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Pole Dance Competitions: What happens on the day? What do I bring with me?

Written by Fiona Perso

You’ve done all the hard work, been training for months, or not if you’re one of those gifted people who can throw together a pole dancing routine in a month (I hate those people). You’ve bedazzled your costume to within an inch of its sparkly life, makeup and hair is booked after scrolling through Pinterest for endless hours in search of the perfect combination. All that remains is to actually put it all together and dance your heart out on stage. But what happens on pole comp day and what do I need to bring with me?

Pole dancing competition days are stressful, I’m not even going to sugar coat it for you. Your adrenaline will spike sharply and then fall way again constantly throughout the day. Despite the fact it’s only maybe 1 hour of exercise, with warmups, run through and actually performance, I’m always completely spent by the end of the day. I’m not sure how people go out afterwards, all I want is bed, but then I’m a nanna by nature anyway.

 I’ve only ever done comps in my native South Australia but I’m assuming the formula doesn’t deviate much. You’ll be sent all the info via email beforehand of how the day will run, make sure you read it and understand. We all gather at the theatre at around 11am, get settled into our dressing rooms and gather for a debrief with the organiser of the glorious event. This doesn’t happen at every comp, not all organisers do the pre-game pep talk. From there we move to run throughs. These go in the same order that you’ll be performing on the night and you need to be warmed up and ready when it’s your turn, you’ve got five minutes and that’s it. If you miss your run through, you don’t get another shot later in the day so make sure you’re there and ready. You’ll get a chance to tell the tech people what kind of lighting effects you’d like, this will vary depending on the comp, some have stricter rules than others. If you’re like me, you’ll generally have a bit of an idea of colour, but will leave it to the wisdom of the technical team to improvise you something awesome! In SA competitors are allowed to watch the run throughs, this may not be the case everywhere. Personally I’ve always found the run through more stressful than the actual performance.

Once run throughs are done there’s a 3-4 hour gap for hair and makeup people to come to the theatre and beautify us, or for you to go see them. You’re not required to stay at the venue the whole afternoon, you just have to be back at the time specified by the organiser. All competitors need to be safely tucked away backstage before the audience begins to arrive.

What to pack the night before:

  • Costume including accessories, knee pads and heels if required
  • Makeup or hair accessories, even if you've got a professional doing your hair and makeup the essentials I always pack for touch-ups are hairspray, bobby pins, cotton buds
  • Tape, you never know when you or a pole sister will need this, it’s a life saver
  • Water bottle, you need to stay well hydrated or you risk getting a serious cramp mid performance (this happened my first time performing)
  • Food – we're polers, we need to eat. Some organisers may provide some snacks for the competitors, in SA we’re spoiled with a whole smorgasboard of delights, but don’t count on it. Always pack food that you know will keep you full of energy
  • Phone charger, you don’t want your battery running flat when it’s time for selfies
  • Anything you need to warm up properly e.g. theraband, foam roller, stretching blocks
  • Clothes to keep warm, depending on the time of year you need to make sure you’re fully equipped to stay comfy for the day
  • Entertainment, if you’re at the venue the whole day you may want to bring something to help pass the time and distract yourself for a while, a book, your iPad etc
  • Comfort teddy bear or blanket for when you’re really feeling the stress ;)
  • Your kick ass pole dancer attitude!

I can honestly say that I don’t regret participating in any pole dancing comps, regardless of how I performed on the night, and there have been a couple of real doosies. You spend the whole day with friends, you make new friends, you get to share all the highs and lows of the day with like-minded people and you grow from the experience. That’s what it’s really all about.

My top tip for performance time!

When you first walk out on stage to take your position for your performance, look out at the audience, look at the judges, take a deep breath and then assume the position. The first time I performed I walked straight to my spot, didn’t look out towards the audience at all, I was so shit scared. Then the first time I did look out towards the audience it was a terrible shock. Especially seeing the judges looking at you. My first pole dance performance our judges were Felix Cane, Natasha Wang and Jamilla De Ville, I was freaking terrified.

It sounds silly because obviously you know the audience and judges are out there, but it really threw me off. Now when I walk on stage, I look at the audience, I look at the judges, I basically stare them down for a second, take a deep breath, and it sort of removes that fear that I have of being in front of them.

What tips do you have for getting though comp day??

Happy poling, Fi xxx



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