OCALA, Fla. – Der Gemütlichkeit. It’s a German phrase that means “well being and happiness enjoyed with good friends and good times.” And Kristina Vavrek, a Realtor and broker with Harmony Homes Realty LLC in Ocala, says it’s the essence of the Swinging Bavarians, a German Bavarian polka band in which Vavrek is a member.
“My father is the leader of the band, so it’s been around since before I was born,” says Vavrek, who started German dancing at age 3. She does vocals for the group, plays the Cowbells and performs the Schuhplattler, a traditional Austro-Bavarian folk dance.
And, it’s truly a family affair. The Swinging Bavarians have 10 official members — Vavrek’s uncles, siblings and even her husband are part of the band. In fact, for Vavrek’s husband, Starr, getting into the group was a trial by fire. “We met through music so he was an accomplished musician. We handed him the Lederhosen, and for a while he refused to come out of the dressing room,” laughs Vavrek, who says Starr has overcome his shyness and is a full band member now. “It’s a close-knit family group, and we have a wonderful time when we’re together.”
Like Kristina, who is a real estate professional specializing in helping first-time homebuyers, everyone in the group works full time in another career. In fact, both of Vavrek’s parents are also real estate professionals.
Because of their hectic work schedules, most of the band members use their vacation time to perform in the busy September and October months—Oktoberfest.
“During that time we perform at festivals and other venues all over Florida every day of every weekend, so we may do 24 shows during those two months,” she says.
For Vavrek, it was natural that she would join the band. “My father is originally from Germany, and when we were little, we belonged to a German club in Florida. My brother, sister and I started German dancing at age 3 and playing piano at age 4. We had a lot of fun,” she says.
While the band primarily performs in Florida, last year they decided to honor the troops at Guantanamo Bay. “It was amazing. They flew us out on two C12 military planes, and we performed for the troops,” says Vavrek, whose father was in the army. “You don’t realize how isolated they are out there so they really appreciated the entertainment. Also, the military school band director played tuba, so we got him out to do a few songs with us.” Vavrek is hoping to be invited back again this year.
“It’s a great outlet,” she says — one that meshes well with her real estate career. “I love speaking to people and it gives me confidence in real estate.”
Whether she’s on stage with the Swinging Bavarians or setting the stage for clients to buy their dream home, Vavrek performs with pride and passion – the hallmark of a Florida Realtor.