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?

las vegas stripHowever, 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.

pole expo participantsOn 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 maddie-and-shimmy-millie-robsontheir 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).

pole expo mighty grip stallAs 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.

pole expo classic posterA 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!

vegas squad selfieFor 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.


About the Author




ally apcAlly is a restless entrepreneur and passionate creative with a Piscean idealism and an aversion to authority. Having practiced as a Naturopath and Massage Therapist for 6 years, she abandoned clinic work in 2014 to spend more time doing what she loved most: working with her pole family at Bottoms Up! where she has taught since 2009, and instructing 80’s dance fitness under her own creation RAD Fitness

It didn’t take long before her creative juices led her to conjure up Pandemonium Events, and under this brand she has produced and co-ordinated ten pole, aerial and variety performance nights.

Besides teaching and producing, Ally loves being on stage. She competed in the Victorian Pole Championships in 2013 and then again in 2015 where she won the VPC Amateur division and went on to compete in the national finals. She also joined APDM Editor Jane Blair and their Bottoms Up! family in a Rocky Horror group performance at Encore! 2016 (nominated as a finalist for Best Group Performance at the Victorian Aerial Awards 2016) and competed in the Pro Comedy division of Pole Theatre in 2016 and 2017. She was also honoured to be awarded the 2016 Trailblazer of the Year award at the Victorian Aerial Awards. 

Having toyed with the idea of starting a pole magazine herself in 2011, Ally watched the growth of Australian Pole Dancers Magazine with much interest, contributing articles to the publication before formally becoming a partner in November 2015. She loves being part of APDM as she feels it is something that the entire pole community can use as a means of connecting with one another, learning from one another and growing together.