New order: Russian subcultures of the Eighties

Russia in the Eighties is most commonly associated with perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). What is less well known is that the liberalisation that took place in this decade and the greater freedoms that accompanied it gave rise to a series of underground music scenes in Moscow and St Petersburg, most of which took their inspiration from western subcultures.

In his book Hooligans of the 80s, Misha Buster, a Moscow-based artist, graphic designer and self-styled anthropologist, captures a period of sartorial defiance towards a Soviet regime largely reviled as stagnant and corrupt. The book comprises more than 20 interviews and 800-odd black-and-white photographs amassed from members of six different subcultures: punk, metal, breakdance, rock, new wave and rockabilly. A decade later and most of these movements were eclipsed by the commercialism of mainstream fashion.

“In the perestroika period many adolescents took up brutal non-Soviet concepts characterised by anti-heroism, bravado and the originality of the hooligan,” writes Buster. “All this happened as part of the clash between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ and these style images, in turn, protected our own adolescent idealism and became key criteria in the search for others like ourselves on the streets of many Soviet cities.”

28 February 2013

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