Friday 12 September 2008
Further to Jon Lusk's obituary of Hector Zazou (10 September),
writes Ken Hunt, Pierre Job's alias had a far greater resonance than merely alluding to a post-war hipster subculture. Les Zazous were the French manifestation of an anti-fascist youth subculture that sprang up in many occupied countries in the 1930s and 1940s. They allied themselves with swing jazz – labelled degenerate by the Nazis – and listened and danced to it at great personal peril. Such a person in France was a Zazou, in Czechoslovakia a Potapky (ducking and diving like "great crested grebes") and in Germany and Austria a Schlurf – a taunting term of abuse for sluts and louts turned around.
Many disappeared or were imprisoned. Monica Ladurner's film Schlurf: With Swing Against The Goosestep (2006) is a recommended starting point for appreciating how dangerous jazz once was. Zazou meant far more than modishness.
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