Treadmills are run-of-the-mill -- Luo
Lan wants the Chinese masses to pole dance instead.
A dance instructor shows a move to
students at Roland pole dancing school in Beijing in this December 9, 2006
file photo. Treadmills are run-of-the-mill -- Luo Lan wants the Chinese
masses to pole dance instead.
As manager of Beijing's first pole dancing school, Luo says she is trying to
make exercise fun -- and not morally corrupt anyone in a country where this kind
of dancing is associated with seedy bars and sex is still a taboo topic.
But she admits she has had a tough time convincing people that pole dancing,
which has a celebrity following said to include pop star Britney Spears and
heiress Paris Hilton, is great for your health.
"When I first started people would only come furtively, and not tell their
boyfriends or husbands," Luo told Reuters in the apartment she has converted
into a dance studio with poles bolted to the floor and roof.
"But over the last year, people have started to hear more about pole dancing,
and they know it's purely for keeping fit," she added, as one of her students in
black hotpants writhed around a shiny steel pole.
"Now people come and say, oh, my husband let me sign up. This progress is
very obvious," she added. "The more and more people do it the wider the
acceptance will be. They'll see that it's normal and natural."
Luo started her pole dancing school, located in a fashionable part of
Beijing, last July after realizing that nobody in the city was offering classes
in what had become a fashionable way to shape up and lose weight in the United
States and Europe.
"Lots of girls love pole dancing, but like me could not find a place to
learn. So I spent a lot of time doing research, watching DVDs," Luo said.
"It's not hard like ballet. It's very easy to do."
Gym membership has become increasingly popular with China's newly affluent
middle class, who are keen to shape up in a country where obesity levels have
risen with incomes over the last few decades on the tails of an economic boom.
Luo now runs up to three classes a day, for a maximum of seven students, who
pay 110 yuan ($14.15) a session.
"I love the feeling, just like flying," said Xiao Wei, demonstrating a
recently learned move. "My legs were quite fat before, and the results have been
Another student, Yuan Xi, dismissed concerns that pole dancing is just for
bar girls or strippers, adding that her love of the pole had nothing to do with
"China is a very conservative country, and many people cannot accept this,"
said the 22-year-old. "Some men seem to think it's only about sex, but it's not.
It's about dancing."