The Polka is a lively Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in the Czech lands. It derived from the sounds of traditional farm equipment and is still a common genre in Lithuanian, Czech, Croatian, Slovenian, Polish, German, Hungarian, Austrian, Italian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Russian, and Slovakian folk music. Versions are also found in the Nordic countries, the British Isles, The United States, and Latin America, especially Mexico.
In light classical music, many polkas were composed by both Johann Strauss I and his son Johann Strauss II; two well-known compositions are by Bedřich Smetana, and Jaromír Vejvoda, the author of “Škoda lásky” (“Roll out the Barrel”).

The name comes from the Czech word půlka, literally meaning little half, a reference to the short half-steps featured in the dance. The word’s familiar form has been influenced by the similarity to the Czech word polka, meaning “Polish woman”. The name has led to the dance’s origin being sometimes mistakenly attributed to Poland. It should also not be confused with the polska, a Swedish 3/4-beat dance with Polish roots; cf. polka-mazurka. A related dance is the redowa. Polkas almost always have a 2/4 time signature. Popular music has also been parodied several times by “Weird Al” Yankovic in the style of polka.

Music Examples:

1. Leva’s Polka by Loituma
2. Liechtensteiner Polka by Six Fat Dutchmen
3. Cabaret by Frankie Yankovic