rebel waltz


(Photo Credit: Robert Ochnio) 

Venue: Le Poisson Rouge at 158 Bleecker Street

Held on the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, Rebel Waltz: Underground Music From Behind the Iron Curtain is a weekend-long music festival featuring Eastern European bands active in the underground music scene behind the Iron Curtain. Forced to play in illegal venues before 1989 and unable to travel, these bands faced oppression and censorship to make their voices heard. During the 1980s, the music of these bands served as a form of political rebellion, carrying coded messages against oppressive regimes. Twenty years later, the same music is a celebration of a successful movement for change.

Concert: November 6, Friday, from 7PM [Doors Open at 6PM]

Psi Vojaci (Czech Republic)

Bez ladu a skladu (Slovak Republic)

Timpuri Noi (Romania)


Concert: November 7, Saturday, from 11PM [Doors Open at 10:30]

Kontroll Csoport (Hungary)

Dezerter (Poland)

*Schedule change for November 7th: Unfortunately, Pankrti will not be allowed to travel to the United States in time and will not be performing in the Rebel Waltz concert.

Panel Discussion: November 7, Saturday, from 4PM

Join us for a conversation with the bands at The New School, Jazz and Contemporary Music Program. Moderated by Matthew Covey and the screening of BEATS OF FREEDOM or how to overthrow a totalitarian regime with a simple use of home-made amplifier (click here for a description), a documentary on Polish music of the 80s. Location: THE NEW SCHOOL, Jazz and Contemporary Music Program Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 5th Floor, Room 531 (Free Admission)

All of the Rebel Waltz bands will be making their U.S. premieres for this festival. A historic event you don’t want to miss!

Admission: $15 (18 to Enter, 21+ to Drink)
Visit: to purchase


Bez ladu a skladu

The band "Bez ladu a skladu" started their music career in 1985 in Trenčín, Slovak Republic. The members of the band were only 15 years old at that time; the lead singer and songwriter Michal Kaščák was 13. In 1986 they played their first  “big gig” during Rockfest in Prague. The band soon became one of the leading figures in the Czechoslovak underground music scene.
Bez ladu a skladu played at the major concerts of the alternative music (Rockfest 1986-89; Čertovo kolo 1987, 1988; Slovrock 1987, 1988; Lipnice 1988). At Lipnice ‘88 the band performed immediately after the speech of the dissident writer and soon-President of the Czechoslovak Republic, Vaclav Havel. Before the "Velvet Revolution" in 1989 the band were active and vocal opponents of the Communist establishment. As a result, they were never able to openly record and distribute their music.
After 1989 the band continued their career, mainly in France. Finally able to record and
release their music, they completed their first album in 1990. When the members of the band completed their studies, Bez ladu a skladu broke apart. Today, they play together only rarely.

Listen to sounclips here.



"Aggressive and assertive anarcho-punk with fast guitar riffs and intelligent lyrics."

Dezerter is the leading representative of Polish punk. After three decades, Dezerter is still going strong, its musical integrity and two of its original members intact—Robert "Robal" Matera (guitar and vocals) and Krzysiek Grabowski (drums and lyrics)—with Jacek Chrzanowski on bass since 2000. In the spring of 1981, the heyday of the Solidarity movement that had peacefully won extraordinary freedoms within a Soviet satellite, the young musicians called themselves SS-20, a name provocatively referring to a Soviet nuclear missile. A month after the group’s debut concert, the regime imposed martial law, temporarily ending Solidarity’s gains. Under the circumstances SS-20 agreed to the censor’s deletions from their programs but went ahead and played the songs anyway. When their name was then banned from posters they changed it to Dezerter. Though released officially with censor’s restrictions and a colorless sleeve, their first LP–the first punk single to critique the system–sold 50,000 copies before a reissue was cancelled. Hugely popular throughout Europe and Japan, the group’s many hit records include its first US album, Underground Out of Poland, in 1987, and 1994’s How I Stopped World War Three. The 2006 two-disk album Punk's Not Jazz honored Dezerter's 25th birthday.

Listen to soundclip here
Watch video here

Kontroll Csoport

"Quirky and original post-punk with poetic motives, delivered with lively and intense performances"

Kontroll Csoport was founded on New Year’s Eve in 1980. The group’s original musicians included Csaba Hajnóczy, Ágnes Bárdos Deák and László Kistamás, with multiple new members today.
The group played an important role in the underground scene in a Hungary trapped behind the Iron Curtain. They had a profound impact on the rock poetry of the period. Though the group could only publish their music after the political changes, some of their recordings were distributed illegally beforehand. This helped the Hungarian cultural opposition to enlarge into a movement. Before the political transition their only concert abroad was in Café Ring in Vienna.
An expert of the era, Tamás Szőnyei describes the group as having '...the power of punk, pathos of the opera, reggae and country, chanson, oriental motives and repetitions, all living together in harmony.' 'Lyrics were mostly, as in the case of the greatest, about love and freedom. Their trick was that their music was pleasant to listen to even to conservative ears, so they wrapped their messages into a nice package,' assesses Szőnyei. Member of the New York underground of that period, namely Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, John Cage and the Velvet Underground had a great effect on the thinking of the group. Ultimately, the group created a unique fusion of styles and a powerful message that preserves its names as one of the most important in Eastern European underground music.

