Monday, September 17, 2012

Why we can't have a rational discussion about pole brands

One of the most important topics we can talk about is the difference between pole makes and manufacturers. Why? Because it matters and it's actionable. We can talk about whether we like stripper-style pole or Olympic-style pole, but it's not really an actionable debate on an individual level. You already have your mind made up, I already have my mind made up, and while we like expressing our opinions, and the open-minded among us like seeing other points of view, it's not going to change what most of us do on a day-to-day basis. Knowing why Dancer A likes booty popping isn't going to make Dancer B start rump shaking too.

What pole should I buy? Totally actionable. What pole should I buy? Brand Z! OK! Done! A transaction has taken place.

Plus, people really want to know this stuff. Most people who get into pole are going to want to buy one, and they're going to want to know what to buy. Few people, especially beginners, have the chance to try out different makes firsthand and decide for themselves. So they need advice.

The problem is that someone asks the room what brand they should get, and a bloodbath breaks out. Everyone is convinced that their pole is the best, that the opposing brand has horrible customer service, that Brand Q is unsafe, that Brand Y has a bad reputation.

Part of the problem is that our industry is so small that one complaint gets echoed around the community. If one vocal person has a bad experience with a pole, a significant portion of the industry will hear about it.

But the issue is psychological.

Let me pose a question to you. Why are people rabid and pushy about their preference for a Mac or a PC, but mild and reasonable about their preference for Pepsi vs. Coke?

I don't mean that people who prefer Coke over Pepsi are making a logical choice--the Pepsi challenge has proven that people might prefer the taste of one product but fall for the marketing of the other. And I don't mean they're flexible about their choice. Anyone who's ever worked in food service knows the look of disgust when a customer is told their beverage of choice isn't sold there. But there is no debating, evangelizing, or justification like there is with the computer.

When somebody (especially somebody passionate about computers) is asked their preference for computers, it's a different story. They will pretty much get up on a soapbox, and a discussion of vices and virtues between opposing parties can get heated.

Besides the fact that soda is simpler and there is less to debate (unless you bring up terminology--I lived in the Midwest for 7 years of my childhood and REFUSED to say "pop" because I was from the East coast), the difference is that the computer is a major investment. One of the biggest, after your house and your car, you'll ever make. Because not only do you have to buy the computer itself, but the software and hardware. You have to limit yourself to the choices that are available on your platform (or, *ugh*, run a virtual machine). And if you ever want to change teams? Best not to think about that. Your head might explode.

You know, we polers don't really argue about grip aids. They are important! They are complicated! You have to try them in person to know how it works! They all have advantages and disadvantages! But we don't fight. We just say "I like Mighty Grip." Or, "I like Dry Hands for tack but Tite Grip for sweat."

You see where I'm going with this. A pole is a major investment for most of us. Depending on what you get, you're going to be dropping like $500. And even if we had the money, most of us don't have room for two. You pick your pole, you get to know it intimately, you get used to it. You go to a studio that has a different kind, you get confused. How do I set this to spin??

What happens in this situation is that the purchaser can't afford to be wrong. You've basically bet everything on red. That's what turns discussions about major purchases into religious/political debates. I mean, people don't change religions often. Because it's like, not to dramatize, but "Everything I've ever known is a lie!" Obviously the stakes in a pole aren't as high--it's $500, not 20/30/50+ years of life invested. But you can see the same chemistry working itself out on our minds.

And yes, we do tend to evangelize, because we all want to be on the "right" side. When I think about it, I have to admit I did feel a little defensive of my Platinum Stages pole when X-Pole became the "cool" kid in town. It didn't bother me, because I knew it was a good piece of equipment, but I didn't want my reputation to suffer. I was afraid my students would think I wasn't "in the know" because I didn't have the "right" pole.

But I consider myself a relatively unbiased person, and I can say with all honesty that I have owned and used both Platinum Stages and X-Pole, both at home and in studio/performance settings, and I can legitimately say that I've had good and bad experiences with both. I think everyone who's used both can say that. (I don't mean to make this a two-horse race. I've just had minimal experience with other brands. I've used Li'l Mynx and Markstaar--again, both good and bad aspects.) I originally bought Platinum Stages, and advised my students to do so, because it was the only brass option (this was years ago), but now that that's not the case, it's an open playing field as far as I'm concerned.

Anyways, thought I would point this out, because it's a legitimate psychological phenomenon that we should be aware of when we have this discussion. If anyone else has caught themselves being biased towards their pole of choice, I'd love to hear about it!

Incidentally, I use a Mac at home (because I'm cool) and a PC at work (because it works). I can legitimately say I see advantages and disadvantages to both of these, too.
Photo from

1 comment:

  1. I hear what you are saying. Once we join one team we often look at anything else as the enemy. It is a weird phenomenon. I actually got my pole before I became involved in the pole community as I bought it used off a friend who was leaving, then I started pole.
    I often wonder if I had knowledge before my purchase if I would have gone a different route regarding brand, finish and size...