[Patrick Li | thebeijinger]

Pole dancing is probably not the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about Beijing or sports. Yet it’s still not too late to take a new stance on it as our city is hosting the 2015 World Pole Dance Championships this April. It will be the first time for the event to take place on Chinese soil and the once-in-a-lifetime show will undoubtedly be one of your more entertaining and unique spectacles the city has to offer in 2015.

The semifinals will go ahead on April 11, followed by the main event on the 12th. Tickets will be available by the end of the month at poleticket.com (in English). The venue will be decided shortly – watch this space.

While pole dancing was once only associated with strip clubs and nightclubs, in recent years it has become a form of competitive sport as well as a trendy form of exercise in fitness centers. The sport combines dancing with gymnastics and acrobatics, requiring not only a good sense of rhythm and choreography but also significant strength, flexibility, and endurance.

It also shares some similarity with ice skating in that each competitor needs to design his or her own show, which can include everything from light-hearted antics to elements of Chinese traditional dance.

Pole dance as a sport saw vast developments in China in recent years after the first large scale event, the World Pole Dance Championships, was held on Chinese soil in 2011. Chinese dancers’ performed well at last year’s event  in London, with Sun Yingzhi winning Best Entertainer in the Men’s Division and Fang Chunyan securing Best Costume in the Women’s.

Luo Linlin, winner of China’s 2014 Pole Dance Championship, is undoubtedly the leading star of the Chinese team for this year’s event. The Chinese national pole dance team now has 17 dancers including six male players. There will be a qualification round held in Tianjin at the end of the month, which will decide who will attend the World Championships.

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