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How to Dance to Bavarian Music

Traditional Bavarian music is folk music originating from the Alpine region of Germany. It has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years, and it has evolved over time to include modern influences. Whether you're attending a traditional Oktoberfest celebration or simply looking to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Bavaria, learning how to dance to Bavarian music can be a lot of fun!

Understanding Bavarian Music

So that we understand each other: When we talk about "Bavarian music," we do this in the context of traditional folk music originating in Bavaria.

Perhaps it's needless to say, but contemporary Bavaria has a diverse music scene. As far as the Bavarian Beerhouse scene is concerned, these contemporary styles can actually fit in nicely!

As a matter of fact, modern music like pop and disco was a distinctive part of our events during our Bavarian Beerhouse time in the UK. The mix of old and new, traditional and modern, creates the special and fun atmosphere of the Bavarian-style parties and beer festivals we organize and/or are being consulted for.

The Bavarian Beerhouse Story - Cover

We have dedicated a whole chapter of our new book, "PROST! The Bavarian Beerhouse Story," to how we handled the music question in our three UK locations. Feel free to check it out in its print or Kindle version, and if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can even read it for free!

However, it's the traditional-style Bavarian music we want to talk about today, so let's talk about how to dance to Bavarian music (traditionally).

It's typically played on traditional instruments such as the accordion, the clarinet, and the trumpet. It is characterized by lively rhythms and catchy melodies designed to get people up and dancing.

Traditional Bavarian Dance Styles

Bavarian dance is a unique blend of traditional folk dance and modern influences. There are several traditional Bavarian dance styles, each with its individual steps and movements. The most popular Bavarian dance styles include:

  • the Polka

  • the Waltz

  • and the Schuhplattler.

3 (and a Half) Ways to Dance to Bavarian Music

The Polka is a lively dance that originated in Bohemia in the 19th century, has a quick and upbeat tempo, and is usually danced in pairs. The basic steps for the polka involve a quick hopping step followed by a side step.

The Waltz is a more elegant dance that originated around the 18th century and became particularly popular in Vienna/Austria. It is usually written in 3/4 time and characterized by its graceful, swaying, and flowing movements, performed in pairs. The Waltz involves a series of forward, side, and backward steps.

An informal alternative to dancing the Waltz in pairs is "Schunkeln." It is a swaying motion in a standing or sitting position. Typically, you hook your arms into the arms of your neighbors. It's very popular in Bavarian Beerhouses (including our own) and beer tents like the ones at Oktoberfest, where the fact that guests sit on wooden benches at long tables is particularly conducive for this style of movement.

The Schuhplattler is a traditional Bavarian/Austrian folk dance, often performed by either individuals or a group of dancers. It involves intricate footwork patterns, including hops, jumps, and stomps. It's highly unlikely that you will ever dance this yourself (as a casual guest in a Bavarian Beerhouse or at a beer festival). However, you might watch it as part of a specialized folk dancing group performance.

Bavarian Dance Events and Festivals

Bavarian dancing is an integral part of Bavarian culture, and there are many events and festivals that celebrate this rich tradition. The most famous of these is Oktoberfest, celebrated yearly in Munich. However, many other festivals and events throughout Bavaria also feature Bavarian music and dance, such as the Gäubodenvolkfest in Straubing and numerous other regional and local events.

Beyond Bavaria and the rest of Germany, Bavarian-style events, beerhouses, and restaurants enjoy popularity all over the world.

If you want to organize your own Bavarian-style event and could use some assistance, feel free to get in touch with us! We offer you our experience and expertise in Bavarian event organization. On top of that, we can provide contacts to Bavarian vocalists and bands and have a variety of DJ playlists that offer just the right mix of traditional and contemporary music.

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