A care home which invited pole dancers to perform for its elderly residents has said it may host more displays, rejecting claims the entertainment was “completely inappropriate”.
Local councillors were “staggered” to learn dance school students had performed for residents at Fairmile Grange in Christchurch, Dorset.
But the home’s managers said residents and their relatives had asked for a pole-dancing company to perform after requesting “more modern-style activities”.
Students from Dorset schools Pole Crazy and Pole Dance Factory performed to classic songs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s in the grounds of the 80-bed home, which cares for the elderly and people with dementia.
Some councillors objected to the display, which included music by Abba and Frank Sinatra.
“My view is that it is completely inappropriate for a care home,” Dorset county councillor Peter Hall told the Bournemouth Echo. “It’s not really the sort of entertainment I would have thought that the residents wanted or would have encouraged.”
Christchurch councillor Denise Jones said: “I’m a bit staggered about it. While I’m always delighted to see the horizons of older people widened, I’m not sure that includes pole dancing.”
The home’s operator, Encore Care Homes, said dancers wore gymnastics clothing during the “artistic display of musicality and gymnastic ability”.
It said residents could choose whether to attend and those who did “thoroughly enjoyed the performance”.
Izzy Nicholls, the company’s director of operations, said: “Relatives and residents requested more modern-style activities. Residents were given several choices of activity and specifically chose for a local pole dancing company to perform.
“This performance sport combines dance and acrobatics, requiring great physical strength and endurance.
“Dementia residents and non-dementia residents all thoroughly enjoyed this artistic display of musicality and gymnastic ability – and the showcase received overwhelming positive feedback from relatives.
“We are proud to challenge stereotypes and will continually offer our residents the choice to experience appropriate, new and progressive activities.”
Pole Crazy said residents “by all accounts had a wonderful time” and said critics misunderstood performers.
In a statement on Facebook, the dance school added: ”Sadly, as always with our sport, there are some who want to tarnish that, to diminish our strength, ability and self-worth.
“Pole dancing, pole fitness, pole sport – whatever you call it – it’s powerful, it’s fascinating and it’s fun to watch. If you think it’s tawdry, then that’s on you. If you want to take a wonderful thing and make it sordid, then get your mind out of the gutter and come to a class.”
A Care Quality Commission spokesman said: “Each care home will have their own policies/ways of working in terms of leisure/entertainment activities. In terms of our regulatory approach, making sure that people’s individual needs and wellbeing are being met is key.
“With regards to Pole Crazy, their website and Facebook page seems to market them as a providing a fitness activity. Our inspection team have spoken to the registered manager of Fairmile Grange who have informed us that the entertainers were wearing gymnastic clothing and people had a choice whether or not to attend the show.”
Pole dancing was provisionally recognised as a sport by the Global Association of International Sports Federation last year. The International Pole Sports Federation is working towards the activity being part of the Olympics.
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