“It’s history. It’s family.” — Polka could become the official dance of Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Have you ever danced the polka? Kansas lawmakers are working to get the polka named as the official state dance of Kansas.

Originally a Czech dance, the polka spread throughout Europe developing different styles. The dance was eventually brought to the American Midwest by European immigrants and has been passed down family lines here in Kansas for decades.

Edward Schwerdt is 96 years old, he learned the polka when he was just 10.

“There was a jukebox and everyone was feeding it nickels,” recalled Edward. “Young lady taught me how to dance the polka.”

Edward then taught his wife, Loretta, the polka for their German wedding.

“People got married at 9 o’clock in the morning, had a big dinner,” said Edward. “Seven o’clock at night they start the wedding dances and they went to midnight.”

Loretta joked, “That’s how I learned to be a German.”

Edward and Loretta taught their children the polka and have been teaching others ever since.

Representative Ronald Ellis, along with Senator Vic Miller, are sponsoring bills that would make the polka the official dance of Kansas. Ellis says they’ve already received a lot of support.

“The more I find out about it it’s just fascinating because polka, for a lot of people that don’t know, it’s all the way from Atchison all the way to Garden City.”

Edward thinks this is a perfect way to keep the history of the dance alive in Kansas, as he worries the dance is dying out.

“If they don’t do it pretty soon they’re going to forget about it,” said Edward.

Representative Ellis is hopeful that the polka will be the state dance of Kansas by the end of the legislative session this year.

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