Rubella Ballet – Xntrix Records – 1982

T / Belfast / A Dream Of Honey / Newz / Slant And Slide

Me / Krax Trax / Blues / Exit

Ballet Dance / Something To Give

Unemployed / Krak Trak

The band was formed towards the end of 1979 by former Fatal Microbes members (without Honey Bane who by this time had a started concentrating on a solo career care of Jimmy Pursey). Pete Fender on guitar, Gem Stone and ‘It’ (Quentin North) both on bass. These ex Microbes were joined  by the drummer Sid Ation who would shortly also be drumming with Flux Of Pink Indians for a short while, and vocalists Annie Anxiety and Womble.

The bands first performance was when they took to the stage for a short set at a Crass and Poison Girls concert at The Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, London.  They had originally been called Rubella Babies for this event. Rubella Ballet soon ended up the preferred name for the band. The original line up of Rubella Ballet  with Annie Anxiety performed just a few times in and around London carrying on with chaotic stage shows, swapping instruments and even letting members of the crowd perform on stage with them.

Annie, Womble and ‘It’ were involved only initially, left and were replaced by vocalist Zillah Minx, who had at that time of the first Rubella Ballets gigs recently started a relationship with Sid.

Pete Fender and Gem Stone are the son and daughter of Poison Girls singer Vi Subversa, so Rubella Ballet used Poison Girls equipment to jam and write songs and also had full use of the recording studio and practice area underneath the house the band and children shared in Leytonstone (along with Sid and Zillah). This is course was a major advantage in any young bands career, not having the need to save up for weeks to get a substandard guitar or  sessions in the studio.

The first ‘proper’ gig with Zilla and Gem in the band was a fundraiser at the Theatre Royal in Stratford supporting the Poison Girls, which ended up in a riot, when West Ham affliated skinheads caused trouble fighting with the police.

Rubella Ballet performed frequently from this point on, many times supporting Poison Girls, Crass and Conflict. Many venues were visited including the Wapping Autonomy Centre and The Centro Iberico in Westbourne Park.

The band were best known for wearing homemade brightly coloured dayglo clothes on stage at these gigs, to differentiate themselves from the other anarcho-punk bands who tended to wear black, ‘army-surplus’ clothing.  The colourful garb is a styling that has carried on throughout the whole of the band’s career.

The band released one album on cassette tape with the addition of Andy Smith on guitar, entitled ‘Ballet Bag’ and following that, a 4 track 7″ EP entitled ‘Ballet Dance’ both in 1982 and both for Poison Girls’ Xntrix Records. The band had rejected the opportunity to put out a record on the Crass label a year or so before due to the packaging being genric Crass style black / grey / white which did not suit the band whatsoever.  Both sessions for the cassette and 7″ single were produced by Richard Famous of the Poison Girls and engineered by Pete Fender in the studio underneath the Poison Girls house in Leytonstone. 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”.

Both these Rubella Ballet releases were eagarly snatched up by a young Penguin in 1982 and I enjoyed the 7″ single so much at the time I went out and bought another one with a different coloured cover from Small Wonder Records in Walthamstow…Oh those crazy care free daze…!

Rubella Ballet recorded two well recieved John Peel sessions for the BBC, the only time they have been payed (correctly and with no drama involved) for a session supposedly. One of these sessions is uploaded onto this KYPP site if you care to search for it using the search function.

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.

Rubella Ballet went through many line up changes over the years and are still performing and releasing CDs to this day. Zillah and Sid are the only members of the band left from those days in 1981, although saying that last time I saw the band in Walthamstow with a reformed Lack Of Knowledge and a reformed Eratics (under the name Peckanpah) just a few years ago they had Pete Fender playing guitar so I dunno…

The two original line up photographs of Rubella Ballet courtesy of the Pete Fender collection

The three personal photographs are from Sid and Zillah’s collection. Thanks to all of those kind people in advance!

KYPP’s very own Tony D’s piece on Rubella Ballet originally printed early on in 1982 in Punk Lives magazine issue 3 is a nicely written article and well worth a read. I have no idea why he calls himself Kilty McGuire, perhaps Tony could enlighten the browsers who may be reading this post?

Bigger text prompts are at the bottom of the scans. Remember when the link dumps you into the photobucket image, leftclick the image once more and the scan will be big enough to read correctly.

Bigger text HERE and HERE

A short video of Sid and Zillah’s permaculture gardenbeing worked on below courtesy of Graham Burnett.

  1. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    March 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Nice one Penguin! The week before last I ran a permaculture intro course at Sid and Zillah’s place in Leyton which was really successful, great spending time working with such positive and creative forces! There might even be a video of the course available soon as it was filmed by a crew making a pilot about urban gardening and permaculture who’ve promised to give me some of the footage, in the meantime enjoy this great little youtube video about the Rubella permaculture garden
    Any way this movie can be embedded into the main article above???

  2. dan i
    dan i
    March 8, 2010 at 9:04 am

    You are not the only one who had to buy both copies of Ballet Dance – I wore my orange one out!

    All of Rubella’s early interviews had the same 3 themes: we are not Crass; Sid was a chef; Poison Girls – lazy journos!!!

    I love the film of their garden – nice to see they are in a house and not that top floor flat that I remember.

