Rubella Ballet playing at the Clarendon Club, London, Christmas Eve 1985
|Years active||1979–1991, 2000–present|
|Associated acts||Fatal Microbes|
|Past members||Gem Stone
The band was formed by former Fatal Microbes Pete Fender (Dan Sansom, guitar), Gem Stone (Gemma Sansom, bass) and It (Quentin North, also bass), with vocalists Annie Anxiety and Womble, and drummer Sid Ation (born Sid Truelove, 18 April 1960, Sutton Coldfield, a former chef, later also the drummer with Flux of Pink Indians). Annie, Womble and It were involved only initially, left and were replaced by vocalist Zillah Minx (born Zillah Elaine Ashworth, 31 March 1961, Birkenhead). Fender and Stone were the son and daughter of Poison Girls singer Vi Subversa. The band used Poison Girls equipment to jam and write songs and their first performance was when they took to the stage at a Crass/Poison Girls concert. They had originally been called Rubella Babies. The band's first proper gig was a fundraiser for the Theatre Royal in Stratford, which ended in a riot, and the band played frequently, often asking audience members to put them up after gigs.
The new line-up were soon known for wearing brightly coloured dayglo clothes on stage, to differentiate themselves from the anarcho-punk bands who tended to wear black, 'army-surplus' style clothing. Pete Fender left at the end of 1982 and soon afterwards joined Omega Tribe as a full-time member, having been their early mentor and record producer.
The band released one album on cassette tape, entitled Ballet Bag (1981) and a 4 track 7" EP, Ballet Dance (1982), both for Poison Girls' XNTRIX Records, after rejecting the opportunity to put out a record on the Crass label. Adrian Thrills, reviewing the single in the NME stated "the Ballet have an appealing sharp edge to their claustrophobic punk thrash, a poppy surge and even a discernable funk readjustment...of course, they could always just be taking the piss". After releasing the 42f single on Jungle Records (with Sean replacing Fender) the band started their own Ubiquitous label. Rubella Ballet toured extensively with Poison Girls and Crass, and recorded two John Peel sessions for BBC Radio. In 1984 they embarked on an ill-fated tour of Italy to promote 42F. The band had only been given single airline tickets and after a week of playing without getting paid, they returned to England by train.
The band's line-up underwent several changes before their next release, "Money Talks" (1985); Sean and Gem had left, to be replaced by Adam and Rachel Minx (Zillah's younger sister Rachel Irene Jane Ashworth), and Adam himself has replaced by Steve Cachman prior to the recording of the debut album At Last, It's Playtime, the same year, an album that has been described as "chugging mid-paced stuff, many of the tracks dominated by Zillah's steamroller-flat vox". The line-up stabilized over the next few years, the band recording a second album, If... in 1986. A compilation and a double live album followed, but it would be 1990 before the next studio album, At the End of the Rainbow. The band split up shortly after its release, Sid already playing in the dance band Xenophobia.
In 2000, the band reformed for a performance at the European Gathering festival in Milton Keynes, and have continued on and off since, with the core members Sid and Zillah joined by a varying line-up including original guitarist Fender. A retrospective covering the first half of the band's career, Anarchy in the U.V., including Ballet Bag, Ballet Dance, At Last It's Play Time, the 12-inch version of "Money Talks", and two previously unreleased tracks, was released in December 2008. A second volume was released in 2010, containing the remaining tracks from the band's back-catalogue.
- Ballet Dance EP (1982), XNTRIX (#6)
- "42f" (1984), Jungle, JUNG12 (12") - (#10)
- "Money Talks" (1985), Ubiquitous, DayGlo1
- "Arctic Flowers" (1986), Ubiquitous, DayGlo3 (12")
- Ballet Bag (1981), XNTRIX (cassette only, with booklet and badge)
- At Last Its Playtime (1985), Ubiquitous, DayGlo2
- IF (1986), Ubiquitous, DayGlo 4
- At The End Of The Rainbow (1990), Brave/One Little Indian BND2LP
Compilations, live albums, remixes
- Cocktail Mix (1987), Ubiquitous, DayGlo5 (Ballet Bag + Ballet Dance)
- The Ballet's Birthday Box (double LP) (1988), Ubiquitous, DayGlo6 - (two lps with badge, poster, cut-out doll, sticker & booklet)
- Greatest Trips (1990), Brave/One Little Indian BND3CD
- Death Rock Daze (2007), UVP Productions UVP001 (Limited Edition) Rubella Ballet's tracks mixed by Sidation
- Anarchy in the U.V. (2008), Overground/Voiceprint
- Nevermind the Day-Glo. (2010), Overground
- Freak Box (1984), Ubiquitous - Live concert, 60 min, VHS.
- Glasper, Ian (2006) The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980 - 1984, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 978-1-901447-70-5, p. 58-65
- Holland, Roger (1985) Rubella Ballet review, Sounds, August 1985, "This dayglo fashion bit is not at all the sort of thing a fellow wants to encounter on an empty stomach. Rubella Ballet look awful!"
- Gimarc, George (2005) Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock 1970-1982, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-848-6, p. 651
- Rubella Ballet at the BBC's Keeping it Peel site
- Strong, Martin C. (2003) "Rubella Ballet", in The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0
- "Rubella Ballet: Anarchy In The UV", Selby Times, December 13, 2008
- Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.