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Tuned In: Polka ist gut

Stop by the German Corner for offbeat music and food

 by Tara Brite  published on Thursday, February 17, 2005

<em>Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE</em><br>
You donít have to spend hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket to get a taste and feel of Germany.  The German Corner, located in Phoenix, offers good beer, live music and authentic decorations. /issues/arts/692034
Brandon Quester
Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
You donít have to spend hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket to get a taste and feel of Germany. The German Corner, located in Phoenix, offers good beer, live music and authentic decorations.
 

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Spaetzle, liderhosen and polka.

While you may think these characteristically German items are only available in Oktober, they are actually just around the corner all year long at the German Corner, a restaurant and bar in Phoenix.

On a recent Friday night, the warm, wooden floors, decorative lights and welcoming garden gnome create an authentic German tavern feel, and worries are carried away by the happy tune of an accordion playing in the background.

After walking inside the German Corner, an old gentleman wearing green short shorts a la Nair commercial, suspenders and a hat with a feather sticking out of the back, is spotted waltzing solo on the large, wooden dance floor in the middle of the restaurant.

A glance toward the stage reveals accordion player and vocalist Leigh F. Dechaine jamming in front of a mural of a German castle-scape and the words "Schloss Sigmaringen."

Dechaine plays at the German Corner one weekend every month, pounding out polka music on his accordion while the audience pounds back pints of authentic German beer.

The tunes he plays tonight are what he considers "music all Americans should know," and include fantastic polka renditions of "Danke Shoen" and "Tiny Bubbles," which illicit smiles and foot-tapping from audience members.

Dechaine says his half-German heritage inspired him to begin playing the accordion when he was a young boy growing up in Minnesota. Though he took a 20-year hiatus from playing while he was in the Navy, he started up again a few years ago.

"I just picked it up as a hobby," he says during a break from playing.

Dechaine, who greets regular customers by name and graciously accepts compliments from others, sometimes plays at resorts in Scottsdale, other German restaurants and at special occasions, such as Oktoberfest with a five-piece band.

However, Dechaine says the German Corner, where he has played frequently for the last two years, is his favorite place to perform because of the large dance floor and the excitement of the crowd.

"People are always coming here to have fun," he says.

While the usual audience at one of Dechaine's performances is usually an older German demographic, there are occasionally large groups of younger people.

Dechaine laughs as he describes one instance when a large group of students came in straight from a baseball game. He says they pulled their table and chairs into the middle of the dance floor and laughed and danced for more than an hour.

One regular at the German Corner is political science senior Shon Zelman.

He says being one of the youngest people at the restaurant does not make him uncomfortable. Rather, he is amazed at the older generation's expertise on the dance floor.

"I don't think I could dance like that when I get to be their age," Zelman says.

While he has only been to the restaurant a few times, Zelman says the live music makes the German Corner a worthwhile adventure.

"The live music is what makes the German Corner such a fun place to dine at," he says. "The music really makes the experience."

Reach the reporter at tara.brite@asu.edu.



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