by Alessandra Izzo aka Ally Cat
I have been aware of Pole Expo since its inception back in 2012, but have never before experienced it. Watching the growing social media presence of excited pole dancers descending on Las Vegas for the last five years, and talking with business owners who have gone to exhibit, I have felt the pang of FOMO increase with each passing September. As a passionate pole dancer, who wouldn’t want to see what is widely renowned as the biggest pole event on the international calendar?
However, I’ve never before seriously considered going. Las Vegas is about the last place on Earth I would want to pay to visit. From a distance it appears gaudy, vulgar, and ostentatious (spoiler alert: it really is all that). Not qualities I value in a holiday destination. However, when I found out my #squad was going to be there the FOMO got real, so I bought myself a ticket.
My Expo experience included accommodation at the Hard Rock Hotel (where Expo is located), a three day pass – which included entry into the Pole Classic Competition and Legends Showcase, and I booked myself five workshops over four days.
On arrival at the hotel it was clear to me very quickly that this was literally the place to be if you’re a pole dancer, rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of the pole world. Everywhere I looked there was a pole superstar sauntering past. I loathe name dropping, but to paint a picture I feel in this case it is warranted.
After checking into the hotel I almost knocked over Natasha Wang on her way out of Magic Mike. I wandered past Dunkin’ Donuts and saw Blue Phoenix and Charlee Shae Wagner getting their morning cuppa, passed Michelle Shimmy and Maddie Sparkle on my way to breakfast, before sitting down at the hotel diner next to Lisette Krol. I went to check out the pool and managed to throw in a casual chat with Deb Roach, and got introduced to Michelle Natoli. By the end of day one my polebrity radar was on red alert.
I made sure I booked into workshops with some of my idols, including Michelle Stanek and Margarita Okulova Evans. I did a life-changing workshop with David C. Owen on backbending (seriously, the guy knows his stuff!). In one round of the Expo floor I passed Bendy Kate, Steven Retchless, Lou Landers, Andrea Ryff, Crystal Belcher, Zoraya Judd, Kenneth Kao, Evgeny Greshilov, Kira Noire, Alethea Austin and Samantha Star. While checking out the exhibits inside Expo, I stopped for a chat with Marlo Fisken, basked from a safe distance (about two metres away) in the star quality of Cleo the Hurricane, admired the Amazonian splendour of Shaina Cruea, and threw all my money at Nadia Sharif (her onesies, oh my goodness her onesies).
As an event, Pole Expo is run exceptionally well. The scale of it is huge, with loads of pole superstars holding workshops, dozens of exhibitors, a main stage with stacks of free activities going on, and on top of all this the Pole Classic competition – which left me absolutely flabbergasted. The sheer scale of it meant that so many things could potentially go wrong but there were a large team of people ensuring that everything ran as smoothly as possible. They even provided free food in the morning for participants!
Everyone knows that stage poles are limiting, but for what we were being taught they did the job. Some of the teachers were better at time management than others – given we were all there to learn as much as possible, one or two of my teachers (remember I did five workshops – so not naming names here) probably spent more time than was necessary with participants rather than teaching content. But that aside, I thoroughly enjoyed every workshop I did.
A review of Pole Expo wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the outstanding job done by all involved with the Pole Classic competition. My expectations for this were low, as (for some reason) I didn’t think it was going to be a very serious comp. Well, boy, was I wrong about that.
Not only were we treated to some of the best pole I’ve seen in a long time *cough* Alberto del Campo *cough*, the event also featured the newly added “Legends Showcase”, which included performances from the likes of Pantera Blacksmith, Suwasit, Karol Helms, Alethea Austin and the mother of pole herself, Fawnia Mondey. What a blessed treat. Special mention to the MC Vicky Vox, who was some kind of heavenly mash-up of Chilli Rox AND Maxi Shield, all rolled into one stunning and hilarious package. Too good!
For anyone thinking of going to Pole Expo next year, I’m here to tell you, it is absolutely something that needs to go on your bucket list. While as an Australian it isn’t something I’d endeavour to do annually, I honestly had a ball. This was in part due to my wonderful company (ping Sparkarella/Lisa D/Elle Diablo/Fay MacFarlane), but credit where it’s due – for such an epic scale event, you couldn’t ask for anything more.