Bring back some good or bad memories


March 10, 2023

Before Smart Phones, Polish Attendees Hold Up Tape Players to Record Acts at the Punk Festival Jarocin in 1986

Jarocin’s festival was based in terms of its organization and atmosphere on the famous American Woodstock Festival, thus it is sometimes called the Polish Woodstock. In the 1980s it was regarded as an escape from the drab, poor reality of the late period Polish People’s Republic. It lasted 3 days, and was usually held at the beginning of August.

The festival attracted thousands of fans (e.g. in 1986 there were more than 30,000 of them), who lived in tents and came to listen to music which was otherwise hardly (or never) played on Polish radio or TV. Still, many believe that Jarocin was designed by the totalitarian government’s secret services, to create a “safe outlet” for the restless Polish youth.

A variety of music was played over the course of the festival, but generally speaking, “alternative” genres – blues, rock, heavy metal, punk rock, and reggae were played. Bands performed on two stages, with the bigger one located on the local football pitch. Many fans brought cassette players with them to record the music. This was one of the only chances to record and distribute music on cassettes that didn’t appear in official mass-media because of the authorities strict policies on the publishing of “Western-style” music.

(Photos by Krzysztof Wojcik)


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