UNHEARD: Project Ritz - The Global Gramophone talk

For many, the Soviet Union, due to its Stalinist past, evokes the image of a spartan autocracy led by a militant people; Soviet music is often assumed to be bland agitprop. In fact, the Soviet population lived diverse lives under their various rulers, and the fate of jazz, electronic and even disco music went through phases of boom and bust. Jazz enjoyed official patronage in the Soviet Union as early as the 1920s, but was banned during the Cold War; bootleg jazz records were engraved onto X-Ray film for underground distribution. By the 1970s, Soviet authorities decided to liberalise social mores in compensation for economic stagnation. Long-haired men, flared trousers and the mini-skirt became commonplace. The easing of the nationalities policy allowed Soviet minorities to infuse ethnic influences in jazz and funk. The government even embraced disco, with the Communist Youth League securing a vast state budget to purchase western sound equipment and to open thousands of discos across the country – for a while, before it came crashing down, it seemed the country might dance its way into the future! Talk to be held in English.