Rock This Town! Rise of the rockabilly subculture in Czechoslovakia during the 1980s., Jonáš Chmátal, 2. – 3. 6. 2016

Popular Music in Eastern Europe, University of Debrecen

The rockabilly subculture persists in the Czech cultural space until the present day. This essay focuses on its roots in the second half of the 1980s when the very first bands were formed. Before that no one in Czechoslovakia had ever heard of rockabilly so there was a need to explore this form of rock’ n’ roll and to find a way to perform it. This was not an easy task, because everything, from visual style to the music, had to be imported from abroad.

This paper describes this cultural transfer, its dynamics and sources. Oral historical research shows that this transfer was based mostly on various cultural artifacts such as music records and movies. This research also demonstrates that Stray Cats records and movies such as Elvis Presley or American Hot Wax especially created important elements of a shared experience among the future rockabilly fans and musicians. This experience combined with some DIY aspects and personal enthusiasm laid the foundations for rockabilly. Because of this, people were ready to rock already before 1989 and burst to rockin’ even more after that.

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