Though your first introduction to polka music may have been through Steve Urkel's energetic accordion solos on “Family Matters,” there is a lot more to the history of the music than you may know.
This year’s National Polka Festival is being held May 23 through 25. And in honor of the annual celebration of all things Polka, we’ve gathered 15 interesting facts about this style of music and dance.
1. It is impossible to verify precisely where the Polka dance originated.
2. The simplest version of Polka is done in 2/4 time, says Hub Pages.
3. The polka features three rapid steps and then a hop.
4. Contemporary musicians use several instruments in their bands, including accordions, guitars, electric basses.
5. It is believed the word "polka" may come from the Czech word “pulka,” which means “half step.”
6. Traditional polka instruments include clarinets, trombones, tubas and trumpets.
7. Polka is the only dance originating in the 19th century that has survived.
8. It is documented that a Czech farm worker named Anna Slazak created the “polka step” in Prague around 1830.
9. The Polish believe a different story, though. The claim that the dance was actually created in a Polish village and later popularized when a Czech traveled through the village and saw the dance.
10. The dance became a hit in Europe in the 1840s after a dance instructor based in Prague performed the polka in Paris, says Love to Know Dance.
11. Polka is a couple’s dance and is marked by its high energy and lively steps.
12. Polka experienced a decrease in popularity with the introduction of jazz, ragtime and the other fresh dances of the early 20th century.
13. Contemporary polka styles include Curaçaon polkas, Peruvian polkas and Polish-style polkas.
14. Polka experienced a revival of sorts after World War II, when Poles who immigrated to America claimed it as their nation’s official dance.
15. In 2009, the Polka category was eliminated by the National Academy of Recording Artists (Grammys).