Polish-American Polka Demonstration (35 seconds)
DT: Morley, we have used music written and played by the Walt Wagner Polka Band. As polka music goes, would you say it's slow, fast or medium?
Morley: It’s slightly more than medium but not fast.
DT: So half the music is faster and half slower.
Morley: It depends on the band. Usually the band will play a similar tempo throughout the evening, and people know which bands play faster or slower and have their preferences based on that and other qualities.
Monique: The tempos are not exactly the same but the range from slower to faster for each band is narrower than in other kinds of dance music, say like for swing bands for example. Swing bands might play some slow numbers and some very fast numbers, but polka bands play a narrower range of tempos.
DT: Do you think that’s a deficiency in polka bands?
Monique: Not for polka dancers because a lot of polka dancers will like ...for example there’s one polka band that is very popular and dancers like that band because they are consistent. Their music is predictable. They like to have something that is, you know, more or less the same speed, and they like it when the speed doesn’t change too much.
Morley: Polka music is almost all live music. It’s rare that you would go to a dance that was DJ.
DT: Morley and Monique, there are dances for which there are no special events – as least as far as we know. There are no specifically quick step dances or cha cha dances for instance. Most dances are presented in a mix with other dances, the biggest category being ballroom perhaps. Do polka events provide any variety?
Morley: The variety at a polka dances comes when they play quote “American Music” where they will play ballads, foxtrot, swing and maybe a rumba or two.
Monique: Actually, traditional polka bands will play polkas plus waltzes and obereks. Traditional polka bands, this is what they will play. It’s only certain polka bands that will play “American Music”.
DT: Is there a specifically polka waltz, like there is a tango waltz?
Monique: No. It’s just a polka band playing a waltz.
DT: So you wouldn’t do the polka figures to the....Well, that would be difficult, wouldn’t it?! (laughter)
Morley: There are people who do polka figures to waltz!
DT: Monique, you called Canada home for 3 decades. Growing up, did you ever see any polka there?
Monique: Not much.
DT: How about dancing in general?
Monique: In Canada? There is more dancing, it is more central, I think, than in the United States. I think though there are more male dancers in the United States than in Canada. When I came here I saw a definite improvement in the number of men dancing.
DT: I ask because in terms of growing up not too long ago in the United States, boys did not dance and girls did not participate in sports without having to buck the prevailing view of what boys and girls should be doing. Now, happily I believe, there is not only a pronounced acceptance of women in sports, but also less resistance to dance as a male activity. Do you think so?
Monique: Yes, and we love to see that.
That's all for Polish-American Polka. Hope to see you back in late March or early April, 2003 for Polish-American Polka 2, "Polka for Show-Offs". Until then, have a ball!
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