TOPEKA — Square dance caller Allen Hahn said a great injustice was underfoot in the halls of the Capitol.
Fans of polka were on the verge of getting a bill through a Senate committee that would make that celebratory movement the official state dance. That would, Hahn said, be a disservice to lovers of square dancing.
“We believe it would be a great oversight not to recognize the important part square dancing has played and continues to play in the history of our state,” he said.
He said doctors recommend square dancing as an enjoyable way of keeping both mind and body active. Dancing is a stress reliever because it requires concentration by participants, he said.
On the other hand, Charles Porubsky Jr. said his family’s Topeka tavern had hosted thousands of polka wedding dances during the past six decades.
“The polka has been a huge part of the German/Russian community in Kansas,” he said.
Hahn recommended polka be recognized as the ethnic dance of Kansas and square dance be designated as the state’s folk dance. The political partnership necessary to make that a reality didn’t come together.
Instead, the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee decided it would be best to designate both polka and square dancing as official state dances of Kansas.
The original Senate bill related to the polka was introduced by Sen. Vic Miller, D-Topeka. His quest was to make Kansas the 33rd state to select an official state dance. He also urged the House to consider giving the polka a spin as the state dance.
“I understand we all have a mountain of important work to do and appreciate that this issue does not rise to the level of importance for some,” Miller said. “I get that that. I will say, however, that for many, many Kansans and for varying reasons, this issue is important.”
“Why a state dance?” he said. “Why not. Dancing is therapeutic. It makes us feel good. It makes us happy.”