Behind the bars covering Club Sparks is a new kind of sausagefest bar game.

Hop On 

Behind the bars covering Club Sparks is a new kind of sausagefest bar game.

At Pole-a-Palooza — a pole-dancing competition at Club Sparks — the rules required that all lady parts stay covered. But after seeing so many splayed legs in a 45-minute span, I'm still calling the event Crotch-a-Palooza.

Held on a Sunday night, Pole-a-Palooza was pretty entertaining, especially because of the impressive athleticism of a couple of performers. And, in addition to the professional dancers, a couple of gutsy amateurs also showed up to vie for the $500 prize. Among the novices was one drunk chick whose main move was to lick the pole.

Located on Kansas Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, Club Sparks looked slightly sketchy from the outside, thanks to the bars covering the door and windows. However, the dubious exterior belied the nice interior. It was very clean, and the barchitecture was cool. A big flat-screen stood behind the bar; around it were light-colored wood shelves that held bottles of liquor. The walls of the rectangular room were painted red and black. The floor-to-ceiling pole was installed on the cozy dance floor, which was surrounded by mirrored panels. Beyong the dance floor was a VIP nook and a back room, which served as a dressing room for the contestants.

After the quick walk-through, research-assistant-slash-photographer Jenni and I headed for the bar. We didn't see any beer on tap, but a cooler held Tecate cans and bottles of Corona and Dos Equis. We ordered $4 Coronas and sat at the end of a long table. The bar started to fill up fairly quickly. Of course, guys made up a majority of the crowd. They lined up on the bar stools for the best view of the pole and readied their cell phones to take pictures and video. One stout man wore a black T-shirt that had a silhouette of a stripper working a pole, with the message, "I support single moms."

Jenni and I decided to go into the back room to chat with the contestants. That's where we met Star, a 22-year-old dancer at Gerry's Silver Slipper. Before she consented to talk, she checked with her mom, who said it was OK. Star told us that she's been dancing for three years. She sported a navy-blue, polka-dotted bikini that consisted of two fluttery triangles that hung over her breasts. The triangles were attached by straps that left the underside of her cleavage exposed. I asked if she had a signature move. She stated, rather matter-of-factly, that she could do a flip off the pole from an upside-down position.

Then, a lanky blond chick stumbled in. She sported a vintage pink Go-Go's shirt and a denim miniskirt and told us that she was a "cornfed girl from Minnesota." She was an amateur who entered the contest only because she lost a bet. Then she got skittish and scampered off. As she left the back room, she passed two tall women making out in the dim hallway. One had a Posh Spice hairdo, only it was colored red with blond streaks. Her arms were festooned with tattoos, including one that looked like Amelia Earhart. Her partner was a statuesque brunette in a black dress. At one point, Redhead Posh made a faux going-down move on the brunette. Later, we saw Posh giving a blonde a humping lap dance in the front room, to the delight of the sausagefest crowd.

After that preshow, I met another contestant. Amy, a pretty, 34-year-old, busty blonde, was friends with Cornfed and sported a Lone Star flag bikini. She said she's a stay-at-home, single mom from Olathe and didn't realize the nature of the competition. "I honestly thought this was a bikini contest when I got here," she said. I asked if she had ever been on a pole before. She replied that she was once on a party bus that had one. "If I remember right, I fell flat on my ass," she said. Before the contest started, Star showed her how to swing around a pole by using a support beam. Amy followed suit and, even though her execution wasn't smooth, she did all right.

The contest started. A couple of Sparks staffers judged on technical performance, creativity, overall performance and audience response. DJ Highnoone cued the music. The first performer was Riley of Fantasy Fitness, which helped sponsor the event. She was a small-busted, muscular brunette who was clad in a black-lace bikini top and bottoms that were practically thong-style. She turned out a routine that consisted of low splits, butt-muscle-shaking, hanging upside down, and even hanging sideways from the pole.

Then Cornfed was up. By this time, she was fairly lit. She came out in her triathlon suit, a relatively conservative pink-and-orange-striped two-piece, as well as black sandals with 4-inch heels. She gripped the pole with two hands, stuck her ass out and shook it hard. Then she strutted to the side of the dance floor and grabbed a chair. She tried to sexily fling the chair closer to the pole, but the chair skittered away from her a little bit. She held the back of the chair and wiggled her butt; then she grabbed the pole with both hands and started lapping it with her tongue. The crowd kind of cheered. After that, she stuck a couple of fingers in her mouth and sucked them.

Her grand finale was to pull up her top to flash the crowd. She then shook her torso so that her boobs bobbled from side to side. More cheers from the peanut gallery. She triumphantly strolled off the dance floor. She passed the row of guys who set up their bar stools up in front and continuously documented the action on their cell phones. "Yay! Get out of the way!" said a bald one in jorts, simultaneously cheering and dismissing her as she walked by him.

Amy was up next, and while her polework wasn't smooth, she held her own. She said her innermost fantasy was to be a stripper, and she chalked up her self-confidence to working at Hooters for six years.

Next up was a voluptuous woman with huge hoop earrings. Her dark hair was slicked back into a ponytail, and her bikini consisted of three small triangles with linguini-thin straps. Her performance was athletic and jiggly. At one point, she lay on her back on the floor and lifted her legs into the air while bouncing her ass in double-time rhythm. A guy in a white shirt, who had briefly taken over the MC duties, called out, "Bounce it like a basketball!"

Then Star took her turn. She dropped from high up on the pole into doing splits on the floor. Her mom threw a dollar on the floor during her performance. It was no surprise when she won. Afterward, we went backstage to congratulate her. She said that with her winnings, she was going to rent the club for a gay/lesbian/bi night in August. Her mom said that in the R&B community, there was no place for GLB nights, and that the ones here were more techno-based.

"You must be proud of your daughter," I said.

"I'm proud she got a full-time job besides dancing," her supportive mom replied.

After the contest ended, the floor opened to the crowd. A woman in a red top and trousers worked the pole. Amy, Riley and another chick sandwiched each other. Jenni and I decided to take off. We'd seen enough parts, covered and not.

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