The “New Flowers” of Bulgarian Punk: Cultural Translation, Local Subcultural Scenes, and Heritage

Asya Draganova

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    Abstract

    First formed in the late 1970s, the Bulgarian punk band Novi Tsvetya was considered one of the first in the country, and they challenged restrictions associated with the totalitarian regime at the time. Focusing on Novi Tsvetya—or “New Flowers”—who are still active on the scene in the small town of Kyustendil where they first started, this chapter seeks to explore the genesis of the translation of “Western” subcultural music scenes into Eastern European Cold War contexts. It is argued that DIY politics of access, creation, and music performance enabled opportunities for youth agency and expression. They were in symbolic opposition to perceived repressive aspects of Cold War social and political environments in Bulgaria. The chapter also interrogates contemporary developments in relation to the wider interpretation of Bulgarian subcultural scenes, particularly a move towards a DIY cultural heritage discourse: a process of mythologizing youth resistance and creativity. While New Flowers and other bands discussed in this chapter are mostly musically and aesthetically engaged with punk and post-punk, the symbol of flowers in their name highlights the connectedness of subcultural scenes with other, earlier youth cultures, particularly the hippie culture. As the word flowers appears elsewhere in Bulgarian punk/post-punk, such as the song “Flowers of the Late 80s” (1987) by Revu, this chapter seeks to develop the notion of flowers as a conceptual and metaphorical device to understand how pre-1989 subcultural youth practices are holistically memorialized. The study is based on ethnographic interviews and observations, alongside analysis of musical, lyrical, and visual content, interpreting punk as an evolving intergenerational global language with a DIY ethos.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock
    PublisherOxford Academic
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 14 Apr 2021

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