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 drummer Sid Ation (born John Carroll, 18 April 1960, Sutton Coldfield, a former chef and later also the drummer with Flux of Pink Indians), together with 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. Their first gig was at the Triad Leisure Centre in Bishops Stortford on 5 August 1979, where they crashed the bar to play at a Crass/Poison Girls/Epileptics gig that was happening in the main hall. Several other gigs followed throughout the summer of 1979, until Annie, Womble and It left, to be replaced by vocalist Zillah Minx (born Zillah Elaine Ashworth, 31 March 1961, Birkenhead) towards the end of the year.
Zillah's first performance was when they took to the stage at the end of a Crass/Poison Girls concert at Conway Hall, Holborn. The new band's first proper gig was a fundraiser for the Theatre Royal in Stratford on 28th October 1979 supporting Poison Girls, which ended in a riot due to an invasion mid-way through Poison Girls' set by the local contingent of the British Movement, during which several members of Poison Girls were injured. Rubella Ballet had agreed to be interviewed by Mike Diboll for Toxic Grafity fanzine after their performance and thus escaped the attack, although the stage had already been partially invaded during their set. Following this the band played frequently around the UK, often asking audience members to put them up after gigs.
Pete Fender left early in 1980 to pursue a solo project, the Four Formulas EP, produced by Richard Famous for XNTRIX Records. He was replaced by former Flux of Pink Indians guitarist Andy Smith, and synth player Eugene. 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, and it was this line-up which featured on the Ballet Bag cassette album at the end of 1981.
Pete Fender rejoined the band at the beginning of 1982 to record and promote the Ballet Dance EP and the first of two John Peel sessions for the BBC, leaving at the beginning of the following year to join 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 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 in 1984 (with Sean Mowle on guitar) 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, on occasion, original guitarist Pete 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
- Planet Punk (2014)
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)
- Anarchy in the U.V. (2008), Overground
- Nevermind the Day-Glo. (2010), Overground
- Ballet Bag plus 2 x John Peel Sessions (2017), Dark Entries
- Freak Box (1984), Ubiquitous - Live concert, 60 min, VHS.