Visit us on Google+

Polka Returns With A Vengence

SANATOGA PA – The floor shook Sunday (May 3, 2009) in Sanatoga’s fabled Sunnybrook Ballroom, and the building literally trembled, as a musical force seemingly stronger than rock-‘n-roll exerted its power the way it had at the venue in decades past.

Sunnybrook's dance floor was filled with people Sunday, some of whom were visiting the Pottstown area for the first time.

Sunnybrook's dance floor was filled with people Sunday, some of whom were visiting the Pottstown area for the first time.

Polka’s back – yee-hah – at the Sunnybrook Road entertainment complex.

Even those who had to be seated had fun. One wheelchair-bound man tapped his hand to the beat on the Sunnybrook stage, while the Chicago Push band played above him.

Even those who had to be seated had fun. One wheelchair-bound man tapped his hand to the beat on the Sunnybrook stage, while the Chicago Push band played above him.

Sunnybrook’s weekend Polka Party was a surprise smash, even to the non-profit organization’s management. Just half-way through the dance concert’s eight-hour day more than 500 people had paid for admission, entrance staffers estimated, and hundreds more were expected later in the afternoon and evening.

“We were caught a little unprepared,” Sunnybrook Foundation board member and volunteer Mark Pollock said, smiling. “The walk-in traffic was just phenomenal.”

The event featured three artists, two of them Grammy Award recording nominees. Lenny Golmulka and Chicago Push, the Polka Family, and Janet and John O’Such all were warmly received by the audience.

Tour operators from northern and central Pennsylvania locations like Berwick, southwest of Wilkes-Barre,  and Clearfield, northwest of State College, brought bus-loads of polka enthusiasts ready to party the day away. Local dancers came too, their cars filling the facility’s parking spaces.

It was a decent-sized crowd, parking lot volunteer Bill Krause of Pottstown acknowledged, but he added the attendance has a way to go yet to rival the three-day Polka Festivals that once were a staple of Sunnybrook’s heritage as a dance hall. “Back then, we had to park cars in a line up on High Street,” he remembered. “And in the grove at the back of Sunnybrook we’d have a beer wagon with 300 cases of beer … all of them emptied!,” he laughed.

No self-respecting concert-goer leaves without a T-shirt.

No self-respecting concert-goer leaves without a T-shirt.

As it turns out, there is a polka dance circuit that stretches practically coast-to-coast across the mid-section of the country. Advertising flyers from polka events being held from next week through August in several states were piled high on a table at the entrance.

Now Sunnybrook’s name is back on those lists too. The Sunnybrook Foundation, which operates the ballroom, has indicated it may host a two-day festival sometime in the future.

Related:

Sign up to get The Post delivered free daily by e-mail.

Like what you read? Get even more of it, free. Subscribe to The Post.