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Rocking out


The Leningrad Rock Club, which was once at the center of the Soviet Union`s underground rock scene, celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The Leningrad Rock Club, known as the first organization in the Soviet Union to put on concerts of rock music at a time when it was officially frowned upon, celebrated its 25th anniversary on Tuesday.

To mark the anniversary, prominent figures from the club`s history gathered for a quiet celebration at St. Petersburg`s Kamchatka club. In Moscow, a major concert in honor of the club`s birthday, featuring bands such as Aria and Moralny Kodeks, will take place Friday at Luzhniki Sports Palace.

The rock club was launched on March 7, 1981, with an informal concert of four bands in a Leningrad theater. Throughout the 1980s - an extremely prolific time for Russian rock - the club hosted an entire galaxy of bands, among them Akvarium, Zoopark, Kino, Alisa and DDT.

Later, press reports suggested that the club was started on the initiative of the KGB, which wanted to keep an eye on the country`s quasi-legal rock music scene. Although the first Soviet rock musicians appeared in the 1960s and were originally supported by the Komsomol youth organization, the rock scene in the 1970s and 1980s was largely underground.

Sergei Firsov, a participant in the Leningrad Rock Club for 19 years and currently the president of the Kamchatka club, said that the authorities` plan to monitor rock musicians ulimately backfired.

"With their texts and music, the bands [of the Leningrad Rock Club] played their part in the collapse of the Soviet Union," Firsov said by telephone from St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

However, the club`s current president, Nikolai Mikhailov, flatly denied that the KGB played any role in starting the organization. Speaking by telephone from St. Peterbsurg on Wednesday, Mikhailov said the KGB tried to control everything, which was normal back then, but it was friendlier to them than other government agencies.

Mikhailov also said that the participants of Tuesday`s anniversary party discussed various ideas for commemorating the club`s place in history. They included opening a museum of rock `n` roll in St. Petersburg and placing a memorial plaque on the the club`s first building, located at 13 Ulitsa Rubinshteina.

Source: Rocking out

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