There was no place like this on Eastern European map, in the Communist Block. The small town of Jarocin, in Greater Poland, becomes a symbol of independence, rebellion, and freedom in a system of oppression: all thanks to rock music.
Before 1989 Poland was a country ruled by communism and censorship. The country was steeped in economic crisis, food was limited and issued in exchange for ‘coupons’. Polish citizens were becoming increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated. The Solidarity movement is born and after one and a half year is forcefully disbanded by the military junta which instated martial law. The streets are overrun by fighting with the militia and workers and students are dying in the streets.
Jarocin Festival emerges from this world, like an island in a sea of communist absurdity, and stands for a type of freedom and assertion of personal identity. Party officials in Warsaw initially fail to notice the phenomenon; few in the capital even knew where this town with a population of twenty-thousand was. All the while, several thousand rebellious young people gathered each year in Jarocin to listen to music. That music becomes the voice of a generation of Poles dissatisfied with their contemporary social and political reality, and thus the festival becomes a vehicle to push them to action. For more and more musicians, rock is a catalyst for fostering the art of rebellion and liberation from the shackles of totalitarian absurdity. The cry of freedom echoes throughout the country and beyond its borders.
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