Meet Annemarie Davies, founder and CEO of United Pole Artists (UPA), a leader in providing us news and media in the world of pole dancing.
How were you first introduced to pole dance?
I was first introduced to pole dance by working in the strip clubs. I had always been interested in being a stripper, and one day I was counting nickels and dimes at a Taco Bell to buy myself dinner.
I decided that night it was time to go for it. There was a pole in that strip club. I fell in love with dancing around it very quickly.
What was your learning method?
For the first five and half years, I learned by watching other exotic dancers in the clubs. Then all of a sudden there were pole dance studios and I found myself learning from and teaching other ladies who had transitioned from stripping into professional pole dancing.
What inspired you to found United Pole Artists?
I'm not really sure what the inspiration was. I just felt a very strong urge to do something. For months, I worked on a name, figured it would just be a blog. I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing!
Do you feel that UPA is reaching the goals that you originally had in mind for it?
Yes, I do feel like UPA is reaching it's goals. Once I had something in mind, I saw it moving in a direction that felt right. But UPA only grows as fast as pole dancing grows. So, in my mind, we all are reaching our goals together.
The mission of United Pole Artists is to educate people on pole dancing that know nothing or very little about it. The reason we are in place is to inform not only pole dancers, but people outside of our industry what we are doing and how things are changing.
UPA has reached thousands in the global pole community...do you feel that UPA has the influence needed in our pole community?
This is a hard question to answer. I would look to our audience to answer this question for me. I guess that if we weren't needed, we would have faded away a long time ago.
What benefits does a member of UPA receive? Who can join?
A UPA Business Member benefits by receiving discounts on advertising, having the opportunity to list their business and to be rated. Their fans can also write reviews on them, allowing new customers to read reviews. They sometimes will receive free ads, get information on what's new on the site before anyone else and a chance to be promoted on our social media outlets and more.
If you're just a person, being a member now allows you to create a profile, upload pictures, videos and follow other people. You can also list your events, add studios to our Pole Locator and much more.
In the very near future, instructors will be able to upload and sell short instructional videos! We are calling these PDL's. This is currently in beta testing and will be available on the UPA site in the next couple of weeks.
Wonderful! I think that’s going to be popular. Does UPA have any specific events or competitions that we can join, participate in or watch?
We have a live stream company called MFEO.tv where we live stream classes, showcases and competitions. Showcases and competitions are free live streams. Classes require you to buy tickets. They are an hour and a half long classes filled with useful content.
Do you have any new goals for the organization?
As I mentioned before, my goal for UPA includes the same goals for our industry. Our main goal and for pole dancing to get bigger and better. For more people to know about it, for companies outside of our industry to get involved and get as excited about pole dancing as we are!
Awesome! I like how you put that you are growing as pole grows. Do you have any new personal pole dance goals for yourself?
Lol! No, I do not. I pole dance less and less as time goes on. UPA and MFEO takes up the majority of my time…and traveling. I spend an obscene amount of time traveling.
What advice would you give a beginning pole student - someone just introduced to the sport?
My advice would be to listen to your instructors and be safe. To listen to your body and know when to give it a break or when to stop doing moves that hurt your shoulders in particular.
What advice would you give advanced dancers/artists?
Stop doing twisted grip tricks. Twisted grip is so bad for our shoulders. And also, listen to your body. If you are injured, you cannot pole dance at all. Sometimes you need to rest to avoid serious injury.
Share your thoughts on the stigmas that we pole dancers have to deal with - "strippers" or "Exotic dancers" ...not that we are against that, but we are something different as pole dancers for fitness, art and sport.
My thoughts are to embrace where pole dancing came from. The more we yell and scream about how we are not strippers, the more insecure we look. The hip hop community embraced their roots, the skateboarding community embraced their roots even though people judged and scoffed at them. But now look at where both of those industries have gone! People's minds will change by our actions, by continuing to pole dance how we feel we want to pole dance.
I agree with that, what a powerful statement and very well put. What has pole dance done for you personally?
Pole Dancing has given me a purpose. It has allowed me to play all day, to have fun from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep at night. Even if I'm not actually dancing, I'm enjoying pole dancing in so many other ways, by watching it, talking about it, writing about it, editing it, live streaming it.
There is no other reason to be alive other than to find what makes you happy and to do it for as long as you can. Sometimes people ask me how I have the energy, and the simple answer is, I'm excited for each day that I'm awake for.
Where can we all follow you and United Pole Artists?
You can follow us on our website: unitedpoleartists.com