face and was totally in it. She looked at me and said again, “everybody is welcome.” Now how can we make this movement more powerful? How can we take our Feminism, our Pride, our self worth, and move forward liberating people who hiding in the shadows. Pole Fitness is not just one thing anymore after this weekend, it’s everything. And all the love that I lost over the years getting chewed up and spit out by these people has returned. I want to do pole again, I’m going to try again. I have my friends who will support me and defend me. Every woman and every man in Pole should feel as empowered as we do right now. It’s time to cut the bull shit. Im just a little pissed that I kept my pants on. I hope Fawnia can try to continue to push boundaries at Expo later this year. I used to feel like an outcast, I don’t anymore. I never was an outcast but I was made to feel that way, and more then I think any of you will ever realize. I’m also sick of people sending me messages on FB telling me they support my posts but wont comment on it because it could jeopardize their reputation. Fuck you too. Anybody else? Lux Atl you should’ve been here and seen what had happen. Share this post and tag as many sluts as you like. By Colleen Jolly Thank you everyone for coming to PoleCon! I am overwhelmed by the positive support and comments I have received privately and through social media. I believe that everyone should have a voice and be encouraged to use that voice. We are one big family #unitedbypole and sometimes family members fight and disagree but they always love each other. This PoleCon was a very public way to encourage discussion across groups that might not always agree on what our sport/hobby/dance/career/passion/art is “supposed” to be.
Let’s stop the shaming (slut, fat, gender, style, etc.) and keep the conversations going. Whether you are Olympic-ready or stripper-chic and everything in between, I want you to talk, to share ideas, to fight and then to hug it out as the one big, wacky family we are. I have invested my time and money in PoleCon but it is not my event — it is yours. And it will continue to grow and reflect the diversity inherent in our amazing community, providing a safe space to explore, express and interact for everyone. Much love and respect.