  3. DavidM
    March 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Yeah, that’s a nice little film. Came upon I think quite by accident a month or so back. Cool.
    For those who don’t know, Zillah’s first movie doc She’s A Punk Rocker U.K. has hit the streets with copies available via Voiceprint. For more information visit
    … and look out for RB’s second discog. CD Never Mind The Day-Glo which should be released through Overground Recs very soon with copies of Anarchy In The U.V. (and which brings together their ealy output plus two previously unheard tracks Napalm and The Night Russia Died) still available. Fantastic band, and still after all these years, one of my favourites. Disappointed I missed ’em back in the day, but was lucky enough to catch them at The Feeding aftershow party at The Dome, and again with Flux, Subhumans, and The Restarts ’08.

  4. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy
    March 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    @Graham 7/3/10 2.13pm

    Video now embedded.

  5. dan i
    dan i
    March 10, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Oh Penguin – that Brixton Ace poster – i still have that too, great gig! First time I saw The Mob. Very different (and far better) vibe than when Rubella played Brixton Ace with Death Cult a few months later.

  6. Shadowprince
    March 11, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Hi! I am looking for Rubella Ballet’s lyrics: may you tell me if there is a site where I can find them?

    (Sorry for the bad english… ^^)

  7. denzil
    March 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Excellent to watch Sids permaculture garden film thing. I was in a band called Eve of the Scream who played a few gigs with Rubella Ballet. Truly great people I’ll never forget Sid asking for a coddled egg after a gig once at our gaff. Really enjoyed the film and look forward to more instalments. Many thanks indeed.

  8. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    March 12, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Shadowp, all the lyrics for the cassette are in the booklet enclosed in the package. I will private mail you the booklet scans sometime over the weekend so you have those at least.

  9. Shadowprince
    March 13, 2010 at 9:13 am

    @Penguin. Thank you very much! I have to write my e-mail here?

  10. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    March 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I have your email adress in your comment history SP so do not worry.

  11. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy
    March 13, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Kilty McGuire here.

    The reason for not using my own name for that Punk Lives article is because at the time I was writing for six papers under six different names – Sounds, NME, Zig Zag, Punk Lives, Slash and of course Kill Your Pet Puppy.

    Lou McGrew gave me the name Kilty McGuire – and it is still my favourite pseudonym. We first used it in KYPP 5 – see our photobucket home page for more details.

    @denzil, I also love that footage of Sid pottering in his garden. It makes me grin in a good way every time.

  12. Trunt
    March 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Denzil There’s a ‘Eve of the Scream’ 12″ on ebay at the moment. Any chance of getting some tracks put on this excellent site, as I’ve never heard anything by the band. Cheers.

  13. denzil
    March 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Trunt there are some links in the Brigandage Peel Session thread I believe one for the very same record and one for the preceeding demo tape. Eve of the Scream on Ebay fuck me what is that all about….?

  14. denzil
    March 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I see its described as a cross between Antisect & Smart Pills. NICE.

  15. denzil
    March 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Actually it’s Icons of Filth & Smart Pills…doh

  16. Trunt
    March 20, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Thanks Denzil, I’ll take a butchers for your stuff. Bet the 12″ on the bay goes for a bit of money.

  17. denzil
    March 20, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I’ll watch it. Its up for £4.99 lol. I saw a copy of Christ The Album in a collectors shop the other day for £10 !!!!! and to think these records were put out at cost price.

  18. Trunt
    March 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Eve of the Scream, Brilliant how did this band slip through my fingers. To me Denzil, you sounded a bit like ‘getting the fear’ but of course not the vocal, I’ve only had time to listen to the demo though, but can’t see where ‘Icons of Filth’ come into it. Might have to go for the 12″. Did you ever feature in any mags at the time, sure i’ve seen that name somewhere, maybe I’m thinking of 3D Scream.

  19. denzil
    March 21, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Hey Trunt you just made my day. Had a stinker of a day at work yesterday so your post is the don man. We were in Maximum Rock N Roll and MADA for sure but there were other interviews but I cannot recall who or what mag/fanzine they were with. Getting the Fear is a new comparison to me but I am well happy with that mate. The 12 is up for download on the Soundcloud Page if ya want it for free. Many thanks man.

  20. denzil
    March 21, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Although I was in the band most of the memories are lost on me as well.

  21. angela y aldo
    angela y aldo
    December 10, 2010 at 6:43 am

    helllo, hello from peru
    your page is great. !!
    i’ve been looking for info about rubella ballet for some time. could you e-mail me their lyrics please?
    me and my partner, we’re trying to collect some info about anarchopunk and animal rights, but about the early times, since here many punks don’t care about animal liberation and they say punk started without animal rights or anything to do with it.

    thankxxx if you have any info tell us please!

    anarcopunk vegan sin drogas

  22. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    February 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I sent you the whole lyric booklet via email earlier…

  23. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    February 5, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Sorry to hear of the sad passing of Andy Smith who was the guitarist on this cassette and also a membber of Flux Of Pink Indians for a while in 1981. He died in his sleep Friday 4th Febuary after a long battle with cancer. Condolances to his family and friends…

  24. Suzi
    March 9, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Hey Penguin! I’m looking for Rubella Ballet lyrics also. Could you do me a favor and send them to my e-mail? I’m especially in need of Slant & Slide lyrics.

  25. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    March 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Sent you them just now Suzi…

  26. Nick
    May 29, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Great article, I was at the Ace gig, it was a top gig 1919 blew me away, really powerful. Happy memories, many thanx.

  27. Rooksby
    June 4, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Surely somebody SOMEWHERE must have copies of the Rubella Ballet Peel sessions they could upload? The first one was particularly good, but my cassette copy snapped years ago (typically), I’m absolutely gagging to hear ’em both again, they were such a terrific band, & lovely people too.

    FIngers crossed & all that. x

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