Fetish 2013: Utah's Biggest Pole Dance and Aerial Silk Competition

This post is co-written by both of us.  We'll try not to confuse you too much by noting who wrote which parts.

I’ve had an intense interest in Pole Fitness for over 5 years, but unfortunately have lived outside of a commutable area to any studios. Being back in Utah (for the winter) and finding a surprising movement within the subculture of aerial arts among other things, I had to jump on the chance to give it a try.  First with Antigravity Yoga, I began to feel what drew others to this sport/activity.  Then I dove into poles and fell in love.

While browsing the internet, I randomly came across a competition in Ogden, Utah put on by French Kiss Fitness (a local pole fitness, and aerial arts studio).  I’ve been slightly obsessed with watching pole and hammock videos online for learning/inspiration over the last two months and thought we had to take the opportunity to not only see but experience the vibrant energy of these sports.

After talking with Meisha about her pole fitness classes and the upcoming competition, I quickly realized that there was much more to dancing on poles than one might perceive based the stereotypical views brought on by the use of them in "Gentlemen's Clubs".  Yes, pole dancing is about expressing oneself in a sexually appealing manner, however the pole fitness movement is focused on using the pole to develop athletic prowess in a manner closer to acrobatics and gymnastics.  For more insight and info about these misconceptions and what pole fitness is all about, we highly recommend watching the independent documentary Blood, Sweat and Hot Pants.  

Arriving in Ogden, we didn’t really plan on doing much outside of visiting family and attending the competition. After all, we never really knew much about Ogden and had an impression that it was a sleepy little city. With the entire day to spend before the Fetish event was to begin, we drove around the city in search of coffee. We soon realized that this place is way bigger than expected and has a ton of places to explore from small shops and bars to a variety of outdoor recreation options.  This was setting us up for the ultimate mind blowing experience of all.

The competition was to be held at a local bar called The Outlaw Saloon.  The fact that it was tucked in a strange place (probably not that strange with the use of navigation) nearly made us late, but we showed up just in time to take the last legit parking spot available. Thankfully Josh had received a handicap placard due to his knee surgery. Wow, the show didn’t even start for another 30 minutes and they were already filling up!!  This was definitely not as small as we imagined it might be.

Yes, front row seats!  The best seats in my opinion (other than the judges table) to be a spectator.  We were hoping we could get the best angle possible for photos and video as well as actually being able to see what was going on and found ourselves quite pleased.  As someone with a visual impairment, I don’t think I could have been given a better seat.

As The Outlaw began to fill up with competitors and spectators alike, it became apparent that Utah has built a surprisingly large following of pole dancing and aerial arts, despite its "uptight" reputation.   The collective excitement began to build as the first performer entered the stage in the middle of The Outlaw and began to spin gracefully around the pole.  As she initiated her first acrobatic move, cheers erupted from the audience, which set the tone for the rest of the night.  The crowd watched in awe and continued to cheer as she transitioned from one difficult move into the next.

Following the initial pole performance, the aerial competition began.  We looked on in amazement as competitors climbed, spun, and contorted their way through each performance.  The aerial competitors used a variety of mediums, which kept things quite interesting.  Among those were a silk aerial hammock, the corde lisse (basically a very thick cotton rope), and aerial silks.  We were also treated to guest performances on the dance trapeze and aerial hoop by instructors from French Kiss Fitness.

The pole competition was separated into two categories: Amateur and Pro.  Without a doubt, each and every performance was both exciting and awe-inspiring (but don't take our word for it, check out the video at the top of this post 🙂 ).  Among our favorite performances were Kathi Benson in the Amateur category and Somer Ahonen in the Pro category.  Kathi's performance was inspirational in so many ways; she was the oldest competitor at Fetish 2013 and between dieting and pole fitness, she has managed to lose 86 lbs.!  Her performance not only marked the completion of a significant life goal, but garnered the loudest and most enthusiastic cheers of the night, bringing many of the spectators to tears of joy for Kathi and her accomplishments.  Somer was the winner of the Pro category and to call her performance graceful would be a grave understatement.  Somer definitely showed us what pole fitness was all about; combining athletic strength, fluidity, and just the right amount of sexy 🙂  To view Somer's entire performance check out the video here.

In the end, the greatest element that each of these performances had in common was passion.  It was absolutely surreal to witness the amount of emotion and energy infused into each and every performer's routine.  That passion is what truly made this night such a magical experience.  We feel so lucky to have been a part of it all and extend our deepest thanks to French Kiss Fitness and all the event sponsors (Dew Point Pole, Bad Kitty, Pole Fitness Association, Pole Fitness Nutrition, Las Vegas Pole Expo, X-Pole, and The International Pole Convention) for allowing us to attend and capture this unique event.

Info and Resources: 

Pole Fitness Classes in Utah:
French Kiss Fitness in Ogden, UT
Pole Expression in Sandy, UT (Where Meisha took classes)

Learning Pole Dance Moves Online:  
Pole Dance Dictionary 

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