Texas Dancers Support IPA
More than 200 polka lovers packed historic Sefcik Hall in Central Texas on Jan. 26 to celebrate National Polka Month. Texas Polka News sponsored the 4th annual dance benefitting the IPA. More than $1,200 was raised through dance tickets and silent auction, and 20 Texans became IPA members.
The Praha Brothers from the nearby town of Temple provided the music. IPA Hall of Famer Alfred Vrazel along with Danny Zapletal, IPA Southwestern U.S. trustee, served as the masters of ceremony. The highlight of the evening came when Alice (Sefcik) Sulak, the 88-year-old musician and owner of the hall, sang a few songs, accompanied by Alfred on accordion, and Jerry Haisler, a polka band leader from Temple, on vocals. Jerry and Alice performed together for 48 years. Alice’s appearance was doubtful earlier in the day as she had just come home from the hospital, but you would have never known all the physical maladies she was battling (which she humorously shared with the audience). Her singing voice was strong, and she spoke to the audience in English and Czech. Alice declared herself a “tough old gal.”
“If more people were like Jerry and Alfred, we would have no problems in this country,” Alice said to thundering applause.
Danny presented Alice with a plaque from the IPA honoring her more than 75 years as a musician and polka promoter. Alice’s father and mother built the dance hall in 1923. She has lived her entire life in the house next door and has managed the hall since 1970. She played saxophone in her family band, Adela & The Music Masters, and later in the Haisler family polka bands for 45 years, but a bad back caused her to give it up. Her son, Kenny, and his family help manage the hall now. The two-story hall features a bar with pool tables on the first floor, open on weekends. The upstairs dance area comes alive on Sunday evenings with music provided by bands booked by Alice. The second floor is also available for rentals.
Danny also presented me with a plaque from the IPA congratulating the Texas Polka News on its 30 years of publishing and thanking the paper for promoting polka music and supporting polka music throughout the country.
As with other TPN-sponsored events, those 18 years of age and under were admitted free. It was great to see dancers of all ages having a wonderful time. It was also great to see so many musicians with other Texas polka bands in attendance, including Andy Mikula, and Mike and Janice Marek of the Jodie Mikula Orchestra; David and Michelle Slovak (and Danny) of Czech & Then Some, Jim Zabojnik of Czech Harvesters, and James Marek of The Czechaholics.
“It was another awesome event where Texans showed their support of the IPA,” Danny said. “Till next January, polka on!”
Thanks to photographers Harvey Wise, Justin Everett, and Gary E. McKee for capturing the images of this high-energy event. More photos can be found at flickr.com/polkabeat. Thanks to Walt Harfmann for capturing the video of Alice singing and the Praha Brothers performing. Check that out at youtube.com/buttonboxes.