Pole dance competition, convention returns to Tinley Park
By Mike Nolan email@example.com August 22, 2013 8:08PM
Lyndi Rongisch, of Nebraska, competes in the 2011 Great Midwest Pole Dance Competition. The convention and competition will take place again from Aug. 23 to 25, 2013, at the Tinley Park Convention Center. | File photo
Updated: September 24, 2013 6:17AM
Pole dancers from around the world will descend on Tinley Park this weekend for the third annual Great Midwest Pole Dance Competition and Convention and the North American Championships.
The three-day event at the Tinley Park Convention Center will also feature a vendor fair, workshops and classes.
Dancers have to pre-qualify for the event, and 48 competitors will take part in the championships, competing in four divisions, including one man, according to Mary Ellyn Weissman, organizer of the event.
While not competing, award-winning pole dancers from Australia, Canada and Mexico, including an Australian couple who have won several couples’ competitions, will be showcasing their talents, Weissman said.
It’s the third time that the competition and convention have been held in Tinley Park.
“We’ve grown (in attendance) each year,” she said, noting that nearly 400 people were at last year’s convention.
Weissman said she has been involved with pole dancing for 10 years and owns Empowerment Through Exotic Dance studios in Chicago Heights and Frankfort.
“Pole dancing has evolved more slowly in the Midwest than on the West Coast or East Coast,” she said.
Dancers who wanted to compete complained about the travel involved, and “it naturally came to my mind I would try to do something here” as far as an organized competition, she said.
Weissman founded Midwest Pole Dancing in August 2010, and held the first Midwest convention in Tinley Park the following summer.
She said the dance competition is more artistic than bawdy and lewd.
“I compare it to Cirque du Soleil on a pole rather than what people might see at a (strip) club,” Weissman said. “There are very strict, rigid standards for competitors.”
More information is at www.midwestpole
dancing.com. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door, with daily and weekend passes available. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday.