Pole dancer asked to cover up at Wellington fair says it perpetuates shaming of female bodies

One of the dancers.
One of the dancers. Photo credit: Instagram/ @thegardenpole

The owner of a pole dancing studio says a request to cover up at a Wellington fair came out of left field, and perpetuates the "endless shaming of female bodies".

On Saturday more than 300 stall holders took part in Petone's Rotary Fair - one of these stalls was held by The Garden Pole - a boutique pole dance studio.

Owner Evie Johnson told Newshub before the fair kicked off, one of the dancers was asked to swap her swimsuit style outfit for something more full-coverage.

"She complied and put on a more sporty, full coverage crop top and bottoms. Within 10 minutes she was asked to put her denim shorts on and she complied again. Another 10 minutes went by and she was asked to put a top on as well."

Johnson says the dancer agreed to all the requests, despite there being "many" members of the public wearing shorts and crop tops.

"Pole dancing requires a lot of skin grip which is why we are accustomed to wearing swimsuit style clothing."

Hutt City Deputy Mayor Tui Lewis told Stuff she was"highly embarrassed and so annoyed" at the Garden Pole's presence at the event.

"These were just young women pushing the fair boundaries and getting a whole lot of public exposure," she wrote in a statement. 

But Johnson says her studio was entirely transparent about who they were and what they did from the beginning of the Petone Fair organisational process.

"We had no idea we would invoke this kind of response," she said.

"The pole community is hugely centred around body positivity and female empowerment. Asking us to cover up perpetuates the endless shaming of female bodies."

Pole dancing originated in strip clubs but has since progressed to an official sport. It was officially recognised by the Global Association of International Sports Federation in 2017.