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Popular Music in Communist and Post-Communist Europe

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Edited By Jan Blüml, Yvetta Kajanová and Rüdiger Ritter

Through selected topics, the book presents an up-to-date and comprehensive view of the popular music of communist and post-communist Europe. The studies introduce new sources, discuss transformations of the institutional background of popular music of the given geopolitical sphere, its social, cultural-political, or artistic conditions. Thanks to the time span of nearly thirty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the authors have in many ways revised or supplemented traditional post-communist perceptions of the issues in question. This is being done with respect to the genres such as jazz, rock, pop, singer-songwriters, hip-hop, or White Power Music, as well as across the whole region from the former Yugoslavia through Central European states to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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Czech Popular Music before 1989 and the Institution of the ‘Discotheque’

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Abstract: The chapter deals with the phenomenon of discotheques in the pre-1989 Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, specifically in its Czech part. The starting points as well as the specific features and social functions of the discotheque as a cultural form (or institution) are taken into account. The chapter also discusses the organizational and other contexts of dance and listening ‘discotheque programmes’, with attention given to the relationship between discotheques and the norms of communist state cultural policy, its administrative consequences regarding the status of disc jockeys (‘social entertainment announcers’), their education at the ‘first Czechoslovak school for disc jockeys’, etc.

Keywords: Czechoslovakia; popular music; discotheque; disc jockey; communist cultural policy; normalization

Among the most significant phenomena of Czech popular music and culture before 1989 were discotheques, publicly accessible dance and listening programmes presented by disc jockeys, the basic dramaturgy of which consisted of a selection and presentation of recordings from various style-genre areas. This fact is documented in a number of surveys and statements by contemporaneous cultural institutions, including the Olomouc District Cultural Centre whose 1980 report on discotheques states:

This kind of entertainment is now a subject of interest to a broad strata of the population of our region. In particular, young people, as well as a large group of middle-aged people, view discotheques as a modern and fashionable type of social entertainment which expresses the ‘young’ lifestyle. Discotheque programmes actually prevail over other forms of social entertainment.2

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