Despite having been around for centuries, pole dance is soaring to new heights at the minute. Rising in popularity within the performance arts, it’s a sport which allows people to express themselves freely in a safe, supportive environment. Blackstage Pole founder Leila Davis is a trailblazer at the forefront of it all, on a mission to make the artform more inclusive for BPOC. For Leila, there’s nothing more freeing than dancing – it helps her feel more confident and in control of her own body, and a large part of that is down to the clothes she gets to wear. Helping add flavour and originality to every performance, here’s what clothes mean to Leila and her sport.
While most sports require a uniform, pole dancing celebrates self-expression instead. Why would you say this is?
“Clothes are an extension of who we are as people – and when it comes to dance, they help performers feel unique. No one wants to fade into the background, do they? It’s important to be iconic. It’s all about embellishing your moves and expressing your own individuality, allowing each dancer to stand out and be remembered. A unique dress sense sets you apart from the rest.”
What do you look for in an outfit yourself?
“I like to mix things up. Sometimes I’ll go for bright colours, sometimes I’ll go for muted tones. Either way, I feel like I perform best when I’m able to make a statement. It’s always good to support independent costume makers when you can as well, as it makes your outfits feel unique.”
And in terms of practicality, what are the rules? What helps you perform at your peak?
“Less is more when it comes to pole, but there’s a practical reason for it. You need to have enough skin exposed to grip the metal, otherwise it will all be far too slippy. It’s the friction that allows you to nail those harder moves, so it’s pretty vital.”
What about those just starting out? Will shorts and a tee do, or should they shop for an outfit before their first class?
“Beginner moves don't usually require as much skin, so it's up to you what you wear, as long as it doesn't hinder your moves. Sometimes people feel unsure about wearing less when starting out, so definitely wear more if it makes you feel more comfortable. At the end of the day, pole dancing is an art and you’re the artist – so what you wear is one-hundred-percent always up to you. As soon as you start, your confidence will grow though. Just you wait.”
Want to feel free through dance? Take a look at Leila’s tips, with 3 Ways To Feel Connected Through Dance. Linked below.