Written by Martin S. Nowak Sunday, 28 June 2009 16:35
For many of us, some of the fondest memories of grandma and grandpa are of visits to their house where the radio was set to a program that blared out polka, obereks and rhinelanders.
Theories on the origin of the polka have been well explored before. Briefly, the music and dance are of Bohemian (Czech) origin. It was called the polka either after the Czech word for "half" in reference to the dance's characteristic half-step, or in sympathy for the Poles' 1830 uprising. The very word "polka" means Polish woman in the Polish language. One theory says that it may have been a Polish folk dance borrowed by the Bohemians. Another says it has Gypsy roots. Some say it can even be traced to a single person, a Bohemian girl named Anicka Chadimova.
At any rate, form its early 1830s beginnings it spread across Europe vis theater performances and became a true craze. Its appeal was that it was so unlike any dance or music that existed at the time in western Europe, freewheeling and lighthearted. By the early 1840s it had captivated London. In 1844 it arrived in America, first performed in New York.