Stepping into Nye’s Polonaise in Northeast Minneapolis on a Friday night is like stepping back in time. That’s partly due to the decor (dark, windowless, and untouched in forty years), the employees and regulars (many of whom also haven’t changed in that time), and the presence of Ruth Adams and the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band. Every week, the band (led by Ruth on accordion) leads a packed house through standards like “The Barking Dog Polka”, “Too Fat Polka”, and “In Heaven There Is No Beer.”
First-time director Sonya Tormoen has made an endearing short documentary of the group, simply titled The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band. Filmed in 2003, it captures the warm relationship between the band members: the septuagenarian founder Ruth, trumpeter Joe Hayden (called “The Kid” despite being in his 60s), and 88-year-old drummer Al Ophus who, despite his troubles keeping a steady beat, charms patrons and boasts of kissing “fifteen girls a night” (Al passed away a few months after filming wrapped).
The documentary is currently making the film festival rounds — including the Chicago International REEL Shorts Festival this weekend — and won the award for Best Documentary Short at the Fargo Film Festival in March. Check out a review in the Beachwood Reporter or watch the trailer below. If you like what you can see and hear (and can’t wait for it to come to your town), you can order a DVD directly from the filmmakers.