Consenting adults being entertained by the sultry male and female form is said to have begun B.C.
Let’s face it, cave women probably tore a loin cloth off or two round the fire for some cave men for sure.
But loose and wild religious claims aside, today, the adult entertainment industry rakes in billions of dollars a year globally – and for good reason.
One of the biggest facets and originating aspects of this broad and exciting industry is dancing.
Think Burlesque, belly dancing, exotic dancing, pole dancing and strip teases.
Some may even argue that stripping is a 21st century hybrid of the former styles of ‘shaking what your mamma gave you’.
And god damn, when dancers put on a good show, you are usually far more than entertained.
But where did it all begin? And why do we dig (sometimes deeply) into our pockets to contribute to this essential industry?
Well, the earliest documented record of people being paid to publicly wow adults began with burlesque dancing (albeit, who knows how long it had been going on privately – cue Tina Turner’s song Private Dancer).
This form of provocative entertainment consequently, had a heavy influence on pole dancing and stripping in the USA and England – which would eventually spread around the world like wildfire.
In the history books, burlesque dancing dates back to the 1840s in America’s minstrel culture. But in London theatres it dates back even further, when Victorian Burlesque exploded in the 1830s to the 1890s – taking popular culture for the times like Shakespeare and Opera and turned it into a parody.
While the prohibition era took its toll on the industry, the genre had a resurgence in the 1950s with women like Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, Lili St. Cyr, Tempest Storm an BlazeStarr rising as boundary-pushing icons.
20th Century Burlesque gradually became more about the striptease and the elaborate, head-turning racy costumes.
It is said the first sighting of Burlesque dancing was by Little Egypt, who performed a belly dance and introduced the ‘Hootchie- kooch’ at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair – the show created a public stir – but the continuing moral outrage over burlesque only increased its attraction.
From the 1950s to the 1970sm burlesque’s popularity tapered off until the 1990s when it had another resurgence.
The new era of neo-burlesque has seen a worldwide revival with stars like Dita Von Teese, Perle Noire, Immodesty Blaize Miss Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas Muz and showing us just how this epic form of adult entertainment is done.
Image by Dita Von Tesse. Source: https://www.facebook.com/DitaVonTeese/photos/a.379367098762183/1985277261504484
Another culturally different form of dance to burlesque which had a significant influence on today’s adult entertainment industry is belly dancing. This form of dance and entertainment is an extremely ancient, with traces being found up to 6,000 years ago – It’s said some Pagan societies celebrated the fertility of a female as something magical by worshipping a feminine deity.
While there is controversy over exactly what the specific type of dance is belly dancing is known to originate from the Middle East (specifically Turkey and Egypt) and is believed to have had a strong India influence.
While belly dance is known to be a good way to prepare a women’s body to give birth to a child there doesn’t seem to be much evidence linking it to ancient fertility rituals or to early Pagan rituals. Nevertheless, over the past 40 years belly dancing has been undeniably associated with spirituality and feminine power.
Middle eastern dance made its way to the USA and Europe through Europeans travelling to Northern Africa and the Middle East in the later 1700s and through the 1800s.
The reactions to the dance were blended – some despised it and some adored it.
But belly dance isn’t the only ancient dance said to influence pole dancing and stripping– with African tribal dance, the ancient Sumerian Dance and the previously mentioned Hoochie Coochie Circus Sideshow Dancers in the USA in the late 18th century, playing essential roles in its evolution.
While it’s unclear exactly where pole-dancing originated from it seems all of the dance-genres involving performers of any such erotically suggestive or rhythmic writhing were often called exotic Dancing- which is largely associated with pole dancing.
It is said exotic dancing stems back to the Sumerian times – with an ancient myth depicting one of the first versions of a striptease.
The Goddess of love, Inanna, was said to have told stories through her dance of the seven veils… the dance represents the seven gates she must pass through to find Damouz, her partner and lover.
Inanna- ‘The Queen of the night’ by Santi Rodrigue
Pole Dancing is believed to further be inspired by Latin culture– with dances such as the Rumba and Tango.
Today, pole dancing is a mesh of ancient tribal dancing and is also a form of fitness.
While forms of erotic dance have been around for centuries in many Eastern Cultures it seems that it wasn’t publicly accepted until the 20th century (There is still people expressly against the growing industry and always will be – How prude!).
For years talented professional dancers around the world have turned pole dancing into an art form – as well as performing stripteases – with the removal of clothing to excite their audiences.
The term stripping was said to be first recorded in 1938, although is believed to have been about for several hundreds of years.
While the world’s first Playboy Club, Downtown, opened on February 29, 1960, in Chicago, USA, strip clubs like Spearmint Rhino opened in 1989 in California, really sparked the public popularity of the seemingly “underground” form of entertainment.
The craze began filtering through to the UK, with the club For Your Eyes Only starting up in Park Royal in 1995 and moving to the West End four years later.
All in all, the influence of erotic dance in Eastern Culture and its contributions to adult entertainment in the Westernised world is tremendous and deserving of our praise.
Pole-dancing and stripping haven’t only exploded into popular culture, but has trickled into the mainstream, with pole dancing classes (boasting stripping moves) now being held in countries all over the world.
Hell, there are even erotic dance classes available to help men and women give their significant other their own sexy private show.
The industry is booming and is now more morally excepted and less behind closed doors per say, than in its humble beginnings – and hey that’s probably where peep shows stemmed from.
Bucks and hens parties, strip clubs, topless waitresses at your local pub and at private events, sexy dancers at night clubs to liven the vibe, up you name it, they are all widely-excepted as part of the norm in our diverse and always evolving society.
Who knows what is yet to come and to be explored in the industry… it’s progress is proof you just can’t keep a good and necessary thing down.
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