Many schools in China begin the new school year with some sort of ceremony. These often include speeches and different types of performances, but no one expected a principal to ring in back-to-school season with a pole dancing show.
This happened at Xinshahui Kindergarten in Shenzhen, in the southern province of Guangdong. About 500 three-to-six-year-old children, along with about 100 parents, gathered in the courtyard of the school.
There, a female pole dancer started to perform. She wore revealing clothing and used the flag pole in her performance.
Parents, in complete shock, posted videos online of the pole dancer.
Shenzhen-based journalist Michael Standaert has a child who attended Xinshahui, and happened to be one of the parents who recorded the performance. He tweeted a short video clip, along with his frustration toward the school, and the administration:
Who would think this is a good idea? We’re trying to pull the kids out of school and get our tuition back. They wouldn’t give us the number of the company that owns the school, but looking into that.
Who would think this is a good idea? We're trying to pull the kids out of the school and get our tuition back. They wouldn't give us the number of the company that owns the school, but looking into that. pic.twitter.com/vEdIhuq774
— Michael Standaert (@mstandaert) September 3, 2018
He also noted that this isn’t the first unusual stunt for Principal Lai Rong. Before summer vacation, she implemented more than two school weeks of military activities that included machine guns.
So before our kids got out of kindergarten for the summer, there was 10 days of military ‘activities’ and displays of machine guns and mortars at the door; now the principal has welcomed them back with a strip pole dance on the flagpole bearing the PRC flag. She’s gone nuts.
She ended up getting fired as a result of this performance and the backlash from angry parents.
The principal hung up on my wife when she called after saying it was “international and good exercise” … okay, yeah for adults maybe, but not 3-6 year old kids. pic.twitter.com/OAw8S5ihzX
— Michael Standaert (@mstandaert) September 3, 2018
The local education bureau in the Bao’an district conducted an investigation after a number of parents complaining to police, and found that the pole dancer was invited to perform at the school.
They made the following comment on the incident:
Other schools in the district should reflect on this incident and strictly uphold education standards.
Lai told The Global Times, a state-run tabloid:
I may as well be dead. I already lost the hope to live.
Twitter was as disturbed as most of the parents, and possibly most of China.
— Denise Sevier-Fries (@denisesf5) September 5, 2018
What were they thinking?
— Nosak. (@lesson41) September 4, 2018
— Ronny Soetriyanto (@onieronny) September 4, 2018
Omg that is so weird!
— Jennifer (@jen_in_tenn) September 4, 2018
But wait! This isn’t the first time a pole dancer has been hired to perform at a school. In previous instances, however, it was the fault of a student and not a professional educator such as a principal.
One student called a stripper to perform at Grisham Middle School in Austin, Texas, and paid using his parent’s credit card. Once she arrived on campus and realized it was a middle school, she phoned the front office and explained the situation.
Principal Paige Hadziselimovic explained the incident in an email to parents:
Our staff handled the situation with the utmost decorum and professionalism. While regrettable, the incident had no negative impact on any students, other than the student who is responsible.
Pole-dancing is a popular form of exercise. Standaert had his wife phone the principal about the performance. Lai said it was “international and good exercise” before hanging up.
Plenty of people agreed with her:
It’s great exercise ♀️
— Vicki Gorman (@VickiGorman5) September 3, 2018
I think it’s great. Only deranged and repressed perverts automatically associate pole dance with sex. It’s an internationally recognised sport which is being considered for the Olympics. It requires high degrees of strength, flexibility and coordination.
— Niels Koschoreck (@NielsINT) September 4, 2018
But some agree that, while pole dancing can be a great form of exercise, this situation wasn’t appropriate.
Perhaps at a gymnasium, fully-clothed, it might have been different? Maybe?
I love Pole Art/Pole Technique..it is one of the most amazing workouts in the world…however, this lunatic wasn.t really displaying the “Sport” of it and the stripper heels and sexy dancing tossed it over into something NOT for children or a school setting!
— Bridgit (@BridgitUSA) September 4, 2018
Others insisted a pole-dancing performance is not appropriate for children:
Still not appropriate to be shown to kids.
— Rapmon's Big Feet (@Rapmonsbigfeet) September 4, 2018
For the Olympics not for the kindergarten children.Wait until they are older so they can decide to pole dance,please!
— Karen Edmonds (@KarenEd72318839) September 4, 2018
That's not appropriate for young children! I would be mad and take my kids out if there instantly!! What a dumb teacher!
— Shelley (@Shelley75939387) September 3, 2018
Parents asked for tuition refunds and removed their children from the school. Lai claimed she booked the dancer for her “excellent skills” but then gave a contradictory statement when she apologized to parents for a “horrific viewing experience” after not checking the dancer’s performance.