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Revisiting State Socialism VI. Dance music as a metaphor for socialist acceleration in Romania in the 1960s and 1980s.

On 15 March, at 19:00, the sixth edition of the project "Revisiting State Socialism" took place with the title "Dance music as a metaphor for socialist acceleration in Romania in the 60s and 80s". The guests were Paul Breazu and Mihai Lukács, and the meeting was moderated by Ștefan Baghiu.

Socialist time was perceived in the late 1960s as accelerated, no longer corresponding to a linear flow, the sound of factory production being associated with new music that was beginning to incorporate electronic sound. In the following decades, Romanian pop, light and electronic music grew in parallel with the new industrialization and development at speed, becoming a soundtrack of the new material conditions of late socialism. Romanian pop ("light") music branched out in new directions in the early 1970s, and its social character gained momentum for creators and the general public. Composer and music historian Laurențiu Profeta noted in 1976 the emergence of militant light music songs in the later years, many of which became slams, reaching a much wider audience. Seen as a result of the party's ideological programme, which left no artistic sector untouched, social-political light music songs became imposed themselves authoritatively. Socialism was not just an economic project, but a complex that encompassed political, social, cultural and artistic dimensions, so the systemic projection onto a pop sub-genre like dance music was not left to chance. This was seen in the conclusions of a conference organised in the early 1960s by the Association of Artists in Theatrical and Musical Institutions, in which the composer Henri Mălineanu, the lyricist Iosif Berg and the performer Gică Petrescu took part, but also, later, in an article published in the magazine Flacăra (March, 1976), by the journalist and event organiser Aurel Gherghel: "We are sure that an intelligent policy of music, patiently made, can create good autochthonous dance music: creation, interpretation, specialized bands - respecting the specificity of dance music for dance".

The whole system of national festivals (in particular, the National Festival of Light Music in Mamaia, the student and youth festivals, the "Siculus" Dance Music Festival and Competition in Odorheiu Secuiesc, the Dance Music Competition in Costinești), radio and TV broadcasts, with a crucial role in disseminating music, the democratisation of music production and the promotion of amateurs through numerous festivals and competitions dedicated to them throughout the country, have had the role of targeting specific age groups, working collectives, diversification based also on the documentation organised by the Composers' Union on building sites, in agricultural establishments, schools, businesses. Logically, sociology itself began to take an interest in the 1970s in the stratified study and identification of the listener/consumer.

Formally, Romanian pop in the 70s was limited to lyrical songs, dance music and entertainment music. Despite the unprecedented success, Profeta noted the main problems of the genre, identified especially at the level of the composers, who also accepted mediocre texts: stereotypical clichés, rhymed and forcibly rhythmic slogans, routine, lack of imagination, obvious platitude, pablum, outdated sentimentality. And these problems have arisen particularly in dance music and "other genres characterised by rhythmic poignancy and youthful dynamism", produced by bands with pseudo-composers, most of them talented but lacking professional training and experience. The inability to develop and the perpetuation of a professionalised dilettantism, even called "musical illiteracy", have been connected by Profeta with new phenomena: aggressive marketing ("they themselves are confused by the noisy advertising that is done around them") and the fast-paced electronic packaging. And professional songwriters were taking their cue from them to enjoy the success of "dance music on the beats of the day, as young people want and expect it".

This work was supported by the project "Philosophy in Late Socialist Europe: Theoretical Practices in the Face of Polycrisis" financed by the European Union - NextgenerationEU and the Government of Romania, within the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for Romania, contract no. 760044//23.05.2023, code PNRR-C9-I8-CF104/15.11.2022, through the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization, within Component 9, Investment I8.

The main partner of is ERSTE Stiftung.