Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rubella Ballet

Left to right: Gem, Sid and Zillah.
     Even more colorful than Hagar The Womb, Rubella Ballet was another creative band that wanted to get away from the black 'uniforms' several other bands were wearing while shouting out that lyrics weren't always about the bomb or wars. Formed in 1979, after several random practices(live ones) and vocalists including Annie Anxiety, the band ultimately came to a steady line up consisting of Zillah Minx on vocals, and three of The Fatal Microbes' ex-members. Sid played drums, Gem played bass and Pete Fender played guitar. Due to their connections with Crass, and Gem and Pete being Poison Girls' vocalist/guitarist Vi Subversa's children, the band found themselves fortunate enough to find places to play at without difficulty, a label to release music with and equipment. The band first appeared live during a Crass/Poison Girls concert at the Conway Hall in Redo Lion Square, London, but played their first 'real' gig at a fundraiser, opening for Poison Girls at the Theatre Royal in Stratford.

     In 1980, the band released their first batch of material in a cassette titled "Ballet Bag" with some additional guitar work from Andy Smith. The band had decided to work on the release by themselves, so they spent days creating, writing, printing and putting together the lyric booklets, badges and tapes into individual bags. In the end, nearly five thousand copies were sold. It was released on Poison Girls' Xntrix label.

     Slightly later, Sid was recruited by Flux of Pink Indians on drums to play in their "Neu Smell" E.P in 1981. Due to Crass's drummer Penny Rimbaud telling Sid that he should do more drum rolls, Rubella Ballet refused their single that was being offered to them on Crass Records. However, the main reason why they didn't want to release a single with Crass was because they did not want to be told how to sound and didn't want to have the same black and white sleeve that all the other bands were getting. They wanted to do everything the way they wanted to, with a color sleeve.

     Rubella Ballet's first single "Ballet Dance" was was recorded and released in 1982 on the Xntrix label. It shot into the Indie top ten and led to two John Peel Sessions on July 6th, 1982, and February 8th, 1983. In 1982, however, Pete Fender left Rubella Ballet to focus on Omega Tribe and was replaced by Mark Adams from the Chaos Bros. Mark was featured in the second John Peel Session. By 1985, Gem was not in the band anymore and had been replaced by Adam and Zillah's younger sister Rachel 'Rachel Minx' Irene Jane Ashworth, and their 'Money Talks' 12" was released that year on the Ubiquitous label. Later but also during that same year, Adam was replaced by Steve Cachman, and their debut L.P. 'At Last It's Playtime' was released, once again on Ubiquitous.

     However, the constant line up changes were beginning to exacerbate the band's progress. Each time they acquired new guitarists and bassists, they had to teach them their sets, but their recruits would either become to drunk to play them live or leave the band before they could even become a part of it which frustrated Sid and Zillah.

Drummer Sid.
     Next, In 1986, their 'If' L.P. and 'Artic Flowers' single were released on the Ubiquitous label. Afterwards, 1986 saw the release of their 'Cocktail Mix' album(Ubiquitous) and in 1988, the 'Birthday Box' double-L.P.(a live L.P.) was released. By 1990, the band released their last album titled 'At The End Of The Rainbow' on Brave records.

Guitarist Pete Fender on the right.
     Unfortunately, Rubella Ballet split in 1991 after their last gig at the Camden Palace. Zillah and Sid decided that they had had enough, seeing as though another guitarist and bassist had left the band, and went to play in a dance band they had already formed prior to the split named Xenophobia.

9.12.82 Warehouse Liverpool, photo by Jenny Plaits.
     Fortunately, Rubella Ballet reformed in 2000 to play at the European punk festival in Milton Keynes, and decided to stay active, and have been to this day. The new line-up they decided to come back with was Sid on drums, Zillah Minx on vocals, Pete Fender on guitar, Phil from P.A.I.N. on guitar and his girlfriend Paris Ite on bass. Zillah Minx has recently released the first of two movies titled 'She's A Punk Rocker'(this started out as a short University project she did), which talks about women in the punk scene.

Here is a live video of Rubella Ballet back from the early eighties.

The following lyrics will be posted from the 'Ballet Bag' lyric booklet.


"A Dream Of Honey"

"Slant And Slide"


"T"(Emotional Blackmail)

"Krak Trak"

Soon to come Downloads:

(Rubella Ballet have had retrospective C.D's out fairly recently, so only a small portion of their material will be uploaded)
Unreleased demo(possibly their first demo) 19XX
Ballet Bag 1980 Xntrix
Ballet Dance 1982 Xntrix


  1. i look forward to hearing the demo.

    i love your site with all the information pictures! such wonder and color

  2. Looks like the video is from 1984. Gem is still with the band but guitarist Tony (from Lack of Knowledge and later Buzzcocks) is playing too. The band still play and I believe are confrmed for the 2012 Rebellion concerts. A gig with The Mob in 2011 was awesome and brought back so many wonderful memories from the 80s, also Tony was playing with them again. The revolving door for guitarists was very sad for the band who were the finest of their day. Viva Rubella!

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