Punk in Poland of the 1980s

punksIn Poland of the 1980s punk rock involved tough and aggressive music as well as ideology that were banned. Regardless of communist state hostility Polish punk has survived and is still popular in some social circles.
Provocation and rebellion were two values that might have been regarded as a source of inspiration for Polish punk artists creation. The text has been always important in Polish punk rock music. The lyrics by Polish punk rock bands were against: conformity, mass production and consumption, stupidity, social inequality, communist system hypocrisy. Punk music in Poland made an opportunity of expressing opinions that were basically contrary to the views held by the communist Polish state in the1980s. Thus punk those times was censored by the red authorities. Unlike other kinds of rock music such as: heavy metal rock, classic rock, new romantic, disco, italo disco, or even black metal, Polish punk rock was not allowed to participate in the market . One must know that communist Poland in the 1980s was not entirely cut off from the Western culture’s influence. The rock music by American and European bands was available to ordinary people, fans. However Polish show business was not interested in punk rock bands since their creation and activities were slightly "politically incorrect". The Polish establishment would rather promote any other type of music. Punk was perceived as a danger to "the People’s democracy". Paradoxically, the communist state „prohibition of punk creation” made it much more popular among Polish youth. Soon the unofficial distribution system of punk music occurred. The tapes as well as vinyl records containing the music that could not have been bought in any shop, were given from hand to hand.
The punk creation seemed to be based on sincerity and frankness of artists. The songs were devoted to every day problems encountered not only by adolescents but also adults of those hard times.
The Polish punk of the 1980s was anticommunist movement. Furthermore some punk movement followers also belonged to independent associations that fought back against communism and red hypocrisy in "people’s republic of Poland". We must focus our attention on NZS (Independent Youth Association) and SOLIDARNOŚĆ (Solidarity). NZS, SOLIDARNOŚĆ and punk were illegal in communist Poland. Moreover SOLIDARNOŚĆ and punk formed antitotalitarian front. SOLIDARITY members represented variety of professions, points of view, values, social classes and mores, religions, education levels. During that historical period in Poland all of them were united in their battle against communism and totalitarism.
The readers in the West should have known that SOLIDARITY was very popular among musicians and fans of punk rock in Western Europe, USA and Canada. For instance, a smashing British band ANGELIC UPSTARTS dedicated their song entitled: "Solidarity" to the Polish movement. The lyrics should have paid a tribute to the pioneers - workers of Lublin’s July, that is still so easy to forget (FSC LUBLIN i WSK ŚWIDNIK) and Gdańsk’s August. The crews of those factories were the first, in a whole country, who went on strike not only for better pay but to rebel against Polish communist state tyranny.

Polish punk rock in the 1980s

As regards Polish punk rock it originated quite when Polish strikes took place. The first Polish punk rock bands were: SS 20 (DEZERTER nowadays), KRYZYS, BRYGADA KRYZYS (Tomasz Lipiński – the leader of that band established a little bit later cool TILT), SIEKIERA, TZN XENNA, MOSKWA, PROWOKACJA, KARCER, REJESTRACJA, T.LOVE ALTERNATIVE, KULT, KOBRANOCKA, ŚMIERĆ KLINICZNA.
In Poland of the 1980s it was not anything uncommon to see agents called "Ubeks" or "Sbeks" during punk rock gigs. They were manipulating with skinheads and hooligans to make them hostile and aggressive towards punk rockers. The musicians of Polish punk bands as well as fans were sometimes treated as "class enemies" (enemies of the People’s democracy).

Jarocin was bustling with punks activity in the 1980s

The fans of punk rock in Poland gathered also in Jarocin not far away from Poznań. As far as I know Jarocin became a famous place after the festival of independent music had been organised there. Polish punks that came from various sites of Poland (East, West, North and South) used to meet there. Jarocin in the 1980s was the capital of the nonconformist art.The bands that played concerts and their fans in Jarocin felt free to show that the communist Poland reality, they were forced to put up with, was a nuisance.They were also continuously and carefully watched by agents and militia.It happened that some artists or punks were arrested for their look, strange behaviour or the pogo. Pogo dance was misinterpreted by the Polish militia as an extreme form of teenage aggression. Fortunetely later they found out that it was just the punk ritual that could have symbolized helplessness, worthlessness, simplicity and the feeling that punks unity was strength.

Unofficial newspaper - fanzine

To end with, the thing that is worth writing concerns unofficial newspaper (fanzine). It was actually invented by punk rockers. As regards cool Polish punk fanzines their creators had got the guts to present all the stuff that was forbidden by communists those times. Thus Polish fanzine was underground newspaper. Afterwards the fans and artists representing other kinds of music, especially heavy metal rock, borrowed the idea of fanzine from punks.

Piotr Alfred Gindrich, last updated in 2014