The art, sport, and allure of pole has been around longer than the last few decades, which most mainly associate with the exotic entertainment industry. Early origins are all over the world, dating back centuries, including the following:

Let's begin this story in India... Most notable origins of pole begin in the 12th century in India. "Mallakhamb," translated literally as "Wrestlers of Pole" or "Pole Gymnastics," originated in Maharashtra, as a training method for men looking to perfect their technique as wrestlers. This training, used to improve strength, dexterity, and stamina, involved a wooden pole that was wider at the base and narrows going up, with a wooden ball at the top of the pole. Unbelievable feats including balancing and flipping  were displayed, and became competitive. Mallakhamb lost gusto for a few centuries, but returned in popularity in the 19th century, and is still widely practiced today in India. 

While the wrestlers in India were flipping... China began their own pole movement around the 12th century as well. Using two or more rubber-coated poles, men (typically two or more at a time) in full-body costumes performed incredible feats of gravity-defying acrobatics, often incorporating jumps from pole to pole and undisputed displays of strength and agility. This sport was more focused  on trick-to-trick movement, and carried less fluidity that pole "dance" carries. Pole burns were worn as badges of honor, and shown off, earning the respect from others of the craft. Chinese pole has carried over into modern times, and can be seen in shows such as Cirque Du Soleil.  

You a hoochi-coochi mama... Fast forward several centuries, to America. In the 1920's, during the Great Depression, traveling circuses began appearing. Women in the companies began using the middle pole which held up the circus tent to perform a seductive dance, using tempting poses and inviting movement. This gained popularity rather quickly, with these ladies earning the title of "Hoochi-Coochi" dancers. 

Oh, Mugwumps... Not until the 1960's did pole dance officially kick off in strip clubs. Oregon, 1968: Mugwumps Strip joint is the earliest recorded pole dancer in exotic fashion, with a Miss Belle Jangles performing the first known striptease involving pole. This craze spreads to Canada in the 1980's, becoming incredibly popular in the night clubs of Vancouver's red-light district. These shows became a sensation quickly, involving pole dancing in a seductive manner with the ladies using costumes, themes, and specific music. As time went on, these shows gained more popularity in America throughout the strip clubs, but with more focus on the "show-off" and less focus on the "show."

Let's teach this... Fawnia Mondey, founded the first pole dance studio in Canada in 1994. Thus began a slow but increasing growth in studios all across the globe, mainly in America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Competitions are held all over the world, from sexy to sporty. Pole is fast gaining popularity and is now viewed as a competitive form of fitness and challenging, fun workout. Lastly, it is safe to say pole is on the verge of entering the Olympics, initially lobbied for by KT Coates.