Austin America Statesman


Austin native climbs to top of competitive pole dancing

By American-Statesman staff Thursday, May  5, 2011, 10:44 AM

It’s not what you think, says Natasha Wang. She’s the new U.S. pole dance champion, and she’s a 1994 graduate of Westlake High School, where she was an honor student.

Though careful not to denigrate those who make a living with, um,  clothing-optional dancing (“It’s a sensitive topic among those of us who regard this as a sport”), Wang says she’s “definitely not part of the strip culture.”

Wang, who turned her advertising and French degrees from the University of Texas into a public-relations career in Los Angeles, says she began pole dancing 6½ years ago after a friend “literally dragged me” to a class.  Her initial opinion of the fitness trend that eventually would land her on the national TV news? “I thought, ‘That’s so stupid.’ “

Last Friday, the Austin native won the U.S. Pole Dance Championship in New York — her first trip to nationals — with a routine reminiscent of “Black Swan.” By Sunday, she was featured on CBS News in a piece about pole dancing’s efforts to shake the strip-club stigma and be recognized as a legitimate sport.