Synchronized Polka
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Synchronized Polka

Story written by Rick Archer
May 2011

Synchronized Polka is an attractive partner dance used to Polka-rhythm Western music.  The starting position for SP is the Sweetheart Position (see picture).  Both the lady and the man start every pattern with their right foot. 

I have been teaching Synchronized Polka for several years now, but I have no idea what its true origins are. My memory draws a blank.  So for the fun of it, I reviewed the SSQQ Schedules I have saved on my computer.  I discovered to my surprise that I taught a "Same Foot Polka Patterns" Crash Course on Saturday, January 24, 1998. I also noticed that in the following summer of 1999 I taught a Synchronized Polka Crash Course.

I think it is safe to assume the origins of Synchronized Polka date back to sometime in the late Nineties.  Let me be honest here.  I vaguely remember someone showing me a couple moves long ago, but I have no idea who that person was.  So let's just do it this way.  Synchronized Polka was not my idea, but I suppose I deserve some credit for developing the dance and making it popular. 


I am fairly certain the idea for Synchronized Polka originated as an offshoot of the Cotton Eyed Joe

Like SP, the Cotton Eyed Joe has everyone starting on their right foot from a side-by-side position.  In addition, the Cotton Eyed Joe is based on Polka-rhythm music.

Unfortunately, Who, When and Where Synchronized Polka made its leap from the Cotton Eyed Joe to become a dance in its own right are three questions I can't answer. 

What I will say with certainty is that SSQQ was completely responsible for turning the elementary same-foot patterns into a dance with its own style and identity. 

Will Synchronized Polka ever become as famous as Argentine Tango or Swing?  Probably not.  However anyone who enjoys Western Dancing will certainly be interested in learning the moves.

Synchronized Polka patterns have lots of advantages.  They are easy to lead, they give the lady a much-needed break from going backwards all the time, and the patterns are visually pleasing to watch.  Plus there is a grace to Synchronized Polka patterns that reminds people of the Waltz Waltz.  Synchronized Polka has a nice flow to it.  

I remember 2007 as the year I began to take Synchronized Polka seriously.

Previously I had only offered Synchronized Polka as a once or twice a year Crash Course.  The dance is so easy to learn I figured two hours was more than enough time to get the hang of it. 

However I could not help but notice the size of the Crash Courses kept growing.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a second Crash Course?  In other words, once I realized there was a growing popularity, I decide to explore a little bit.  That is another way of saying, "If I could make up some new moves, that would help pay the rent."

I remember asking around the studio if anyone knew any more Synchronized Polka moves.  Someone mentioned that Scott Ladell, one of our instructors knew some interesting patterns. 

I knew Scott had been instrumental in developing advanced levels to the emerging Western dances known as Triple Two and Night Club.  Sure enough, he had tinkered with Synchronized Polka as well.  Even better, he was willing to share his new patterns with me. 

Thanks mostly to Scott's patterns, in March 2007 I taught my first "Advanced" Synchronized Polka Crash Course.  The class was huge.  I knew I was on to something good here.  I taught the same Advanced course again in July.  Afterwards I had one student after another ask if there was "more".  I smiled and replied, "I sure hope so!"


I continued to tinker with the dance.  In March 2008, I offered my very first month-long course in Synchronized Polka.  Here is the promotional write-up:

Experienced Western dancers know that Polka-rhythm music will tire you out.  This explains the popularity of alternatives to Polka such as Triple Two and Western Cha Cha.  Synchronized Polka has been around for several years, but in 2007 this pretty dance system really began to catch on.  Unlike Western Cha Cha and Triple Two, Synchronized Polka is used right along with your regular Polka.   In other words, Synchronized Polka enhances what you normally dance to Polka songs. 

Danced mostly from the Sweetheart Position, Synchronized Polka has many advantages.  It is easy to learn, easy to lead, it gives the lady a much-needed break from her double turns and it allows everyone to dance forward.  People don’t get tired out quite as much.  Best of all, the patterns are graceful and flowing.

The class was a big hit.  We had nearly 40 students and lots of fun.  The only problem with the course was remembering the patterns.  Since I had not grouped the various patterns into an overall "system" yet, it was easy to forget some of the patterns I had taught.

Another problem was keeping the patterns straight.  It was common to start one pattern and accidentally slip into another pattern.  I laughed and told the men to quit worrying about it.  As long as the ladies kept smiling, what difference did it make?

 

Dawn of a New Era

On Sunday, May 29, 2011, I began a new Synchronized Polka class.  This was my first dance class at the "New SSQQ". 

One thing that made this class easy to teach is the fact that everyone starts out going forward from Sweetheart.  It makes a big difference when everyone can see what you are doing.  Although we had a big class - 40 people - the room was more than spacious enough to accommodate our group.

By the way, the first hour of our class on Sunday, June 5, will be a complete review.  If you missed last week and would like to join us in progress, please do so!  We will catch you up and get you on the right foot.

Marla was nice enough to take these pictures.  She had a little spot in the corner and snapped everyone as they went by. 
Here we have Ginny and Chris.  They were nice enough to smile for the camera.

Joe and Patty ignored Marla completely.  If you look behind Patty, you will see Elsa with the big eyes.  Elsa is wondering what she gotten herself into.  Fortunately, later on she cheered up enough to tell me she enjoys reading my Newsletters.  I turned to mush.  I just wish I had a better picture of her!  Elsa met her husband Jay at SSQQ.  They were married in 2002.

Our class was remarkably balanced, but we had two extra ladies.  Gina was nice enough to dance lead to balance us out.

I love this picture.  Did you notice the suspicious-looking "Shadow Couple" in the background?  I don't think they paid!

 

Harriett and Lyn.  Do you see how nice they look together?  Well, I can ruin that in a hurry.  I have a picture of Lyn dancing with me.  I better see a $5 bill in my hand soon or next week I am posting that picture!
 

Here we were practicing how to switch partners for a dance known as the "San Antonio Stroll".  Everyone liked it, but not everyone could remember the moves well enough to enjoy the dance once I put on the music.  Too much too soon!

Here is my nemesis Ann.  She is happy because she is telling me more about all the wonderful places she has traveled to.  That's the main reason Ann took this class - Ann just wanted to bug me some more!  (read how Ann treats me poorly!)

So what do Fran and Chris have in common.  Fran met her husband Gus at SSQQ.  Chris met his fiancée Pam at SSQQ.
Their other halves are busy dancing elsewhere in the circle.

It was Marla's birthday.  First we all sang the Happy Birthday Cha Cha song, then I took advantage of the situation to give her a new spatula and a new baking pan.  Are those wonderful presents?  It shows what a sensitive guy I am.

Then to make sure I got out alive, I gave her a necklace.  There were about 20 women ready to lynch me for giving Marla kitchen stuff.

This is Jay dancing with Carolyn.  Jay is Elsa's husband from an earlier picture.

Here I am dancing the Lariat with Yolanda.  I love saying her name.  'Yolanda' just rolls off my tongue.  I like dancing with her too.


I don't know if you can tell, but we had lots of fun.  I would like to thank Marla for taking the pictures.
Don't forget, there's plenty of room for more starting in the Second Week of class!  Please come join us! 

If you have a question, please email rick@ssqq.com
 

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