Polka, Czech and Ponorogo


When I enjoy this album Old Fashioned Dance Party by The Six Fat Dutchmen, my memory flashes back to my high school in 1980-ies. As a student (santri) in Islamic Boarding School in Gontor Ponorogo East Java, the masters usually celebrate the first annual education with such welcoming ritual. In one session, there is always a performance by a traditional band with four to six musicians playing a big drum, alto sax, and so on. Let me call it Gontor traditional music. As a young student who is familiar with pop music like Chrisye, Bimbo and Koes Plus, really I don’t like such music like Tanjidor (Jakarta). Because it is too old music.

This album by The Six Fat Dutchmen is like Gontor traditional music, or Tanjidor in Jakarta. This album is about polka music or waltz. Wikipedia said that Polka is a fast, lively Central European dance, and also a genre of dance music. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, and is still a common genre of Czech and Slovakian folk music; it is common both in Europe and in the Americas.

The question is why this such music from Europe came to Gontor Ponorogo east Java? When it came? Who brought it there? And many questions left which must be answered by historians and music lovers? Can any one of you give me the answer? *

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