I've come to the realization that there are several way to interpret pole dancing. The first, most common way is definitely the one related to "exotic dancing": this type of pole dancing originated as a form of entertainment and it's the "strip club inspired" one, where is often combined with sexy floor work, striptease and lap dancing. It's performed often to rock or hip hop songs, wearing nothing but a bikini and 6-7 inch platform heels. Basically a very erotic, explicit, provocative dance, undeniably kinda dirty.
Here's a really great example...
The second way to look at pole dancing is from a fitness point of view. Pole dancing can be done as a physical activity: a display of flexibility, strength, coordination, balance and -let me tell you- GUTS. Usually done without shoes, little to no sexy moves, some floor work and using two poles, one static and one spinning (for more dramatic spins and poses). It may lack personality at times since it's often executed in competitions and judged by professionals looking at perfect form and moves' precision.
A performance of this type
The third and last way to define pole dancing is by looking at it as a real form of art. It can assume a wide range of interpretations (costumes and acting performances often accompany it) and it's the most expressive way of pole dancing. It reaches a point accessible to only gymnasts and expert athletes which spend years and years of complete dedication. The pole itself is part of Circus's special tools like trapeze, hoop, hammock and silk (aerial art).
A beautiful video of artistic pole dance here
In my honest opinion, having witnessed all three, believe it or not...I'd stick with the first one. It might not be the best, but it's the one that most define what pole dance is about. I think it CAN be athletic and artistic, but at the core pole dancing is seduction, flirt; it's about unveiling your inner sexy persona, feel beautiful and boost your confidence.
Now get a pole at home and start playing! Lol :)