Punk in Poland of the 1980s
In Poland of the 1980s punk rock involved the tough and aggressive music
as well as the ideology that were banned. Regardless of a communist
state hostility, the Polish punk has survived and is still popular
in some social circles.
Provocation and rebellion were two essential values that might have been regarded
as a source of inspiration for the Polish punk artists' creation.
The song's text has been always important regarding the Polish punk rock music.
The lyrics by Polish punk bands were against: conformity,
mass production and consumption, stupidity, social inequality,
communist system hypocrisy. Punk music in Poland gave an opportunity
to express the opinions that were basically contrary to the views
held by the communist Polish state in the1980s. Thus, the punk music those
times was censored by the red Polish authorities. Unlike other
genres 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 the 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, the Polish show business was not interested
in punk rock bands because their creation and activities were slightly "politically
incorrect". The Polish establishment would rather promote any other
sort of music. Punk was perceived as a danger to "the People's democracy".
Paradoxically, the communist state prohibition of punk creations made
it much more popular amongst the Polish youth. In response to the state sanctions against popularizing punk, the unofficial distribution
system of the punk music occurred. The tapes as well as the vinyl records containing
the music that could not have been bought in any shop or store were given from
hand to hand.
The punk creation seemed to be based on the sincerity and frankness of
artists. The songs were devoted to every day problems encountered not only
by the adolescents but also the adults living in those hard times.
The Polish punk of the 1980s was an anticommunist movement. Furthermore,
some punk movement followers also belonged to the independent
associations that fought back against the communism and the red hypocrisy
in "people's republic of Poland". We must focus our attention
on NZS (The Independent Youth Association) and SOLIDARNOŚĆ (Solidarity).
NZS, SOLIDARNOŚĆ and punk were illegal in the communist Poland.
Moreover, SOLIDARNOŚĆ and punk formed an antitotalitarian front.
SOLIDARITY members represented a 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 the musicians and fans of punk rock in the Western Europe,
USA and Canada. For example, 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 July", that is still so easy to forget
(FSC LUBLIN, WSK ŚWIDNIK) and "Gdańsk August". The crews of those
factories were the first, in the entire country, who went on strike
not only for a better pay but to rebel against the Polish communist state
Polish punk rock in the 1980s
Taking into account the Polish punk rock, it originated quite when the 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 the agents called "Ubeks" or "Sbeks" during the punk rock gigs. They were manipulating
with skinheads and hooligans to make them hostile and aggressive
towards the punk rockers. The musicians of the Polish punk bands as
well as the 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 the independent music had been held 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 systematically and carefully watched by the secret agents and militia. It happened
that some artists or punks were arrested for their look, strange
behaviour or the pogo. Pogo dance was often misinterpreted by the Polish militia
as an extreme form of a teenage aggression. Fortunetely, later they found out
that it was just a punk ritual that could have symbolized helplessness,
worthlessness, simplicity and the feeling that the punks' unity was strength.
An Unofficial newspaper - a fanzine
To end with, the thing that is worth writing concerns an unofficial
newspaper (a fanzine). It was actually invented by punk rockers.
As for the cool Polish punk fanzines, their creators had
got the guts to present all the stuff that was forbidden by
communists those times. Thus, the Polish fanzine was an 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 2022