Polka may be the official state dance of Wisconsin, but the Midwest Polka Association is headquartered in the Twin Cities metro area. Founded in 2003 by Scandia native Pat Eckman, the MPA hosts monthly dances headlined by such local acts as Doctor Kielbasa and esteemed out-of-towners like Tri-City Drive, Cynor Classics, and The Boys (from Baltimore).
When we caught the Boys’ raucous set in October 2018 at Moose Lodge 963 in Maplewood, the Maryland-based squeezebox stars were playing to a packed room of regulars. Everyone was half-stepping and heel-clicking to bouncy Polish classics about young love and pilfered blood sausage. (Sample lyrics: “Who stole the kishka? / Who stole the kishka? / Who stole the kishka? / Someone call the cops!”)
Most of MPA’s members are on a first-name basis, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t welcoming of newcomers. We first learned about the group during its showcase at the 2018 Minnesota State Fair, where members were demo’ing their fancy footwork to curious fairgoers. The steps are harder to learn than they look; plan to spend some QT with YouTube tutorials before hitting the dance floor, lest you make a fool of yourself and bottleneck the swift-moving skulk of silver foxes.
The best way to find out about upcoming dances is to join the club. Membership dues are $7 a year or $12 for two years and include bimonthly mailings of Pat’s charming MPA newsletter. The lo-fi polka ‘zine includes a detailed events calendar; member birthdays, obits, and news updates (“Let’s keep Tom in our thoughts after his fall from his mother’s roof. He is better!”); and mini profiles of accordion-loving bands and venues.