Country and Western > Wait a sec.... Polka?

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by Boynextdoor, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Plus, it is a great workout :)
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Point of interest, by 1921, the world champ. had 7 dances, one was the " Spanish Schottische ", thus placing it firmly in the ballroom genre . This was pre dated in the early 19th cent. by plain Polka danced in the " Assemblies " ( public dance halls " ). The origin of the word is " half step in each bar " from the czech. word " Pulk "
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Not convinced polka is country yet?
    Tex Williams was a very popular Western Swing musician in the 1940s. He also starred in about a dozen cowboy movies.
    Hey, look! Three polkas in this Tex Williams collection.
    I wonder if he played them in LA when he was popular there? That would be just about the same time he was playing Western Swing that people were jitterbugging to. Come to think of it, lots of those folks were from Texas and Oklahoma and were there for jobs in the defense industry because of WWII. By golly, they probably liked to dance polka, too. Never thought of that one before.
  4. folkfiddle

    folkfiddle New Member

    I think that people who REALLY love to polka... will dance the polka to almost anything! We played for an anniversary party several years ago... the family LOVED to polka! They danced to all of our music! Fiddle tunes, bluegrass songs, folk songs, etc. However... when we played waltzes.... they waltzed. :)
  5. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Ya' gotta know that we're mainly Swing dancers, so with that said . . .

    We went to a similar party, and no matter what they played . . . with the exception of a Waltz every 4 or 5 songs, everyone did a continuously-turning-'til-your-dizzy Polka to the same music by the same accordian-playing singer and his band (which sounded great BTW) . . . and although I tried my best to look and act comfortable, my wife and I, and our friends could only take so much of the same sound . . . we left very early!

    We went to a ballroom dance on the other side of town, watched all of those "happy ballroom dancers," then we left there, and went back to the more exciting Polka fest!
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    After running across "Tennessee Tango" I looked around for some info on Pee Wee King. Turns out he wrote and recorded "Tennessee Waltz" in 1947. Patti Page recorded the better known, bigger selling version in 1950.
    Pee Wee was from Wisconsin, was Polish, and played polkas, among other things, on the Grand Ole Opry in the 40s.
    Read all about it here
    So, there you go, polka on the Grand Ole Opry. It doesn't get any more country than that.
  7. Gypsy Wishing

    Gypsy Wishing New Member

    Is their anyone else out that thinks country music, with a strong syncopate, goes thumpa dump instead of om pah pah, and that samba stying and steps are a better listening fit than polka.
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'm going to assume that your "thumpa dump" wasn't written with a certain intent and go on to country music in general.
    A few days ago I wrote about the sophistication in some songs that come under the broad umbrella of "country". That example was Garth Brooks' "Cowboy Bill", a waltz.
    "Country" music has embraced many different rhythms, instruments, styles, etc during the past century. Country Western dance includes a bunch of different dances to go along with the variety of music that is "country".
    One dance that is popular at country venues is Night Club Two Step, which is mostly danced to slow songs. If the song is fast enough, I'll throw in a bunch of salsa stuff, which feels more natural with a faster beat, but stays with the quick quick slow of Night Club.
    Give a listen to Cowboy Troy's "I Play Chicken with the Train" on and think about how you would dance to that one.
    Western Swing is another kind of music that is labeled "country", but is a lot more swing/ jazz, and in its heydays back in the 1940s rivaled the much better know Big Band Swing outfits ala Swing Kids.
    If you hear samba in a "country" song, dance samba. If you hear samba in every "country" song.....
  9. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Steve, I always get intrigued with your mixing of dances. How do you keep in the character of a the dance? For instance, throwing salsa moves in NC2? Just taking something simple like a cross-body lead. How does the lady know you want her to run, run, run as in NC2 vs salsa's 5,6,7 in-place? I think any of the ladies I know who are good enough to follow my core are good enough to know my awesome latin hip motion isn't making a very smooth NC2?
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In my world view there are steps that you do, and there is how you do the steps. How you do the steps, combined with posture and other elements, is style. Steps are steps. Moves are moves. How you do them is styling.
    These are the basic steps for the two dances, Salsa, and Night Club Two Step, as I have learned them.
    The Night Club Two Step Basic is quick quick slow with the quick quick being a rock step, and the slow being a side step.
    Salsa Basic is quick quick slow with the quick quick being a rock step forward starting with the left foot for the man.
    The "timing" (ie qq s) of the steps is the same.
    In salsa I was taught to step onto a basically straight leg when stepping forward, with my feet at about a 45 degree angle outward. This emphasizes the natural hip motion when stepping. The connection is a bit "tight" and occurs with the leader’s and follower’s arm being nearly perpendicular. This tighter, more energized connection between partners aids is exchanging and directing the higher energy level in salsa (the music is faster).
    NC2S is much more relaxed. There is less energy in the music, so the connection is less intense, and hip motion is "natural" since there is no specific way to stand or move.
    (I see people doing a pivoting movement to the side that is chained together in NC2S. I do that, too. But when I do it, we are still doing quick quick slow, quick quick slow. Not run run run.)

    All of this is of course in general, and maybe we should note that I only took Salsa lessons for three months, and don’t really consider myself to be a Salsa dancer.
    So, with one of my better partners, when the music is faster, but it's at the country place, I just switch to moving forward and backward instead of side to side, and leave out the salsa styling by stepping "naturally'.
    Sometimes I will ask them to create a better connection with my left hand as in salsa. (Teaching on the dance floor! You know what? The women who accept input on the floor learn stuff for free that the other ones take how long, and how many bucks to learn? If it's not welcome, I just leave them alone.)

