According to the website of the International Pole Dance Fitness Association, ipdfa.com, modern pole dancing for fitness is a fusion of 12th century Chinese circus acts, a form of exercise in India that dates back 800 years and, yes, stripping, or the "sensuous dance skills of the Western world" as it's rather more delicately put.
"Pole has now evolved into a modern day exercise form, not just for professionals and performance and not just for one sex," according to the site.
The founder of the IPDFA, one K.T. Coates, is seeking to gather support to have pole dancing included in the Olympics.
The International Pole Dance Fitness Association website says pole dancing "has been said to originate from the traveling fairs during the American Depression in the 1920s, where a group of dancers would entertain crowds in tents using a lot of hip movement and suggestive dancing ... dancers ... would dance with the pole holding the tent in place.
"One of the earliest recorded pole dances was in Oregon, U.S., in 1968, and following this, the pole dance craze is believed to have kicked off in Canada in the 1980s. A woman named Fawnia Dietrich initiated the first ever class in teaching pole to non-performers in 1994, and has gone on to create the world's first pole dancing school and produced various instructional videos. The US, Europe, Australia and Asia quickly followed, with pole dancing and pole fitness classes, studios, academies, competition and training spaces opening worldwide ... modern pole is a combination of these centuries-old techniques, and has evolved into a modern day form that relies heavily on dance as well as fitness skills."
- Kevin Parks