This month we would like to highlight the different types of German-American clubs and organizations typically found throughout the country. While there are hundreds of German-American clubs in America focusing on everything from Beethoven to German mustard, we will be focusing on these three common club types: Schuhplattlers, Saengerbunde, und Turnvereins.
Schuhplattler: Schuhplattler is a traditional German folk dance that originated in the Alps. In this style of dance, “performers stomp, clap and strike the soles of their shoes (Schuhe), thighs and knees with their hands held flat (platt).” This dancing tradition is one of many that German-Americans keep alive through the formation of clubs and organizations. Many of our member clubs, such as the Schuhplattler Original Enzian from New York and the Schuhplattler und Trachtenverein (STV) Bavaria from Cleveland, Ohio, were founded to perform traditional Schuhplattler dances.
Saengerbund: When immigrants come to a new country, one way they commonly try to keep a sense of community is through song. A Saengerbund is a German choral group, which through singing in the German language, preserves and promotes German heritage and culture. Some traditional songs that a Saengerbund might have in their repertoire include German Christmas carols, other folk songs, and then also music from Beethoven, Strauss, etc.
Turnverein: A Turnverein is an athletic club, originally founded to focus on gymnastics. These are popular among German-Americans as it is a way to keep in good physical health (a priority for Germans) as well as congregate with other German-Americans. Turnvereins are yet another example of how German-Americans manage to find and engage with each other in many capacities.
Overall, while each German-American club is different, they have many things that tie them together: whether it be a similar focus or just a general love of all things German.