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Free Content Forward march in the East: From ‘Wash-Wash-Ska’ (1965) to reggae outta Poland (2010s)

Not unlike the Caribbean, where the syncopated rhythms provided the soundtrack to the lives of the disenfranchised, ‘in communist Poland and Czechoslovakia [...] reggae’s celebration of the dispossessed struck a chord that led to the formation of dozens of local groups playing Jamaican-structured music’ (Salewicz 2000). Similarly, though not propelled by the anti-authoritarian aesthetics of the revolutionary 1970s, but informed by the then novelty factor, ska found its way into the repertoire of Alibabki, an all-female vocal group that ruled the Polish charts in the 1960s. Focusing on contextualized, diachronic milestones, the article analyses selected manifestations of reggae music in Poland, including instances of its cross-pollination, commodification and normative co-option by global market forces. Defined by its genre-specific qualities and at the same time genre-defying, reggae has not only yielded a vibrant summer festival scene in Poland, but also given rise to a year-round sound system culture, signature radio shows and local dancehall queens, all of which will be duly discussed as well.

Keywords: Alibabki; Izrael; Vavamuffin; communism; reggae

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for the Meeting of Cultures in Lublin

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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UA-1313315-26