Polka Happiness

Temple University Press, 1992

Polka Happiness chronicles the immense popularity of the music in nineteenth century Europe and its enduring popularity in the United States. After tracing the history of polka’s spread throughout the world, the authors focus on the emergence and intense rivalry of the Chicago and Eastern styles in the United States. The book also traces the role of the International Polka Association in establishing networks, promoting events and providing an environment in which Polish Americans can celebrate and nourish their cultural heritage.

Excerpts from Reviews of “Polka Happiness”

“Polka Happiness is an inspiring account, with strikingly eloquent photographs. It is based on material collected over twenty years of visiting dances, fan club meetings, national and regional conventions, interviewing musicians, promoters, disc jockeys, fans, and generally gathering information on ‘Polonias’, the Polish areas of big cities. This is research con amore.”

“The book’s appeal extends beyond the academic; polka people will also read this with pleasure. It is printed in the Visual Studies Series, and with its brilliant photographs, it could almost stand as an art photography book.”

– Popular Music

“The collection of 150 color and b&w photos of Poles having the time of their lives at weddings, nightclubs, festivals and parties needs only the accompaniment of the accordion to make the experience complete for readers.” – Publishers Weekly

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Discussion

“My conscious goal as a photographer, overriding concerns of image clarity and density, was always to try to capture the intimacy and spontaneity of everyday working-class sociability, and I was deeply influenced by the “snapshot aesthetic”of my subjects’ own approach to photography, and in particular by the work of documentary photographer Dick Blau.”

– Aaron A. Fox, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University

Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture, Duke University Press, 2004, p. 338