Virtual Voices

AC/DC and Bulgaria: 25 years later

Politics

It was around the time when I launched the first war on my facial pimples that I discovered heavy metal. No, I am not talking about the mercury in the thermometer, or the cast iron radiator in our family kitchenette. My best friend's older brother introduced us to the hardest rock bands of the 1970s. Soon thereafter every cool boy in the neighborhood had renounced his disco past. Some joined the swelling ranks of the underground Bulgarian branch of the KISS army; some would roam the night streets of Sofia and yell "punk's not dead"---always after checking that the police was not around to arrest them for anti-socialist propaganda. As for me and my friends, we found one AC/DC tape smuggled across the Iron Curtain by a truck driver. The quality of the recording was awful---you could not understand more than a dozen words. We could not care less for the lyrics though---it gave us 60 minutes of headbanging fun and that was the best part of every private party during my high school days.

Last week all those memories resurfaced as I went to my first AC/DC concert at Bulgaria's national stadium. (I also remembered how one terribly boring electrotechnics lecture on alternating current [AC] vs. direct current [DC] made me realize that engineering was not the right major for me.) Just a beer can's throw away, Angus Yong was torturing his guitar until it sounded like a hungry T-Rex. I watched in disbelief as the 55-year-old Australian was rolling over the stage in his shorts---just as my puppy used to do begging for a belly scratch. With 50,000 heavy metal fans from all over Europe around me I was screaming my head off at the concluding song "For those about to rock"---a teenager's dream come true 25 years later.

I looked around me---there wasn't a single cop with a political agenda to tell me how to breathe right, only the smiling faces of free people having fun. At midnight I was walking back home when another song came to me---blues singer Vasko Krupkata (The Patch) singing "Communism is leaving; sleep well, little children" during anti-government rallies at the dawn of the Bulgarian democracy. I took a couple of aspirins for my AC/DC-induced headache and I thought of my two children---how lucky they are to be born in the land of the free and how I hope that they learn to value their freedom without going through the pain of socialist serfdom.

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Alex Tokarev
Alex Tokarev

Alex is the chair of the Department of Business at Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill., and teaches at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. The native of communist Bulgaria fanatically supports the Bulgarian soccer team, Levski.

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