How Soviet 'Hipsters' Secretly Shared Western Music By Pressing Records on X-Rays

In soviet Russia...

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Back in the days of rock 'n' roll revolution, it wasn't easy to get your hands on the fresh rock sound, especially in U.S.S.R.

A cool story has recently surfaced, explaining how soviet "stilyagi," or "hipsters" as we might call them today, found a way to effectively distribute the notorious music using quite an odd method - X-rays.

An article published on FastCoDesign describes the matter in great detail, explaining how stilyagis used to press records on disposed X-rays that they collected from hospital dumpsters.

"These records only played on a single side, and the quality was low, but they were extremely cheap: A single disc only cost about one ruble on the black market, as opposed to five rubles for a two sided-disc. And it was subversive," the article reads.

"According to Artemy Troitsky’s 1987 book 'Back in the USSR: The True Story of Rock in Russia,' they often contained surprises for the listener: 'Let's say, a few seconds of American rock 'n' roll, then a mocking voice in Russian asking: 'So, thought you'd take a listen to the latest sounds, eh?' followed by a few choice epithets addressed to fans of stylish rhythms, then silence.'

"Soon, an entire underground network of bone music record distributors popped up, called the roentgenizdat, or X-Ray press. Analogous to the samizdat that reproduced censored publications across the Soviet bloc, the roentgenizdat was soon distributing millions of Western records."

However, the officials caught on and "bone music" was banned in 1958. For more info, check out the 2008 Russian movie "Stilyagi."

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16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It's not hipsters you ****s. They could not get the actual vinyls they loved so they had to be pressed on used x-ray sheets. The Soviets banned most western music... Geez.
    broken ipod
    I took a Cold War history class this past year and for my final project presented a report on how the rise of rock music and western culture in the East correlated with the downfall of communism. Along with events such as Springsteen playing in Eastern Berlin and Metallica playing in Moscow, I was sure to include this information to help illustrate the spread of western culture in communist ridden countries.
    A friend's grandfather told me, that they copied vynils into postcards in the basement with the windows covered. The truckdrivers smuggled the western records to the USSR.