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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 Bohemia, derived from the sounds of traditional farm equipment and is still a common genre in Latvian, Lithuanian, Czech Republic, Dutch, Croatian, Slovenian, Polish, German, Hungarian, Austrian, Italian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Russian, and Slovakian folk music. Versions are also found in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland and Latin America, especially Mexico.

In light classical music, many polkas were composed by both Johann Strauss I and his son Johann Strauss II; a couple of well-known ones were composed by Bedřich Smetana, and Jaromír Vejvoda, the author of "Škoda lásky" ("Roll Out the Barrel").




The name is generally thought to come from the Czech word půlka—literally, little half—a reference to the short half-steps featuring in the dance. But from its very outset, the word has been influenced by the similarity to the Czech word Polka, meaning "Polish woman/girl"[1], and the Polish word "Polka" (also Polish woman/girl). 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 About this sound 3/4-beat dance with Polish roots; cf. polka-mazurka. A related dance is the redowa. Polkas almost always have a About this sound 2/4 time signature.

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