A punk in the club, a civilian at school

It is 1981 and he is 13. On Tuesdays and Sundays he goes to a club called Disko Študent in the cellar of the student dormitories in Rožna dolina in Ljubljana, to meet up with other punks who go there too. The media have launched a moral panic in the form of a campaign linking punk to Nazism. The police will stop punks in the streets and take down their personal details. Some will get raided later on.  

After Disko Študent is closed down a new club quickly opens in Šiška in 1983. He buys a faux black leather jacket from Miha who originally bought it in Trieste but who has now outgrown it. The jacket becomes a canvas. He works on it, but slowly, adding something one week, something else another week. He writes the names of his favourite bands on it: Conflict, the Mob, Icons of Filth, and U.B.R. who are from Ljubljana and who he knows personally. The symbols on the jacket are a circled A for anarchy, a circled E for ecology, a CND symbol and that of a broken machine gun for pacifism. One slogan on the jacket states: “against all violence even in self-defence”; another says “heretic” next to a Christian cross. 

He wears the jacket when he goes to the club in Šiška, but never when he goes to secondary school. He is afraid of possible repercussions. His class teacher is a very orthodox member of the Communist Party. On the first day of school she said: “I see that nearly everyone is wearing jeans. This is similar to our great socialist sister state China, where people all wear the same clothes as well.” She teaches biology, but the class spends the first term listening to her explaining the principles of dialectical materialism. She thinks homosexuality is a western import and that all punks are Nazis. He is also afraid of another teacher who is also very conservative, but this is because he is a Catholic. There is a song about the way he is acting. Being a punk in the club, but a civilian at school. He’s painfully aware of his mimicry and the song. It’s called  “Part Time Punks” by the Television Personalities. 

The punks are definitely not Nazis. When they listen to Western punk and its social critique they know that capitalism is not the solution. Experience teaches them that socialism is no utopia either. The first Yugoslav punk group, Pankrti, have a song called Anarchist; O!Kult have a cassette edition that quotes Marx and Engels extensively: they want the practice of socialism to live up to its radical theory. A song by Stres D.A. makes a simple point very effectively: “Communism, communism, communism - blah, blah; socialism, socialism, socialism - ha, ha”. His step-father’s father, Josip Vidmar, was one of the founders of the Slovene Liberation Front in 1941. He is still an important figure. In conversation with the boy, he dismisses punk as being nothing more than just a fashion. 

He listens to punk and hardcore bands from different parts of Yugoslavia, the UK, and the USA, and to the Brazilian and Finnish hardcore records and tapes circulating among the third generation of Ljubljana’s punks. During the day, the hardcore punks meet in the centre of the city in Lenin’s park and drink cheap wine. A disproportionate number of them come from ethnically non-Slovene families, or ethnically mixed families. They are outsiders in Slovenia but insiders and internationalists in punk and hardcore. Records, tapes, fanzines, and paraphernalia circulate all the time and across borders too. His father sometimes sends him punk records from the UK, others he orders by post by just putting a wad of dinars in an envelope and sending it off.  None of the anarcho-punk records he orders, some of which have quite politically charged record covers, very explicit anti-authoritarian lyrics and extensive sleeve notes, are ever intercepted by customs or the police. The punks squat a building on Kersnikova street in Ljubljana in 1983 and a new club, K4, is soon established there after Siška is closed down.