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Is polka really dead?

If you live in New Jersey, like Polka and Polish food, and Polish tradition and culture, then you should make it a point to visit here every year:


It is right across the river, in Doylestown, PA, at the National Polish-American RC Shrine (The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa – Nonprofit Organization · Religious Organization · Catholic Church - https://czestochowa.us). They have live Polka bands, and tour busses come in from all over the Mid-Atlantic region for it.

The National Shrine is open year-round.

There's a Polish festival at a Polish church on River Road near Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ every May. My wife and I haven't been, but our daughter. her husband, or her friend try to go most years and bring me back a goodie bag. My wife's from KY, so she's not really a fan of the food and I hate crowds, so we've never been.
 
There's a Polish festival at a Polish church on River Road near Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ every May. My wife and I haven't been, but our daughter. her husband, or her friend try to go most years and bring me back a goodie bag. My wife's from KY, so she's not really a fan of the food, and I hate crowds, so we've never been.
 
Of course just north of me in Chicago there's a ton of Polish food available. We have a state holiday for Casimir Pulaski day.
 
To answer your question, NO. In my house the sounds of polkas, and obereks are common. Just like Jersey and Chicago, Connecticut has a large Polish community.
 

TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
It's not dead, but it's dying. No doubt about that. It's harder to find than it used to be. The bands that play polkas and such mix a lot of different music into their mix. Band members leave or die, and then the band has a hard time finding a replacement. There are some bands that have

A festival we've gone to since 1997 (except the last two years, of course) used to have no music playing but Czech polka (and such) bands. There were two tents where bands played from noon until midnight for two days, and it was all polka and such. Well, maybe there was a little country mixed in, but a little. These days, they still have polka bands, but they mostly are during the day and play to much smaller crowds than what came around 20-something years ago. There are some more popular bands that focus on a sort of rockish take on it (and that's actually pretty fun). There also are a couple bands that are generational or along those lines and have some rather young members.

I don't mean to be doom and gloom. It's still around, sure, and I'm very glad it is, but it ain't like it was even not very long ago. It's getting harder and harder to find.
 
Until a few decades ago, wedding dances in Nebraska/Kansas farm country were polka dominated. They were wild affairs, with lots of food, beer, booze, and fun. Since most rural settlers in this area in the latter 1800's were of German, Polish, Slovak and Bohemian decent, polka, waltzes and schottisches were the favored styles of music. Nowadays, these events have mobile DJ's for entertainment, playing the current hot tracks from pop, urban and country. You might get to dance to the Beer Barrel Polka at some of these post wedding parties, and not much otherwise that you could call polka. There are still farm communities in each state that have polka dances from time to time, and mostly attended by senior citizens. Sadly, in another generation, polkas could be a thing of the past out here in the farm belt.
 

Chandu

I Waxed The Badger.
I miss my mom's mishmash of Slovak, Polish, Hungarian food and desserts, that I grew up with. Sadly, that tradition was never passed on, at least in our family.
The one thing my family does from my paternal grandmother's side (Bohemian - Slovenia) is the potato dumplings. Not the fluffy baking powder type dumplings - these babies are are like rocks. Couple them with some duck or goose grease and a little salt and pepper... Good stuff.
 

Chandu

I Waxed The Badger.
Until a few decades ago, wedding dances in Nebraska/Kansas farm country were polka dominated. They were wild affairs, with lots of food, beer, booze, and fun. Since most rural settlers in this area in the latter 1800's were of German, Polish, Slovak and Bohemian decent, polka, waltzes and schottisches were the favored styles of music. Nowadays, these events have mobile DJ's for entertainment, playing the current hot tracks from pop, urban and country. You might get to dance to the Beer Barrel Polka at some of these post wedding parties, and not much otherwise that you could call polka. There are still farm communities in each state that have polka dances from time to time, and mostly attended by senior citizens. Sadly, in another generation, polkas could be a thing of the past out here in the farm belt.
In my state, MN, New Ulm has Heritage Fest and Lake Benton has a Polka Fest on Larry Olson's farm.

My uncles that I alluded to earlier spoke of a concertina player that used to go on the dance floor occasionally with a pretty girl, his arms around her, playing the concertina behind her back while they danced.

Personally, I'm a big fan of "real" country music, polka and blue grass.
 
