Tucked away near Salt Creek in the Southeast St. Pete is the boisterous Polish American Society. The plain white facade and subtle red lettering on the outside are juxtaposed by the unadulterated enthusiasm bursting through its historic halls on any given Thirsty Thursday. In college, that bit of alliteration meant cheap drinks on the 200 Block of Central. Now, comfortably in my 30s, it means pierogis and maybe a brew inside this historic gem.
Do you love beer, music, good eats, and have a budding interest in learning how to play the accordion? Then this event is for you. We’ll just get the basics out of the way first:
What: Thirsty Thursdays
Where: The Polish American Society
When: Thursdays beginning at 6pm
Cost: No admission cost, but drinks and food can be ordered at the bar (cash and credit cards accepted)
Address: 1343 Beach Dr SE, St. Petersburg, FL
No, you don’t have to be Polish, or a member of the society to attend these events. Of course, you’re more than welcome to join the club while you’re there. Annual memberships cost just $25.
On my first visit, after noshing on a plate of fresh pierogis, a member of the club playing the accordion approached me. I had just moved to the Old Southeast neighborhood and tepidly stepped through the front doors after being assured on the Next Door App that the music I was hearing from my front porch was part of a weekly tradition and all were welcome to enjoy.
That member had an accordion strapped to their chest and played it with ease, as if it was just another limb. He then graciously let me give it a whirl. I was not good – and a pretty clumsy student if I’m being honest. But every member was encouraging and light-hearted regarding the offkey tunes I was ripping. If you’re looking for a fine place full of welcoming folks, I cannot recommend this spot enough.
Founded in 1951, The Polish American Society is one of Florida’s oldest organizations, “honoring and celebrating the Polish and American rich culture and values,” writes the Society’s President. “Our Club welcomes all, not just those of Polish ancestry. It is a remarkably special place, well known for its friendliness.”
Construction of the building that stands today began back in 1956, and much of the artwork on the walls is the same as it was nearly 70 years ago. It’s a beautiful, preserved piece of St. Pete history well worth exploring at least once.
Some other upcoming events that might be of interest to the public:
Follow the Polish American Society on its website and Facebook page for updates on future events. Hungry for more local history? Join Historian Monica Kile for walking tours all over the ‘Burg.
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