Who likes polka?

I just started listening to an online polka station. I never knew there were so many varieties. Was polka big at one time in the US? Does much polka music get played on anything other than specialist radio stations anymore? I read somewhere that it’s still very popular around Pittsburgh. From listening to the online station it seems there are regular enough polka events in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. So what’s the SD on this? Is it all for the oldies set or do some young people get a kick outta polka?

It’s still played on German TV every night. Folk music is big enough here that there are entire shows dedicated to it. The music videos usually consist of decidedly un-hip looking men cavorting around the Alps in Lederhosen with their accordions (or, for live performances, the same men in front of an alpine backdrop).

It was all over the place when I was growing up in Wisconsin in the 70’s. But within a few years it was driven off the radio and jukeboxes by corporate Country. AFAIK, it’s still played live at turner halls around the area.

There was a bit of difference in parts of the state based on the predominance of Germanic VS Slavic heritage. The Poles would disparage the modified waltz done by others as “German Hop,” not true polka.

I think it’s still pretty popular in the midwest, particularly in the more rural areas. Is the German Hop you’re talking about the same thing as the schottische?

That could be it. What bugged the purist Poles was that the Germans never disengaged: sedately keeping their hands rested on each others shoulders and hips, instead if flinging oneself away with on side and kicking every few steps.

To the OP, no, I personally don’t care for polka, since I discovered Cajun, which has an ironic combination of joy and world-weariness similar to Bebop. Along with Breton music, and even El Norte, I think Latins have done more with the accordion than the Teutons. YMMV.

My boyfriend has a channel on his FIOS that has a polka show. RFD-TV.

My family’s from small-town western PA, and around there, a couple isn’t officially married until they’ve danced a polka at the reception.

And apropos of this topic…

Still popular at weddings if anyone getting married is of Eastern European descent, here in Cleveland.

My friend (now 34) was in a polka band for many years after we graduated high school. I sat in with them once on trombone. Hardest style of music I ever played - lots of accidentals and lots and lots of notes. I think she was the youngest in the band by about 70 years. The band basically played at the local Czech club (you heard me) and the occasional local city fair.

I’d say it’s still pretty popular amongst the super old Eastern Europeans in NE Ohio. My Italian friends have no idea how to polka!

Central Europeans started settling in Texas before it was a state & brought their music. This site has a pretty good history of polka in Texas; polka dances & festivals continue.

Our Tejanos liked the accordions (& the beer); thus was born conjunto music. The article also links accordion-heavy cajun & zydeco; which genres don’t include as many polkas as the Tejanos play but are pretty fine music, anyway.

Brave Combo, up in Denton, began playing polkas because the founder wanted to avoid the trends of the late 70’s. Talented musicians in many genres, they still appear at polka festivals. (Lots of music at the website.)

I got a lot of polka vinyl records from an old man down the street from me at his garage sale. He didn’t want 'em. His loss! I put them on MP3’s with my USB turntable, only to find out someone had already posted a bunch to Youtube:


It seems the first tune I pulled out was a waltz. Oh well, it’s nice!

There used to be a weekly show in the Albany, NY area on one of the local, low-power radio stations. My Polish uncle used to record it and play it at family gatherings. No Idea if it’s still on, but I wouldn’t doubt it.
I can’t say that I really like it, but I certainly don’t mind listening to it.

Yes it totally depends on the region and ethnicity of the population. Growing up in Atlanta, and living in Nashville, you never, ever hear polka as a matter of course. There might be some “oktoberfest” event where it’s played, or you might hear it at a party/wedding reception of someone where it’s their heritage, but even then it’s rare.

Right out of college I worked at a chain record store here in Nashville. The headquarters for the company was in Minneapolis. Determination of what product we carried was made at the corporate level, as is normal. Almost every week like clockwork we’d get a copy of some polka album or another; they never sold. Yet, they NEVER sent us enough current country music. We’d get ONE copy of, say, a hot new country album. It would sell it that day, then we wouldn’t have any until then next week, when we’d get … one. Repeat ad nauseum.

I’m not sure I’d listen to a polka radio station for more than a few songs, but one of my guilty pleasures is the polka medley Weird Al Yankovic has on just about every one of his albums. He basically just takes all the choruses from popular songs of the day and puts them all into a long polka-riffic jam. Definitely worth checking out if you’re not familiar with them.

And you know why Weird Al does that, yes? His father was a leading polka bandleader.

Drive across Pennsylvania on a Sunday and assuming there’s radio reception where you are (it gets dicey in the mountains) you can find a polka party radio show to take you most of the way, assuming you aren’t driven insane after the first hour or so.

Weird Al Yankovic is not related to Frankie Yankovic

Polka is one of the original five (now eight) syllabus dances on the Country-Western competition dance circuit:


The complete list, should you wish to know what kind of company the polka is keeping, is:

Swing (East Coast)
Cha Cha

Swing (West Coast)
Nightclub Two-Step
Triple Two-Step
The DanceSport/USBDA crowd turns up their noses at the polka, but you see it on the floor, which is more than you can say for some of their syllabus dances (such as the Viennese waltz or the bolero).
“But wait! There’s more!”

The same 19th century composers who cranked out waltzes did polkas, too.

Huh. I coulda sworn I heard/read that directly from Weird Al.

Why likes polka?

Why? Is there a 12 step program? Actually I do really enjoy polkas (and chardash and oberek). I grew up in SW Pennsylvania in a family of Slovak descent in a area with lots of Slavs, Poles, Hungarians and other folks of Eastern European descent. I can remember going places as a child with polkas on the radio every Sunday. When I go to visit my folks I still tune in to Frank Powaski’s polka festival on WKHB.

Heck, I didn’t consider myself to be fully married until I danced the Redovy. And that was in 2002.

Anyway, does anyone know where to get polka music on CD? I’d like to get some for my parents.

I’m surprised by the accidentals. What keys do polkas gravitate to? I would have guessed good keyboard keys for the accordions, but is everything in clarinet-favoring keys instead?

Vassar College’s radio station in (“upstate”) New York still has a polka show on Saturday mornings. I use to listen while doing farm chores. It’s been around forever. Someone must be listening.