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With Valentine’s Day approaching quickly, I thought I would address one of the more seductive dance forms – pole dancing.

Though many dancers get offended when someone suggests that they work at a club, professional pole dancing has gained some serious legs in recent years. No pun intended.

My first exposure to the art of pole dancing was on America’s Got Talent. Season 6 featured dancers Steven Retchless and Soleil Rousseau, in a pole-dance-off of sorts. After watching them perform on the show,  it was hard to be anything but impressed by the way they transform an otherwise smutty cultural symbol into a vehicle for the display of strength, grace and beauty.

Steven’s AGT semi-finals performance:

There wasn’t a great clip of Soleil’s audition, so below is a video from her performance at Seattle’s U-District Art Walk.

But pole dancing hasn’t just been showing up more in the media; it’s showing up in our hometowns, too.  Pole dancing classes, largely popular because they offer both physical and mental health benefits, are now offered nationwide. Susan DeBouver, owner and founder of Pilates Plus studio of Schaumburg, Ill. (my hometown!), said that her studio offers two types of pole dancing classes: one that focuses on the exotic side of the form and another that is more athletic and trick-focused. DeBouver has seen many clients take what they have learned in weekly group classes and perform a private pole routine for their significant other.

“When a woman feels sexy and strong and confident, this directly affects the romantic side of her, and she’s more open to sharing this with her husband or boyfriend,” DeBouver said. “They have given these unique gifts for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries — any special occasion where they wish to give a gift that keeps giving. What a special moment and memory for the couple!”

And if you don’t think you could ever find the bravado to take a class, DeBouver had some encouraging words.

“Typically the shyest woman coming in is the one who really starts to hoot and holler later on in class when she finally opens up,” DeBouver said. “She is typically the one that has the most fun!”

Have you ever taken a class? What was it like? Leave me a comment and let me know!