    OK. Cross body lead.
    The way I learned salsa, and any other dance (except Argentine Tango) is that the timing of the steps does not change no matter what you are doing. So, the timing for a cross body lead is the same as a basic: quick quick slow. * (see the next post for more on this) I am just asking her to step forward and "around" me when she steps forward on her right.
    Doing this usually is disconcerting for most women, the first time. Because, after all, they never learned this in a lesson. Maybe it’s not even a NC2S move! But, the better ones figure out that I’m not asking them to do anything except move in a direction that they aren’t familiar with (sometimes with a little verbal hint to "just keep doing your steps"). There's a bit more to it than that, but that is the essence of it. We work out the details through repetition.
    The partners that I cherish are the ones who enjoy trying out new things. One of my best dance buddies used to say, "No blood on the dance floor" when something went weird and I apologized to her for messing it up.
    I enjoyed dancing with her so much that I would literally think through new things to do while I was falling asleep at night.
    So, just try leaving out the awesome Latin hip motion when you do NC2.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    No matter the dance, if the steps change it creates a lot of confusion (again except for AT). At "my" country western place one of the instructors teaches the turns as quick quick quick for the woman. He does not, however, tell the men to change their steps from the two step quick quick slow, slow. This explains why so many women who take his lessons have to look at the guy’s feet to figure out what foot he is on.
    If I can get the woman to stay with quick quick slow, slow in two step (Again, teaching on the dance floor!), and can get her to think about her feet rather than which way she is going next, etc; All of a sudden, I, and we, can just start improvising, and doing whatever, and it works out, almost like Magic. Women who have never had a lesson in what I’m leading can do the "moves", because, really they are just stepping quick quick slow, slow. (The other really important things are to keep your feet under your center, and take smaller, rather than larger steps)
    One of my favorite memories is the time I was dancing with one of our better gals. I have no idea what we did, or what I led, but it went on for quite some time. At the end of it Diane looked down at my feet, and said, rather surprised, "You’re still on the right (she meant correct) foot!" I said, "Yeah?" So was she.
  12. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Cool, lots of stuff in those two posts. Sounds like cw dancing is quite a bit different up in your area. I have a hard time imagining how your 2-step turn works. It seems like a beat is missing?

    The run, run, run in NC2S is qqs rythm. We just take the pivot energy of a CBL and make the third basic sideways again. The run part is to remind us not to make the dance too small.

    I'm not much for teaching on the dance floor. I'm not even close to being a pro. So as the guy, the odds are better than even that my lead is as messed up as her turn. It is amazing how just changing my arm motion a couple inches makes the difference between working great with almost any woman and not working with hardly anyone.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe I focused too much on the phrase "2 step turn", since I wrote this about 2 step!? Let me know if I'm not answering your question about the missing beat.

    Usually the woman does a 360 turn on either the slow slow, taking 2 steps, or on the quick quick, again taking 2 steps.
    The better guys can do the same thing.
    The main thing is to not take 3 slow steps in a row while turning, or 3 quicks in a row. If the woman or the man does that, one of you is on the "wrong" foot. If it takes 3 steps to do the 360, no problem. But if you've just done 2 quicks, your next step should be a slow.
    All of the preceeding assumes that the non turning partner stays with the qq s s.
    But what happens if you both turn at the same time? It works out if you both stay with the qq s s .

    There are lots of people that can only do things big. They run into other people more than people who can vary the size of their steps (Closing on another couple or the edge of the dance floor. Take small step, or step in place.)

    P.S. I've danced a bit in Vegas, San Antonio, the East Bay, and in Orlando, and most of the women didn't have any problems with any of this. In San Antonio one woman was very uncomfortable when we ended up in a sweetheart position. I've since learned that "In Texas once you've got a woman in your arms, you don't let her go." So, I guess lots of stuff is not too common there.
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Cool, so now we need a name for Steve's Polka/Tango and NC2S/Salsa combos :)
  15. connectionjunkie

    connectionjunkie New Member

    I haven't read through this whole thread..but the beginning question brought me in...

    As it should be, the music inspires the dance that is danced. It is as simple as that. IMHO, I don't think the 'label' is ever important when you are dancing.

    CW music has a lot of variety, so of course two-step, although that is what most people are familiar with, doesn't cover it all!
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hey look, a polka at #2 on the country charts! OK, it was 1947.

    Hot Country Songs 1946 Complete Chart at
    Position Artist Name Title Imprint | Distributing Label
    1 Bob Wills New Spanish Two Step Columbia
    2 Al Dexter Guitar Polka Columbia

    Al Dexter. You all remember him, don't you? (not me!)
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hey, Elvis included a polka on his first album!
    "Just Because" was a big hit for Frankie Yankovich in 1948, and was recorded by Elvis early in his career. I heard the Yankovich version growing up, but had never heard the Elivs one.
    Tell your dj you want him to play that polka by that country guy, Elvis.
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Odd that this follows a post about Elvis doing a polka.
    I'll just say that my salsa instructor was from Guatamala and was a very respected leader of the Salsa community in Portland, Oregon. His name was Eric Gonzalez. I hear he has returned to Guatamala.
    Eric was certainly no "chain school teacher'. I would have continued studying with him, but for some reason he was let go from the "studio" where he had been teaching. He started teaching somewhere else, but I had discovered Argentine Tango, which suited me much better.
  20. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


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