When Polkamania took hold of Europe in the nineteenth century, French dance master Henri Cellarius wrote in 1847 in The Drawing-Room Dances, "By [the polka's] easy, graceful movement, the nature of its step which readily accommodates itself to every fancy of the dancer, the character of its airs inspired for the most part by so happy a musical feeling, it is sure to maintain its place in the ballroom...."
The polka craze that's recently swept over our town proves the style's remaining popularity, and you'll see it come to a frothy head at the St. Louis Metro Polka Club's fifteenth annual Thanksgiving Weekend Polka Festival. St. Louis' illustrious cultural celebration unites polka lovers from around the world at the Marriott Pavilion hotel (One Broadway) in a big bang of accordions and half-steppin' fury from noon to midnight on Friday and Saturday (November 26 and 27), and then from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 28. Adult admission is $14 the first two days and $6 on Sunday, but you'll probably want to get full weekend passes for $30 each. Kids twelve and younger get in free; thirteen- to eighteen-year-olds pay $5. If Saturday night's bohemian debauchery turns sinful, you can avoid damnation by attending the polka mass on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Additional information and tickets can be had by calling 314-846-8906. -- John Goddard
The relationship between dog and tennis ball is a sacred one. Since time immemorial, dogs have chased fuzzy yellow spheres, handed them to their masters and then gleefully chased the same sphere yet again. This tri-part relationship may very well be the cornerstone of the canine domestication process. That or the ear scratching. The Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park (314-361-0177) celebrates this ancient rite with an all-day party for dogs and their people. From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., your $2 admission allows you access to the fenced-in courts, all the cocoa or coffee you crave and all the old tennis balls your dog can chase. Proceeds benefit People for D.O.G.S. (Dog Parks of Greater St. Louis). -- Paul Friswold
Hear the Trains a-Comin'
Dig out the coveralls, don the conductor's hat and perfect your "all aboard!" -- the "Gardenland Express: Vintage St. Louis" holiday flower and train show just pulled into the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard). From Wednesday, November 24, through January 2, 2005, model trains from the mid-1800s to the 1950s cruise through tiny live plants and scaled-down local landmarks. Finally, you can look down on the 1904 World's Fair Flight Cage and hover King Kong-style over a Ted Drewes Frozen Custard stand. The Gardenland Express runs daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays from November 26 through December 23). Admission costs $2 to $10; for more information visit www.mobot.org or call 314-577-9400. -- Amy Helms
You know that artsy friend of yours who always looks both perfectly put together and stylishly disheveled? Whenever you try to pull off that look, you come across as a clownish thrift-store junkie -- not chic. SKIF sweaters can help you fix this. They're holey and comfortable with plenty of sass -- and they're not just for the ladies. Drop by SKIF International (2008 Marconi Avenue; 314-773-4401 or www.skifo.com) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (November 26 and 27) for the Super-Fun Holiday Show. Not only will SKIF sweaters be for sale, but so will other local artists' goods, including jewelry, handbags, various forms of displayable art and books (super-cool, by the way). And don't forget to let your friends know about the show -- they just may buy your holiday gift there! -- Alison Sieloff