Polka Heartland: Why the Midwest Loves to Polka by Rick March, Dick Blau

By Rick March, Dick Blau

Polka Heartland captures the beat that pulses within the middle of Midwestern culture—the polka—and bargains up the interesting heritage of the way "oompah-pah" got here to be the sound of center the US. From the crowded dance tent at Pulaski Polka Days to an off-the-grid Mexican polka dance in small-town Wisconsin, Polka Heartland explores the folks, locations, and heritage at the back of the Midwest's favourite music.
From polka's extraordinary starting place tale as a state-of-the-art ecu fad to an exploration of the modern day polka scene, writer Rick March and photographer Dick Blau take readers on a cheerful romp via this loved, specific, and richly storied style. Polka Heartland describes the artists, venues, tools, and music-makers who've been pivotal to polka's attractiveness around the Midwest and provides six full-color picture galleries to immerse readers in today's shiny polka scene.

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Literary Awards
Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction Nominee for Longlist (2010)

Extra resources for Polka Heartland: Why the Midwest Loves to Polka

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Thus, it seems the polka fad emerged simultaneously among the middle and working classes and as a vogue trend in elite ballrooms. The best evidence indicates the fad likely began in Prague in 1835, spread to nearby Vienna in 1839, and then moved to Paris and London in 1844. 15 30 POLKA HEARTLAND It seems polka was introduced to England’s elite from French sources. ”16 But accounts in the English and Scottish provincial press indicate its penetration was not limited to urban London but was broad from the start.

And even if they play an old flute or violin to enjoy the softening art of music . . ”31 By the close of the nineteenth century, new immigrants continued to stream through Ellis Island, and the ethnic mosaic became ever more varied. Fast on the heels of the arrival of German immigrants came the Czechs, a famously polkaloving people who have contributed so much to the creation and dissemination of music. There followed other polka enthusiasts: Swiss, Poles, then Slovenes, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and many other eastern European groups.

If our concern is historical veracity, the origin stories all come up deficient. The sources of the information are obscure, usually not cited, and often unreliable. Moreover, the basic story seems unlikely. A single person demonstrates a couple’s dance. ” Did this rural schoolteacher happen to know dance notation? And were there enough people who could read that notation and become excited enough to begin a dance craze? T H E O R I G I N STO RY 27 Rather than an accurate history, the story sounds like Romantic-era hype used to promote polka as the popular fad it had become.

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