Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Polerize destigmatizes sex work, empowers performers through NU’s first pole dance show

Polerize+opens+the+show+with+angry+undertones+to+emphasize+the+importance+of+destigmatizing+sex+work.+%0A
Mary Randolph/The Daily Northwestern
Polerize opens the show with angry undertones to emphasize the importance of destigmatizing sex work.

Audiences gasped and cheered as pole dancers performed acrobatic sequences across the stage and a series of poles in Lutkin Hall Friday.

Northwestern’s Polerize produced its inaugural show — and NU’s first-ever pole dancing show — “Wildest Fantasies,” with student dancers like “Wolfsbane” and “Solitaire” performing pole routines to music including “Streets (Silhouette Remix)” by Doja Cat and “Movement” by Hozier.

With over 50 people in attendance at the 7 p.m. show and around 100 at the 9:30 p.m., the 90-minute performances were dedicated to destigmatizing sex work and promoting confidence for the 19 performers through the art of pole dancing.

Weinberg freshman and performer Amelia Wilson said she had no prior experience with pole dancing but that performing made her more confident.

“It is really empowering in a way that it’s kind of helped me get out of my shell,” she said. “It helped me get that sense of confidence and understand who I am and how I want to proceed to really just be myself.”

The premise of the show wasn’t just tailored to the individual performers. It was meant to promote the voices of sex workers and sex work organizations, said Weinberg senior and Polerize co-Founder Greta McNamee, who started Polerize with a group of co-founders in 2022.

McNamee said the performance sought to join the grassroots movement to pay homage to the origins of sex work. She said she hopes their efforts won’t whitewash or appropriate the art that originally came from Black sex workers.

“It’s important to just spread that message for everyone who gets to be exposed to what we do so that they get an idea that this is something you should care about,” McNamee said. “It shouldn’t be too crazy to believe that sex workers are, in fact, people.”

To contribute to this mission, Polerize used its proceeds to employ professional pole dancers from Siren, a Chicago pole dancing studio, to teach current members how to pole dance.

Despite many of the performers’ lack of experience pole dancing, audience member Laura Symons said she was particularly impressed by their capabilities.

“I thought it was fantastic,” Symons said. “The confidence these individuals show and the strength and the beauty, it was amazing.”

A non-NU producer crafted the music and choreography to the show’s theme of “Wildest Fantasies.”

The “wildest” aspect of the theme emphasized anger at the stigmas towards pole dancers with the track “Crazy” by Doechii, while the “fantasies” aspect represents the camaraderie of Polerize members, McNamee said.

The initiative began with “pole jams,” or open workshops, where students from the NU community could explore their interests.

The co-founders then introduced an interest form for potential members who would be open to performing in the showcase. Yet, they didn’t know it would become the full-fledged performance of “Wildest Fantasies.”

“I love what we’ve created,” McNamee said. “I feel more confident than ever that it’s going to be able to outlast my time at Northwestern.”

Email: [email protected]
X: @betsy_lecy

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