Punk is not dead: a brief statement
We intend, at this point, make a workup approach that locates the Portuguese punk in a global context, emphasizing its specificities arising from its appropriation in a non-Anglo-Saxon context and in a society located in southern Europe. Especially in Lisbon, at the beginning, and later (mid-1980s) in Oporto and Aveiro, punk appeared in Portugal with bands, gigs, fans, fanzines, scenes. It was not so much a new sound, but a new form of identity expression in the face of society, to politics, norms and values, grounded in resistance, in criticism and rejection of the system – such as pointed the words of the interviewee placed in the introduction of this text.
It is still important to remember the fact that almost all of the punk bands express themselves in Portuguese until the mid 1990s. This is equally relevant today, since approximately 65% of the bands express themselves in Portuguese, contrary to what happens in some countries outside the Anglo-Saxon world, such as Eastern European countries. Important about Portuguese punk relates to the fact that punk itself has been the most visible face of the cosmopolitan and artistic rituals of youth culture in Portugal in the first half of the 1980s by the consumption of symbolic and aesthetic goods, but also by the creation of an artistic and urban atmosphere that crossed the night, fashion, cinema, video, music, visual arts… At this time, and especially in Lisbon, many crossovers have been established between punk and new wave and post-punk.
Later, and first by effects of Portugal joined the European Community in 1986, and after the liberalization of the television and cable television outbreak in 1995 and the widespread use of the Internet in 1997, we have a full of youth manifestations linked to punk. Some refer the mid 80s as the second wave of punk Portuguese and the 1990s as the third wave. The truth is that in the 1980s the number of bands was scarce and was confined to Lisbon and Porto, while the 1990s saw a spread of punk scenes throughout the coastal, urban and Atlantic seaboard of our country.
We are facing an important case of cultural hybridity which fluctuates between mimicry and recreation – and which characterizes with intensity the Portuguese case and makes its difference compared to other scenes, including Spanish. In Spanish punk scene, for example, the adoption in different time periods, sometimes in a more mimetic stance, sometimes in a most original perspective, led to a very different configuration of punk. The Portuguese punk, in a most irresolute path between both poles – not giving to mimicry, or the recreation – has become an important punk scene marked by various subgenres all coexisting within different geographic spaces throughout the country. Thus, at present, still appearing bands supported by local scenes in urban areas of the country with a more or less ephemeral existence, with the realization of rehearsals, the organization of informal and nonstructured gigs and festivals. Therefore, it remains important to consider that Portuguese punk universe moves a set of actors who play multiple roles simultaneously within the scene, being polycentric of point of view of its actors: they are musicians, promoters, record label magers, fans, they make fanzines…
Do-it-yourself (DIY) mark, as in all punk scenes, the activities carried out within this universe. An important and constant case over the decades have been the case of punk fanzines; it is obvious that their number increased with the increase number of participants in the scene. This DIY ethos works with particular intensity in the drive of strong familiarity networks and mutual inter-knowledge among Portuguese punks: what is influenced by the small size of the country. Therefore, this informal relational capital will provide conditions for the perpetuation of the DIY ethos by allowing mutual aid in issues such as instruments, transport, light and sound, rehearsal’s rooms, show rooms… The uniqueness of the Portuguese punk scene is also energized by the vibrancy and advocacy of underground. Thus, punk bands which have an established position in the Portuguese punk scene are rare and object of intense criticism; the Portuguese punk never met marketing processes of masses, and (past nearly four decades) it remains in a objective and subjective claim of fight against system, or as António Sérgio would said, “by the right to difference”.