Man Up: Pole Dancing Competition Has its 1st Male Champion

Josiah Grant took home the 1st place trophy during Saturday's North American Pole Dance Championship at the Tinley Park Convention Center. Check out his winning routine.

Josiah Grant won first place in the North American Pole Dance Championship held Saturday, Aug. 24, in Tinley Park. | Credit: Joe Vince
Josiah Grant won first place in the North American Pole Dance Championship held Saturday, Aug. 24, in Tinley Park. | Credit: Joe Vince

During Saturday night's North American Pole Dance Championship at the Tinley Park Convention Center, Josiah Grant chose Prince's "Kiss" to perform to.

But "Sign O' the Times" might have been a more appropriate track as Grant, 25, became the first male to win the competition at a time when more men are participating in the sport. In fact, event organizers decided to add a men's division in 2014 even before Grant picked up his trophy and invitation to compete in next year's Pole Championship Series Finals.

The championship is part of the Great Midwest Pole Dancing Convention, a three-day event in its third year that is part competition, networking opportunity and trade show for the pole dancing community.

READ: Take a Spin With This Weekend's Pole Dancing Competitors

"I think the weekend went fantastic," Mary Ellyn Weissman, one of the organizers and owner of Empowerment Through Exotic Dance in Chicago Heights, said Sunday. "We had great turnout. … We had very good response from everybody about how much fun they had."

This year's convention attracted about 400 people over the weekend, including participants, vendors and the plain curious, Weissman said, adding the event has grown from its small one-day beginning in 2011. Next year's convention will be a week earlier, from Aug. 15 to 17.

Although next year's move to create a men's division will try to continue to expand the convention's scope and attendance base, that wasn't the main reason for the addition, according to Weissman.

"We've had requests to do a men's division," she said. "The men are intimidated about competing against women because they feel they can't beat their flow and their movement and the lines and the grace. And the women are intimidated competing against men because they feel they can't compete with the strength.

"I think Josiah kinda proved that all wrong last night because besides the extra strength, he also had the flow and the grace and movement," Weissman added. "So it was kind of funny to make that announcement after he was the first-place winner. But I think it will draw more men into the competition."

While Grant, who lives in Los Angeles, might have been the event's first male winner, he wasn't its first male competitor. Last year, a performer from Mexico participated, and this year, the competition received applications from several male dancers who didn't make the cut, Weissman said.

Grant's victory marks the culmination of almost a decade of hard work in the sport, starting when he was 16. He doesn't hide the fact that he worked as a stripper originally—although he was never a "bad boy," he said—before becoming a pole dancing instructor and touring the country, teaching others. In fact, Grant told fans wanting to learn his moves Saturday night that if they contacted him through his Facebook page, he would give them free tutorials.

While many in the pole dancing community are involved in the sport as a fun way to stay fit, Grant looks at it as a form of artistic expression. He also has more than a little pride in the fact that he's a pioneer in the sport as one of the few men competing at such a high level.

Check out Patch's video interview with Grant for a look at his winning performance and what it was like to hear his name called as the first-place champion. Special thanks to Don Curry, of Don Q Photography and the photographer and videographer of the Great Midwest Pole Dancing Convention for providing additional footage.
Joe Vince August 26, 2013 at 05:49 PM
@Bruce: You might want to read the entire story before commenting. Also, strength is judged in the context of the individual, not across the board. But keep reading the story. —Joe Vince, Tinley Park-Oak Forest Patch Editor
Wendy Reed August 26, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Awesome!! I love your goals and that you are thankful to God...Congratulations!!


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