Planet China

Winter training

Acrobat w

An icypole is Australian-speak for an iced lolly or popsicle. But it takes on a literal meaning for members of the national team at the China Pole Dance Sports and Training Centre in Tianjin, who have been training outside in sub-zero temperatures.

“We cannot wear too many clothes and sometimes in order to increase the friction we have to spray water on our body and on the poles. It’s freezing cold to practice in winter,” one dancer told media.

The snowy displays have been prompting bemusement online. “Polar dance or pole dance?” asked one netizen, while another speculated that the dancers looked tough enough to serve in the People’s Liberation Army.

The ‘winter training’ seems unnecessary, the Beijing Times agreed, even if it is hardening the national squad’s resolve. It suspected a marketing campaign was at work, although it wasn’t too critical of the team because “they don’t take a penny from taxpayers”.

The dancers might get more financial support if pole dancing ever becomes an Olympic sport, something that its international federation has been lobbying for under the category “vertical dance”. But netizens sounded unsure about its Olympic prospects. “In foreign countries isn’t pole dancing a sex-related commercial performance?” one queried. “How come in China it becomes a sport that can be seen on the street?”

For a visual appreciation of pole dancing conditions in Tianjin, see photo.

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