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* The Paul Drahn Family Home Page*

Updated September 6, 2000

I have recently received an email that gives the source and meaning of my family name, Drahn. I share that here for all who are interested:
The info sheet you're talking about is no doubt the one with "Dirndl Drahn" in the title. Drahn is the Bavarian (S. German) dialect way of pronouncing "Drehen" which means "to turn." In the Alpine regions of Germany and Austria, there is a traditional dance called the Schuhplattler. The traditional dress of these regions includes Lederhosen (knee-length or knicker length leather pants for the men). The women wear clothing that ranges from simple to elaborate, depending on the occasion--but all have in common a very full skirt (along with petticoats and bloomers for modesty) that bells as the lady turns around her own axis (it's a bit like a ballerina's pirouette but without the head snapping/spot turning). The man hits his shoe soles, thighs, claps his hands and hits the floor with his hands in time to the music. It's quite a lively dance. The woman's role is called Dirndl Drehen or Dirndl Drahn -- literally translated, girl's turning.

The dance can be done as a couples dance or as a group dance with 2 or more couples. There are also dance competitions in which either a group of 4-6 couples is judged together or one single couple dances but each is judged separately. Either way, the winners are the cream of the crop.

So there's no dance, per se, that is called "Drahn" that you can hold up and say "hey, they named a dance after us!" The word is more generic than that and refers to the woman's part of this type of folkdance that has been done in the Alps for about 900 years. The info sheet is a handout I prepared that gives the "how to" of good "Dirndl Drahn."

Drehen also refers to any type of turn made by either the male or female dancer. It can, of course, also refer to non-dance turns and twists. You can look up "drehen" in a German dictionary for more definitions--like rolling a cigarette or grinding meat or shooting a film or scene for a movie (Germans use one word for many things, we Americans tend to make up new words instead).

The website you visited is that of the Gauverband Nordamerika, which is an umbrella organization to which 80 clubs in the U.S. and Canada belong. The clubs have the common bond of being German or Austrian clubs that uphold the traditions and Tracht (traditional regional clothing) of Bavaria and Tirol. Each individual club has its own functions (dances, meetings, performances, etc.). The Gauverband holds a delegates meeting
every "even" year to which all the clubs send representatives to discuss the rules of the organization and attend workshops on music, dance, customs, etc. In the "odd" years we have a 4-day Gaufest to which over 2000 people come to take part in workshops and general socializing. Also during the Gaufest we have a group dance competition to select the best group in the Gauverband.
The website has a list of all the clubs in the US & Canada, in case you're interested.

Hope you enjoyed learning a little about the culture and the Gauverband itself. Have fun in your search for your family name!

Thank you Karen Dean!


Paul Drahn

2765 W. Antler Ave.
Redmond, Or 97756
United States

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