Can you tell the difference between Polish and Slovenian polka?

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — For the first time since Krakusy Hall was sold, the Youngstown Polish community is hosting a celebration.

Polish Day will be from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Woodworth Park. It is free and open to the public. Proceeds will benefit the Krakowiaki Polish Folk Circle and the Polish Arts Club of Youngstown. The park is on Luther Avenue, off Western Reserve Road, between Market Street and Southern Boulevard.

Polish Day will feature Polish foods and baked goods; craft demonstrations and workshops; a Polish marketplace; dance performances; and a polka band, with polka dance lessons and demonstrations.

Krakusy Hall on South Avenue in Youngstown was the center of Polish social activities for years until it was sold a couple of years ago.

Aundrea Cika, a spokeswoman for Polish Day, said the event is being put together by young Polish-Americans whose vision is recreate the shared sense of community that Krakusy Hall symbolized.

Polish Day will also be a good opportunity to hear Polish-style polka.

Northeast Ohio is a bastion of Slovenian-style polka, thanks in part to the fame of “America’s Polka King,” the late Frankie Yankovic of Cleveland. But there has always been a sort of rivalry in the area between Slovenian- and Polish-style polka, according to Cika, who is a longtime fan and award-winning polka dancer.

The two types are distinguishable by differences in style, tempo and instrumentation, she said.

“Polkas are regionalized like any other music or dance,” she said. “In terms of types, the basics are Alpine [German], Mexican — neither are very big players locally — and Slovenian and Polish.”

Cika described how to tell the difference between Slovenian and Polish polka.

“Slovenian is like a folk melody with a quick tempo throughout,” she said. “Although all of the styles are driven by the accordion, in Slovenian-style the accordion plays the melody line. The dance performed to it is a more natural 1-2-3 polka.

“Polish polkas are slower overall with passages of interludes full of 16th notes thrown in,” said Cika. “The accordion is almost like a percussion instrument with the bellow shakes filling in the sound and the melody line being played by the brass, often a trumpet. The dance performed to it is normally fast, showy and exhausting.”

 
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