All Ireland Pole Dancing Championships: Performers show off their flexibility and strength as they battle for the top spot
As performers took the stage they wowed the crowd at the All Ireland Pole Dancing championship with their sequined outfits, creative masks, flexibility and strength.
Mandela Hall was packed with cheering friends, families, supporters, and people curious about the pole-dancing scene.
Natalie Tosh from Bangor said: “It was an amazing show. It’s so good for women to support each other and it’s amazing at what they put into it.”
Also in the audience was Ashlee Scott, a dancer from Twirl Fit dance studio. She said: “They have made me proud to be a part of the pole dance community.”
This year marked the fourth year the competition was held and there were categories for beginners, professionals, men, and those over 40. Competitors were judged on their presentation, originality, range of tricks, and musicality.
El Fegan, owner of Polercise and organiser of the competition opened the show with a seductive, electrifying routine followed by special guest entertainment and competitors from the amateur category.
Former champion of the amateur division, Leah Aftab, placed second as a new winner was crowned. Laura Hatchell graced the stage in a black tutu with a lace flower mask. The 30-year-old has been pole dancing for four years and she’s also trained in martial arts.
Laura said: “I was in complete shock when I was called, I honestly didn't expect it. I had seen a lot of the girls in my category and they were so strong.”
She has only competed in one other competition, Pole Princess in 2014. She added: “I was pretty nervous beforehand, the waiting around is a killer! I was delighted to be up second in the category so I was finished early and there was a great atmosphere backstage.”
This year there were twice as many male competitors. Seven men showed off their strength and flexibility while the predominantly female crowd held up their drink cups and yelled and cheered.
Marcin Miller who was hoping to take home a third championship for the year pulled his hamstring prior to the show and placed fourth. He said: “I felt great, even though I knew I would not be able to give 100 per cent, I really enjoyed performing.”
Professional dancer Dave Skda took first place in the men’s division. He said: “When I won I felt very happy, but I didn’t expect to take first place. I was hoping for second or third as my routine didn’t go as good as I wanted.”
Dave is also the 2014 Mr Pole Fitness UK champion and an owner of D&N Mafia Fitness dance studio. He added: "But I'm very happy that the judges and people liked my routine which wasn't executed in full potential."
Doubles partners Seanin Ward & Emma White drew loud cheers from the audience when they performed Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked. Seanin said: “It was amazing to hear our names called out for first place. We still can't believe it. We just looked at each other stunned and hugged each other in shock."
The duo have only been doubles partners for a year and hope to compete in the future. Emma said: "As much as we are nervous before we go on stage we do love performing. We make such a great team and love the training together and trying out new moves."
Other winners include Susan Nolan (over 40s) and Leanne Cummins (women’s professional).
Each winner received prizes from sponsors Wink Designs, X-Pole, Pole Boutique, and Dragonfly pole dance wear. Female competitors were also given a pair of heels from Heeler Dealers.