Moncton pole-art performer aims to dispel stigma after Ribfest cancels performance
A pole-art performer, who says her appearance at Moncton's Rotary Ribfest was cancelled moments before she was to take the stage, believes the decision was based on a misunderstanding about what she does.
Christine Johnson has been practising pole art for more than five years.
She also teaches lessons from her home, and has even placed first in multiple pole fitness competitions.
“When I'm dancing, when I'm flying, I'm doing my thing and I'm in the moment,” said Johnson, who says she's always cautious about the stigma around pole art
“I’m always careful when I talk about what I do, because if I call it pole-dancing, I often feel that right away people's minds just go to the wrong place.”
On Saturday afternoon, Johnson was scheduled to perform at Moncton's Rotary Ribfest, a popular food festival put on by the local Rotary Club of Moncton West and Riverview. Her performance was dedicated to a close friend battling brain cancer, but moments before she was about to take the stage they cancelled it.
“A friend of mine that was also a Rotarian came and she was in a panic and said ‘Christine, I'm sorry, but they're not going to let you go out,'" Johnson said.
Johnson says she was then approached by a different Rotary member who said her performance was not appropriate for the venue and that her costume was not “family friendly.”
“I tried to express myself right away and defend myself and say, ‘Oh no, you don't understand, have you ever seen Cirque de Soleil?’”
In a brief phone call Tuesday, an organizer for Ribfest refused to comment on the incident. But, in response to a post on the event's Facebook page criticizing the decision, the group said in part:
“We are also very disappointed with the way things turned out. Christine is a beautiful artist and didn't deserve how she was treated. An apology will be offered as we certainly recognize that an injustice occurred.”
Johnson took to Facebook to share her experience and she has since received hundreds of comments of support.
“The amount of support and feedback and love that I've gotten, I haven’t even responded yet because I'm so overwhelmed and I just feel so blessed.”
Despite her negative experience, Johnson says she has no ill will towards anyone involved in the decision.
“Clearly, there was just somewhere along the line it was a misunderstanding and communication wasn't good and they weren't informed or educated on what I was about to do,” she said.
Johnson says she also realizes that the views of some members of the Rotary Club are not shared by everyone.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Eilish Bonang.