For many years pole dancing has been synonymous with sleaze and sex, an image encouraged by the entertainment industry which has long used strip clubs as a background for seedy scenes in movies and music videos.

It wasn’t until recently that the stigma surrounding pole dancing was lifted after women, and men, from all around the world began to participate in the activity. One person who has really found their rhythm by pole dancing is 36-year-old Erin Clark.

Clark, who has been disabled her whole life due to a spinal defect, became hooked on the sport after having her first pole dancing lesson last April.

“Pole dancing, it represents something that’s important to me,” the Canadian-born dancer told BarcroftTV. “A constant part of my life [I have been] segregated and discriminated against,” she added. Now Clark is winning awards for her pole performances and campaigning for more inclusivity in the sport.

You’ll be stunned when you see just what she can do…

“I know that there’s an assumption that because I’m deformed and can’t walk, that I should definitely be uncomfortable with my body and not like it and want to change it. I’m just confident with it. I can’t sincerely say that I struggle with body confidence … I have always naturally felt comfortable in my body. I don’t like how people treat me based on how it looks to them.

I did not consider pole dancing inclusive. Having a disabled person show up does not indicate inclusivity. It means that it’s more likely that person is doing a whole lot of adapting to an environment that is not equipped for them. There are not a lot of disabled pole dancers.

“The first time that I competed there was no disabled category and I had some concerns about the reasons I was accepted because there wasn’t any system for me to be judged. So what was their intention behind having me on stage?

“I love to win. I like to win for real though, you know? Like I don’t want it to be given to me just because I showed up. I want to be the best. I want everyone to know that I am the best, or at the very least, I want to be very good.

“Inclusivity [and] accessibility do not happen by accident. They are very deliberate processes that, you know, involve thought and action. Most of the world isn’t inclusive.”

There can be no denying that Clark is a force to be reckoned with. Her confidence and strength is enviable and no doubt the thing that’ll ensure her success as she tries to change the way the world approaches people with disabilities in pole dancing.