Í gegnum járntjaldið. Íslenskir popparar í austurvegi á síðustu árum kalda stríðsins
Ferðir íslenskra poppara austur fyrir járntjaldið voru fátíðar í kalda stríðinu enda litu yfirvöld í kommúnistaríkjum á vestræna dægurtónlist sem ógn við sósíalíska menningu og stjórnarfar. Á níunda áratug síðustu aldar fóru tveir vinsælustu dægurtónlistarflytjendur Íslands, Björgvin Halldórsson og Stuðmenn, í slíkar tónleikaferðir -- Björgvin ásamt hljómsveit til Sovétríkjanna árið 1982 og Stuðmenn, eða Strax, til Kína árið 1986. Tildrög ferðanna og umfjöllun um þær eru hér skoðaðar í samhengi við dægurmenningu og hlutverk hennar í hugmyndafræðilegum átökum stórveldanna. Í greininni er ótti sovéskra yfirvalda við spillingaráhrif íslensku popparanna greindur sem og atbeini og þróun viðhorfa íslensks tónlistarfólks á þessum síðustu árum kalda stríðsins.
In autumn 1982, the Icelandic pop star Björgvin Halldórsson toured the Soviet Union with a full band for an entire month. The Bo Halldorsson Ensemble travelled from Moscow to cities including Novokuznetsk, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Sochi, Yerevan, and Tbilisi, playing twenty-seven concerts for about fifty thousand people in total. In 1986, the Icelandic pop band Stuðmenn – or Strax, as they were called at the time – travelled to the People’s Republic of China and gave ten concerts in seven cities. These two tours are analysed in the context of recent research about popular culture and popular music in relation to the cultural Cold War. Theories about the “porous Iron Curtain” or the “Nylon Curtain” are introduced in order to challenge the dominant Western view that Soviet and Chinese citizens lived in complete cultural isolation during the Cold War. Soviet audiences in particular had a certain degree of access to both Western and Soviet popular music, even if it was strictly controlled and monitored by the relevant Soviet authorities. Sources from Moscow reveal a tenacious paradox in Soviet cultural propaganda and indoctrination. While inviting Western pop musicians to tour the Soviet Union and thereby wanting to appear open and welcoming, Soviet authorities also worried about the damaging influence of Western pop music on Soviet youth. Communist ideologues saw Western popular culture as a threat to socialist culture and values – ultimately worrying that it would undermine the rule of the Communist Party. By the mid-1980s, when Stuðmenn/Strax went to China, the international discourse had changed somewhat, and the band paved the way for other Icelandic musicians who advocated for peace and dialogue during the Cold War. Both the 1982 trip to the Soviet Union and the 1986 trip to China received much attention in Iceland, and there were high hopes about these tours opening up new market opportunities for Icelandic music. Even if that did not turn out to be the case, the tours were well received by their audiences and show a dimension of the Cold War in which popular culture and personal advocacy played an important role.