In 1991, after a long period of peace and prosperity, a war began in the Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. A bloody civil war rapidly spread over Bosnia and Croatia, lasting for years and taking thousands of human lives.
Although Serbs were directly involved in the war, there was no war in the Serbian territory, but the country suffered over 10 years of sanctions, bombings and total isolation under the dictatorship of Milosevic. Since there was no TV station, radio, or newspaper free of state control it was not difficult to rule people. The state offered them only one kind of information, one type of culture, and one way of having fun...the easiest one. In those days on TV was almost impossible to see any other kind of music except turbo-folk, artificially created mutant between folk and dance music that has an almost hypnotic effect on the masses with its repetitive rhythm and banal lyrics.
Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia, was probably the most affected by this cultural change. War profiteers and the new rich brought with them values which returned Belgrade to the Dark Ages. Cultural institutions were closed down, or became strongly controlled by Milosevic's people, and there was no space in the media for any kind of alternative culture. The numerous students’ protests did not change a thing – the dictator was too powerful.
Since there was no place for alternative culture to grow “in the day light”, it moved deep under the ground. Far from big concert halls or media attention, a rich and various underground culture was growing. The word was spreading from month to month, and there was no need for any kind of advertising. Because there was no possibility of earning money, nobody ever thought of it. Everything that was happening was based on pure enthusiasm; everything was free of charge and D.I.Y. Young people got new stuff on the black market, on Bulgarian pirate tapes, or on exchange: get the comic, read it and exchange it for new one! If someone got a new album of some western band, that same day he would made a huge number of copies and spread it amongst his circle of friends, who would in turn spread it even further.
Supporting the scene and being part of it wasn't just a question of personal taste or life style. Being part of the scene meant to be against the system, it was the only way for a young person to show that he did not agree, to say: I am not like u!
Because the people who were following and taking part in this subculture were the only ones to say anything against the political situation in the country it was expected that these kids would also be the ones who would lead the revolution. When the revolution finally took place, however, and Milosevic was taken out of power, most people were very disappointed. The new democratic government didn't fulfill expectations: the economic situation didn't get much better, corruption and organized criminal still existed, and borders remained closed.
The underground scene had changed a lot. Most of the important bands, who had good reputation during the 90s, took the first opportunity to sell out to the big labels, changing a lot of their ways. Others continued just as they had in the past, but without the kind of inspiration they had showed back then. Ones when the opportunity to earn some money became real lots of people start considering fickle scrawling a guitar in some basement when you can finally do something serious. Foreign artists began to come to Serbia, knowing how eager the Serbs were to hear anything from abroad, and that they could always have a public there. The domestic scene lost its importance. It seems that now that there was a choice, there was no need to be radical anymore... and that's why a once strong and united underground scene in Belgrade has became watered down and divided in small groups.
Luckily, not everyone gave up on underground culture: some of them kept going, maybe with even more fanaticism than before, gathering new generations of young people, who are more and more aware that real art can only be created in these kind of places.