Talk about a traffic stopper: three pole dancers in central Poland have been honing their skills on street corners, throwing their legs around signposts to the surprise and delight of passersby.
Clad in black booty shorts and neon pink T-shirts on a recent afternoon in downtown Lodz, the barefoot and pony-tailed women checked the sidewalk for glass.
With all clear on the corner, it was time to hop on that signpost.
The trio first swung their bodies around signposts this spring for a photo shoot for their Avocadoo dance studio. Drawing a positive response from onlookers, they decided to make it a regular gig.
Since making its way over to Poland from the United States and Australia a few years ago, the performance art has flourished despite its sleazy stigma.
The women train regularly, usually indoors but at least once a week outside their studio in this working class city dubbed the Polish Manchester.
After warming up with stretches and jumping jacks, the women take to the signposts for an hour at a time. They swing around the pole, then hang upside down or straddle it crosslegged, with their leg and abdominal muscles on prominent display.
Flashing smiles and flipping around with gusto, the women channel Gene Kelly’s famous lamppost routine from “Singing in the Rain” — minus the music and the umbrella twirls.
But their toothy grins mask the enormous effort involved.
Not so with signposts. Often old and rusty, with the paint chipping off, they can tear up a hand. They also vary in size, making it tricky to get a good grip.
Where the ideal diameter is four to five centimetres (1.6-2.4 inches), street poles are much thicker and rougher to boot.
Beyond Poland, urban pole-dancing has also cropped up in places ranging from the streets of Mexico City to the London underground, creating a stream of double-takes and gawking among the admiring public.
No problems yet, said Kicinska, who got a honk of approval from a fire truck while pretzeling herself around a signpost.
She spoke too soon, however. Within an hour the trio caught the eye of two young policemen who asked whether they had a permit to slide around on signposts.
Unmoved, the officers took down their names and issued a warning, cutting short their street show — just that day.