The Origin and Growth of
the International Pole Convention
The International Pole and Exotic Dance Convention is an annual event showcasing pole and exotic dance in its many wonderful form and variations. The convention is a place for pole athletes, pole studio owners, wannabe pole dancers and everyone inbetween to come and learn, play, shop and be entertained, to develop themselves professionally, to network with other in the industry and see some of the world’s finest perform in the flesh!
In Part 1 of this interview we went behind the scenes and asked Jessalynn just how she managed to pull the whole thing together! In this article Jessalynn shares the story of how it all started, we ask her what she has up her sleeve for the NEXT event and find out how you could get involved!
Read on below...
How did the International Pole Convention come about?
I really wanted to host an event that didn’t involve competition and just really supported the entire Pole Community. I developed the concept when I saw people, that were not as thin or as little as the competitors, which had an interest in competition but were very discouraged. Not everyone is going to be a competitor or be as thin as most competitors and I didn’t want to see these individuals just give up. This Pole Community is for anyone and everyone. The International Pole Convention brings everyone together to just have fun and enjoy the sharing of knowledge in a less competitive atmosphere.
How do you select the artists for the event? (You must have a lot of great performers to choose from!)
We receive frequent applicants via email and everyone is examined through their Youtube videos and Facebook. The solo performers are hand-selected and invited to perform; they are chosen based on their skill and their involvement in the Pole Community, to ensure they have material that guests could benefit from. We love the underdogs and people with different styles.
The group performances are studios, small groups and duets from everywhere. They submit a group performance form from our website and mail it in and all groups are accepted.
How can business owners and instructors get involved with the Pole Convention?
This year there were 3 business workshops at the Convention (and one of them was FREE!). These workshops were geared towards helping studio owners and managers develop strong team building, marketing and management skills.
Anyone can become involved with the Pole Convention; it’s completely community-driven. Every event and plan that is drawn up is the voice of the community and the feedback is really useful. Anyone can email or call anyone through the website to make sure their idea or voice is heard in order to improve the overall event.
How has the event grown since you first started?
The event has grown by nearly doubling in size and new ideas come in all the time. These suggestions are wonderful in order to create an event that would make everyone happy. I didn’t really know what I was doing the first year; all I knew was that I needed to stay extremely organized in order to make this thing come out right.
I really like that Pole Stars came to me to be a part of the event because I think it’s very clear that they want to be a part of the driving force of the Convention too. It was hard to convince Pole Stars to come to the first Convention because they didn’t understand it yet or were a little confused, which was totally understandable because it had never been done before. A testament to hard work is when everyone shows up. In 2010 we had almost 500 people attend and in 2011 it was a little over 800!
So – what can you tell us about the next Convention? Anything new for 2012?
I’m looking to sign in LA very soon. It’s not totally secure yet, but we’re heading to the West Coast no matter what. J We started planning for 2012 about a month before we went to West Palm Beach, FL to host the 2011 Convention. We will be signing and booking for 2012 within a couple of weeks from today.
We will be adding a couple of days on to next year’s Convention because we are bringing teacher certifications in to the event. Tentatively, the next Convention will be teacher certification programs on Thursday and Friday. Convention events start in the evening on Friday and will go through Sunday, just as they did this year. We’re also going to be introducing debates and discussions in the theatre.
In the past you have come up against several obstacles, including the local government banning your from running the event at the DC Convention Centre. How do you handle set-backs like these?
Nothing good ever comes easy. Sure, I shed some good tears and cried on my Mom’s shoulder (LOL) but then I realized, I’m not going to let anyone slow me down. It was going to take a lot to keep me down so I kept searching for locations and eventually a location said ‘YES!’.
My assistant recently told me that he was going to start signing his name as ‘Justine’ when it came to getting a positive response from Convention locations (his name is Justin). My response was, “We’re not changing for anyone and you certainly do not have to change your name to get respect.” There are going to be people that just don’t understand this event, but I’ll make sure they understand what they missed out on when they see us in every newspaper around town and on every television station.
What are you goals and visions for the convention in the future?
The vision would be that I’d really like to see it grow in other countries. There are many other goals that I think I want for the Convention and those would be:
1. I want people to smile a lot when they are there; I don’t want it to be stressful for them.
2. I’d like guests to feel like they need to be at the Convention every year.
3. Most of all: I would like it to be recognized on a global level.
Does that mean you plan to take the convention to any other countries in future?
We are currently looking to take the Convention to other countries in the future and when we do, it will be announced on our website!
Thank you so much for your time, Jessalynn!
Did you miss Part 1? Read it here!