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There were hipsters in Russia during the 1950s, they are just not wearing skinny jeans or growing a mustache. Instead, they were obsessed with the Western culture—in particular, with jazz, boogie woogie, and rock ‘n’ roll. They were called stilyagi. But in the 1950s, unless you had a radio near the border, there was no way to actually hear rock ‘n’ roll. The stilyagi have to get clever and the solution was to make records on their own with exposed X-rays – called bone music.

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Because vinyl was scarce in the Soviet Union, the stilyagi would dig through hospital waste bins to find discarded X-Rays, which were both plentiful and cheap. Using a standard wax disk cutter, the stilyagi would copy Western records that managed to make it into the Soviet Union through satellite countries such as Hungary.


They would then etch a copy of an album into the X-Ray, cut it into a crude circle with manicure scissors, and use a cigarette to burn a hole in the middle, allowing the record to be played on any turntable. This process was famously captured in the opening credits of the 2008 Russian cult film, also called Stilyagi. (think Hairspray the musical with a russian twist)

Unfortunately, Soviet officials eventually caught on, making the practice illegal in 1958. They also broke up the largest underground bone music distributor and sponsored anti-Western music patrol teams as they hunt out more distributors and destroy more bone music.

 Image Source: József  HAJDÚ


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