11 February 2021

In the Spirit of Black History Month: Vanessa’s Experience as a Pole Dancer of Colour

Growing up and living in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), I was exposed to a multitude of diverse communities and never once felt like an obvious minority, until I started pole dancing. I recently celebrated my 10 year pole -versary and reflecting back to when it all started, I realized that the first 5 years of my pole journey, across the dozens of pole studios I took classes at, amongst the hundreds of students and instructors I danced alongside, I was always the only person of color in the room. Although this bothered me, I assumed that maybe women of color just did not want to deal with yet another stereotype, they just did not want to bother with the stigma that comes with pole dancing… that we’re all strippers. I absolutely love and am inspired by exotic dancers and I think that they are definitely the reason why pole dance is as recognized and accepted as the amazing art form that it is today; but having to constantly justify one’s fitness choice is exhausting.

“Oh, you pole dance? I bet you can twerk in a split? Can you do a little dance for me?”
These were common responses I would receive from both men and women when I disclosed that I participated in pole dance for recreation. Nonetheless, I have always been proud to be a pole dancer. I find joy in watching a person’s arousal quickly turn into bewilderment when I explain that I participate in pole dance classes simply to reclaim my sexuality, develop my self esteem all whilst getting stronger and more defined muscles in the process. It is an empowering feeling to gently deconstruct their misogynistic perceptions of pole dance and to change the conversation to a more positive representation of the strength and discipline that is required for the sport. What would have been even more empowering though, is seeing my own race and body type represented in the classes I took.

Curvy, women of color were largely underrepresented at all of the studios I had attended and the popular women in the pole industry (those who won the competitions, ran the competitions, owned the pole studios) were, up until recently, predominantly young, slim, athletic/muscular white women. I used to think to myself, “I can’t possibly be the only minority in Mississauga who is obsessed with pole dance. Where are others like me hiding? How do I get them to take the risk and try something new despite the stereotypes and stigma?” Fast forward to the creation of Black Girls Pole, I had finally found an online community of minorities from all over the globe who shared my passion for pole dance and it ignited my desire to create a safe space for the marginalized and underrepresented men and women in my community who were just as passionate about all things aerial. I began to train more often, with hopes of becoming an instructor so that I could grow my following and eventually open up my own studio/ safe space. My hard work had eventually paid off when I was offered the opportunity to own and operate my local dance studio. With the help of my pole sister Natasha, Aerial Fifty Two was born – the first and only black-owned / minority-owned studio in the Greater Toronto Area. Natasha was one of the first other minorities I encountered in a pole dance class and I remember doing a little happy dance because that had been the first time in a long time that I was not the only person of color in the room.

Aerial Fifty Two continues to be an inclusive space for all people to participate and feel included. We do not discriminate by gender, sexuality, ethnicity, job, religion, politics etc. All are welcome as long as hate and violence do not come into the studio. We are powered by diversity, we are strengthened by our differences and we are eternally grateful for everyone who continues to support Aerial Fifty Two as we continue to exceed expectations.

19 June 2020

Show Your A52 Pride

At Aerial Fifty Two we believe it is our responsibility to keep our squad up to date with the latest developments in aerial arts, music, food and drink, but never more so than now. In the current, unsettled climate, we will always keep you informed of the latest pole trends, hottest clubs, bars and restos and news from around the globe.

Speaking of bars and restos, Mississauga will soon be in phase 2 and the squad is excited to kick off patio season. El Mariachi Tacos And Churros anyone??  The weather is warmer, the days are longer and Mercury’s not in retrograde so we hope you’ll RSVP yes when those evites go out. More importantly, June is LGBTQ Pride Month and this year we’ve been using our online studio to raise funds for the Rainbow Railroad and #Sayhername. Can you imagine living in fear of persecution, torture or murder for the color of your skin or because of who you love? That is a reality for so many LGBTQI individuals and women of color around the world, and organizations like the Rainbow Railroad and #Sayhername help hundreds of individuals find a path to safety to start a new life. So log into MindBody, purchase a donation class, Virtual Memberships or a $5 Outdoor class [outdoor schedule will be announced as soon as Mississauga enters phase 2] Not only will your purchase go towards two movements that solely focus on the protection of our basic human rights, but you’ll get a great workout in at the same time!

9 June 2020

Quick Pole History & Why Aerial Fifty Two is a Trail Blazer

Pole dance and fitness started way before JLo at the 2020 Super Bowl. The use of pole in a fitness capacity can be traced back to over 800 years ago in India with the use of Mallakhamb and Chinese Poles. Mallakhamb involves the use of thick wooden poles to perform acrobatic and yoga-inspired tricks; whereas Chinese Poles, 20-foot-high silicone or powder-coated, allow performers to complete their climbs and inversions fully-clothed.  Pole performances have since taken on various styles ranging from lyrical/contemporary to theatrical and exotic. The rise in pole dance fitness studios started in the 90’s in the U.S, as strip club entertainers wanted to fuse acrobatic tricks in their erotic live performances.

Fast forward to March 2019, Aerial Fifty Two, a hidden gem among pole studios, is born. Aerial Fifty Two is the premier destination for all things alternative fitness in Mississauga with classes ranging from pole dance and tricks, strength conditioning, flexibility, aerial silk hammock and aerial hoop (also known as lyra). Founded by pole sisters Natasha and Vanessa, the studio is recognized as a safe space for all people to participate and feel included. As one of the only pole studios in Canada that is owned and operated by visible minorities, this dynamic duo regularly promotes diversity and embraces community – regularly giving back to various charities including Essence of Mind, Say Her Name and The Rainbow Railroad. Their community of dancers share a passion for health and wellness and a desire to embrace their inner erotic beast. These boss babes have swapped the boring, traditional gym workouts for a variety of in studio and online classes that are guaranteed to improve core and upper body strength and overtime, define the muscles in the entire body.  The studio is also available as an event venue hosting everything from pole, chair, twerk, to burlesque or heels dance. Bachelorette party? Birthday party? Girls Night Out? Just because? They’ve got you covered!

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