After 1983, Kontroll Csoport continued with new members alongside the original talent.
The lineup now includes:
Hajnóczy, Csaba: Kampec Dolores
Kistamás, László: Balkan Fouturist
Müller, Péter Sziámi: Sziámi
Bárdos Deák, Ágnes: Ági és fiúk
Farkas, Zoltán: keleti fény
Újvári, János and Lehoczki, Károly: Új Nem

Watch videos (with dual-language lyrics):

The House of Fear-A félelem háza


Pankrti (“Bastards”) are a seminal punk rock band from Ljubljana, Slovenia, known for provocative, political songs. They are one of the most important former-Yugoslav punk groups and one of the first punk bands formed in a socialist state. Pankrti was formed by Peter Lovšin and Gregor Tomc in 1977, who practiced in the basement of the local music school. They released their first album in 1978 and called themselves "The First Punk Band Behind The Iron Curtain". Some of their first hits were "Za železno zaveso" (Behind The Iron Curtain), "Anarhist" (Anarchist) and "Lublana je bulana". In 1984 they released Red Album, a pun on the famous album by The Beatles and the red color as a symbol of communism. The album featured a cover version of the famous Italian communist revolutionary song “Bandiera Rossa” (Red Flag), which is one of their most famous tracks.
Watch video here

Psí Vojáci (Dog Soldiers)

"Sophisticated and jazzy avant-garde rock with strong punk influences, lead by innovative piano compositions."

Hailing from Prague, Czech Republic, Psí Vojáci was created three decades ago by singer, songwriter and lyricist Filip Topol. Their first performance in 1979 was at the legendary festival Prague Jazz Days, when the band members were hardly over the age of 13. They were immediately registered by Czechoslovakian secret police. The band was prohibited from performing officially, so it appeared only at private underground events. After the democratic changes in Czechoslovakia in 1989, Psí vojáci became a favorite band of local Prague festivals and club scene. Over the years, the band's style as well as the line-up has changed. Since the mid-1980s the band has performed under the name P.V.O. (Psí vojáci osobně) and Prague Juniorklub Na Chmelnici (today Palác Akropolis) became their home venue. They have performed internationally in Hungary, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S.A. Psí vojáci has also made appearances at foreign festivals such as Eurorock in Belgium (with Jesus And Mary Chain) and Belfort in France (with Carlos Santana). Their songs have been used in several movies (e.g. 'Žiletky' directed by Zdeněk Tyc with Filip Topol appearing in the role of the main character), and scored various works of theater. Psí vojáci's music has its roots in underground and punk, as well as the romantic composers of the late 19th century. Psí vojáci recently celebrated their 20-year anniversary with a sold-out concert at the prestigious Lucerna Grand Hall in Prague.

Listen to soundclip here
Watch video here

Timpuri Noi

"Energetic and politically charged rock’n’roll with new wave influences and catchy, anthem-like melodies powerful enough to lift the band from banned underground act to celebrated voice of a nation."

In the summer of 1982, Timpuri Noi (Modern Times) set out writing politically charged rock & roll. Their subversive early songs, including "Perfect" and "Drumul spre lumina" ("The Road to Light") soon got them banned by the Romanian Communist Party from public radio and television, and they were placed under the surveillance of the Romanian Secret Services. With band member Razvan Moldovan having fled to Western Europe five months before the 1989 overthrow of the Communist regime in Romania, and within the murky context of the December Revolution, the song "Perfect" became the most popular Romanian hit in decades. Timpuri Noi transformed itself from Romania's most underground act into one of the country's top mainstream bands. The band continued its politically engaged songwriting, releasing in the early '90s more songs depicting the social and economic changes in post-revolutionary Romania: "Victoria" (Victory), "N-ATO" (a word pun for NATO), and "Emigrant USA". In the spotlight for more than 25 years, Timpuri Noi has been the voice of three generations of Romanian fans.

Current line up: Dan Iliescu - guitars; Adrian "Artan" Plesca - lead singer; Andrei Barbulescu - drums; Victor Benjamin Rivalet  - keyboards & groovebox; Radu Florin Tuliga - vocals & DJ mixing.

Official band website (Romanian only):

View a 1987 live performance of "Perfect" at Club A in Bucharest, one of the outposts of Romanian underground music in the '80s. Watch video here

"Umbrella" Watch video here

Listen to sounclips here.


Watch Videos

Kontroll Csoport: A Félelem Háza
Kontroll Csoport: Kis Piros Bombázó
Kontroll Csoport: A zene mindenkié
Pankrti: Za železno zaveso
Pankrti: Bandiera Rossa
Pankrti: Osmi dan
Psi Vojaci: Ziletky
Timpuri Noi: Tata


Presented by The Hungarian Cultural Center in collaboration with the Czech Center New York, Polish Cultural Institute in New York, Romanian Cultural Institute New York, the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Rebel Waltz also serves as the opening event for Performing Revolution in Central and Eastern Europe (November 6, 2009 - March 31, 2010), a five-month long festival including the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ performing arts exhibition Revolutionary Voices: Performing Arts in Central & Eastern Europe in the 1980s (November 18, 2009 - March 20, 2010).

Additional support provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture, and the +421 Foundation.

Rebel Waltz is an original production of Extremely Hungary.