As some of you will know I did several pole dancing displays at South Devon College last week as part of their 'Be Healthy week'. The first set of displays happened on the Wednesday in the main public area called the Street, there was a very large crowd who seemed to be positive in their response to us. When we returned on Friday we were asked to display in a different area as we were told there had been complaints about our display on the Wednesday and therefore the decision had been made to place us in the sports hall instead. On querying the nature of the complaints I was told that most of the complaints had come from members of staff who had not actually seen our displays but had just assumed that they were inappropriate for their students.
I had filmed several of the displays and had then uploaded them to YouTube, this is when the trouble escalated. Yesterday I received an e-mail from South Devon College asking me to remove the videos, I consented to removing the videos that had students in them as they had not signed any consent forms but I refused to remove the videos filmed in the sports hall as they did not feature any students or references to the college, As an act of goodwill I removed all tags and titles that linked to South Devon College or their 'Be Healthy week,.
This morning I received a call from a journalist at the National Press association asking me questions about the display at South Devon College. The journalist explained that he was going to contact SDC for a press release and would get back to me later. I then contacted SDC to relay my conversation with the press office to them. I was then contacted by the Vice Presdent of SDC. Basically the college are trying to distance themselves from the display as much as possible and are arguring that I should not be making the event public, I pointed out that it was natural for any business to use a promotion such as Be Healthy week to advertise their business in a positive way. I mentioned that only this week the Plymouth raiders (who also exhibited at the SDC) had visited a Plymouth School to promote fitness and the story had been featured in the herald, I saw that story and thought it was no different to me advertising my display at the College.
I have been told that SDC have refused to give an official press release to the press but have stated that 'a pole fitness display did take place at the college but that it was not pole dancing'. I responded to the SDC by saying that our display was mixture of pole dancing and gymnastics, I also explained that unless we educate people in the differences between modern fitness pole dancing and lap dancing then we will never dispel the myths and negative stereotypes that surround fitness pole dancing then we will never move the industry forwards.
Today I really felt the stress of having bad pole dancing stereotypes thrown in my face yet again, I was annoyed to think that mainstream pop group such as the pussycat dolls seem to promote inappropriate behaviour far more than my pole dancing classes. If anything my classes empower women and therefore encourage them to be in control of their bodies.
To be honest I am still glued to my soap box and not about to get down in any hurry, I will give my statement to the press tomorrow and will not be silenced by SDC, I completely understand that representatives of SDC need to protect the image of their college but as my display was completely fitness based and as my business is about promoting good physical and mental heath I see no reason to silence the event. Watch this space for further developments on the ongoing debate.........