This post was edited by expatter at 2012-1-31 16:51|
A 23-year-old Chinese man has carved out an unusual career - as a professional pole dancer.
Ha Tao says he has been obsessed by the activity since first seeing a woman pole dance in a pub six years ago.
"I was so attracted by her dancing that I completely forgot my friends and just stared at her the whole night," he said.
"I thought it was something that I could do. My friends scoffed and said it was just for women but I was determined."
However, his home town, Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong Province, has something of a macho reputation and local dance schools refused to teach him because he was a man.
Ha started learning at home by watching videos and eventually moved away from home to Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, where he found a dance school prepared to take him.
"During the day, I learnt the skills in the training school, while at night I danced in pubs to earn the tuition fees," he said.
After five years, he came back home an accomplished pole dancer and says he now earns £6,000 a month dancing, and also works as a pole dancing instructor.
"It's a living that I couldn't even imagine before. But I care more about my dancing. Money is not that important to me as long as I am doing what I like," he added.
"Some people still yell at me when I dance because I am a man, and some even throw fluorescent sticks at me, but pole dancing is my life. I won't give it up."