I couldn't listen to it all the time but I rather enjoy polka. I remember the likes of the Six Fat Dutchmen, Frankie Yankovic and Whoopie John Wilfahrt from when I was a kid. My Dad told me a joke in his best Lawrence Welk impersonation, "And next on our show, Whoopie John Wilfahrt and his band will play!" (If you don't get it, try saying it out loud. :laugh:) Every now and then I'll catch a polka show on TV which I think is broadcast out of Mankato, MN. It's kind of a hoot with a live band and couples dancing.

A while back I was having lunch in a Mexican restaurant and I began to wonder why the conjunto/tejano music they were playing sounded so much like polka. After looking into it a bit I learned that way back in the day, German and eastern Europeans settlers brought their accordians, waltzes and polka music when they settled in southern Texas and northern Mexico where the local population adopted/adapted the music. I thought that was pretty cool and I really enjoy that type of music as well.
 
It's not dead, but it's dying. No doubt about that. It's harder to find than it used to be. The bands that play polkas and such mix a lot of different music into their mix. Band members leave or die, and then the band has a hard time finding a replacement. There are some bands that have

A festival we've gone to since 1997 (except the last two years, of course) used to have no music playing but Czech polka (and such) bands. There were two tents where bands played from noon until midnight for two days, and it was all polka and such. Well, maybe there was a little country mixed in, but a little. These days, they still have polka bands, but they mostly are during the day and play to much smaller crowds than what came around 20-something years ago. There are some more popular bands that focus on a sort of rockish take on it (and that's actually pretty fun). There also are a couple bands that are generational or along those lines and have some rather young members.

I don't mean to be doom and gloom. It's still around, sure, and I'm very glad it is, but it ain't like it was even not very long ago. It's getting harder and harder to find.
You wouldn’t be talking about Westfest in West, Tx would you? Fun times. 3 days of Kolaches, polka, sausage, and beer. So much beer.
 
Yes it does! That's where I grew up - just northeast of Hartford.
South Windsor?

Just to the west, Bloomfield, Torrington, and then south to New Britain have large active communities. You probably know of New Britain's "Little Poland" section?....where even the traffic signs are in English and Polish. They have their own facebook page!
Polkas dead? Nah, just gotta be in the right place 🇵🇱🥟🍻🙂
 
South Windsor?

Just to the west, Bloomfield, Torrington, and then south to New Britain have large active communities. You probably know of New Britain's "Little Poland" section?....where even the traffic signs are in English and Polish. They have their own facebook page!
Polkas dead? Nah, just gotta be in the right place 🇵🇱🥟🍻🙂
Yes sir, born and raised. Been living in the Ct western reserve for the last 30 years.

The Ct. I grew up in and appreciated doesn't exist anymore. This thread has been nostalgic for me because it brought back memories of family and place in which old world ethnic culture, that of my parents and grand parents generation, was an important part. Polkas certainly were a part of it, via my mom's side. Dad's side was that of old fashioned yankee work ethic.
 
Yes sir, born and raised. Been living in the Ct western reserve for the last 30 years.

The Ct. I grew up in and appreciated doesn't exist anymore. This thread has been nostalgic for me because it brought back memories of family and place in which old world ethnic culture, that of my parents and grand parents generation, was an important part. Polkas certainly were a part of it, via my mom's side. Dad's side was that of old fashioned yankee work ethic.
Very true, things have changed and not for the better, so it seems. I'm with you all the way on the family memories of culture (and morals) brought here from Poland by all 4 of my grandparents in the 1800's. I was born, raised and a lifelong resident (66years shortly) of the same NW CT city. I still like it here, but definitely miss the good old days. And I still listen to real polka's....keeps me sane!
 
Seems like it’s not going anywhere but only holds strong through regional and cultural traditions and mostly with older generations. I can’t help but feel like it’s treated as a novelty through popular culture. In Oregon the only time you hear polka music is at the yearly Oktoberfest where people gather for Pilsners and sausages for the benefit of the local City of Commerce/Downtown association. Not dead but put on a shelf to be used on occasion. The band is live though, so there are still some dudes out there playing.
 
I don't think it will ever die out completely as long as there are enclaves here and there that value their heritage. Its all cyclical of course. Pretty soon "retro" in will be back in and a new generation will embrace what older generations enjoyed as a matter of course. And for Poles (and others) Polkas will be a part of it. I'm optimistic for it. When we lived on the west side not so long ago we used to go to the Duck-Tape parade (they're headquartered in Avon), and the last time we went there was a highschool polka band riding in a trailer in the parade. Great fun.
 
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