Intense training sessions and gravity-defying stunts are all in a day’s work for Louis Sue, one of Singapore’s only professional male pole dancers. Teenage speaks with the 24-year-old on his unique career and his experiences thus far.

Let’s get straight to it: where pole dancing is concerned, there are certain social stigmas that brand the dance form, such as being overly sexual and feminine – but it’s time to ditch any preconceived notions about pole-dancing. An ever-evolving sport that requires high levels of strength, flexibility and endurance, pole dancing is shifting towards mainstream fitness. Guiding us through is Louis Sue, a professional male pole dancer/dance instructor at PoleLAB, and the reigning SG Pole Challenge 2016 winner, who defies the conventional in his quest to be at the top of the game, gravity-defying stunts and all.

 

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How did you get started in pole dancing?

Flexibility. This was something I struggled with from the beginning. The other would be pain tolerance. There are moves that require a lot of leg grip, which is also why we tend to wear so little because we need that friction on our skin – most guys tend to use brute force. Off-pole, I’d say it’s the judgement. When talking about pole dancing, you wouldn’t think of a guy doing it. Moreover, there’s a stigma that pole dancing is very sexy. But in actual fact, there are different aspects and styles that require a lot of effort. The style I go for includes acrobatic and gymnastic elements. It’s moving towards more ‘pole fitness’ rather than ‘pole dancing’.

I started pole dancing during my army days. I was looking for something that incorporated both dance and fitness – it was either this or breakdancing. Coincidentally, my friend and sister had started pole dancing so I tagged along for a trial lesson. It felt different and fun, so I never looked back.

Why did you stick to pole dancing instead of exploring other dance options?

It was more of the fact that pole dancing is very unique. For example, it’s normal to see guys who breakdance. But to suddenly have this niche – I started out quite strong and from there I continued and the more I progressed, the more I didn’t want to stop.

What’s the most difficult thing about pole dancing for you? 

 

A post shared by Louis Sue Jun Zong (@louis_sjz) on

Flexibility. This was something I struggled with from the beginning. The other would be pain tolerance. There are moves that require a lot of leg grip, which is also why we tend to wear so little because we need that friction on our skin – most guys tend to use brute force.  Off-pole, I’d say it’s the judgement. When talking about pole dancing, you wouldn’t think of a guy doing it. Moreover, there’s a stigma that pole dancing is very sexy. But in actual fact, there are different aspects and styles that require a lot of effort. The style I go for includes acrobatic and gymnastic elements. It’s moving towards more ‘pole fitness’ rather than ‘pole dancing’.

What aspect of pole dancing do you like the most?

For me, it’s showcasing tricks to people who are not open about pole dancing. When it comes to doing certain moves, people think it’s pure strength but it’s also technique. Pole dancing is always evolving; people are always inventing new moves. It’s nice to see what you can do with just a pole.

You choreograph your own performances. What are your main considerations?

 

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Firstly, it’d be the type of pole, the style and duration and even the venue of your performance. In a normal performance, you try to think of what the audience wants to see and showcase cool tricks. For competitive pole dancing, you’ll have to do exceptionally well in all aspects. It’s more of coming up with unexpected new moves – the judges are experts themselves and you have to give them something to look forward to rather than just the same old tricks.

What’s the pole dancing scene in Singapore like?

As of now, it’s mostly female-dominated. I really hope that more guys can be open to it, and that people won’t think that it’s just risqué dancing. With regards to the dancers themselves, most of them are quite reserved and are not ready to go all out to nail difficult tricks. I hope to see more people going for advanced moves and stunts.

What keeps you motivated?

 

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For now, I would consider myself to be one of the main people to go to if you want to learn advanced tricks and flips. I’m competitive and I really want to do well in this. I hope to compete on an international level someday, so that’s my driving factor.

You’re currently juggling a full-time job, a part-time instructor gig and training competitively. How do you manage your busy schedule?

My colleagues are really supportive especially when it comes to catering to my schedule. I don’t get to be around my family that much, but they understand that I need to focus and work hard [on my passion].

What’s an advice you’d offer to those who’d like to pursue their own passions?

I’d say to go at it hard. If you really want it, you have to prove it and show results. It can’t be all talk. I had that dilemma too, whether I should go to work, continue my studies or pursue pole dancing. My first competition was a gauge for me. Even though I was up against professionals, I trained hard ad managed to clinch the winning title. This was a major push for me to pursue pole dancing on a professional level. With that being said, it’s important to always have a backup plan. Even if I didn’t win, I wouldn’t give up the dream entirely, I’ll find ways to work around it.

This article was adapted from Teenage May Issue 2017.  

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