Soviet workers’ clubs in the 1920s

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Soviet workers’ clubs in the 1920s
Melnikov Rusakov workers club – 1929

First, we must establish just what was meant by a “club” in the USSR of the twenties, a country in which the word had previously been applied only to private rooms reserved for the use of a group of nobles or wealthy bourgeois. A club was exactly the opposite of what is sometimes implied by a “club” today.

Originally, this new building, the expression of a new social function, was the response to a spontaneous demand, proof that it met a genuine need. Within a few months of the installation of the Soviet regime numerous clubs had been established. They were run by trade-union or political organizations, often by local groups, and set up in former private houses, in converted churches, in sheds, almost anywhere. In fact, the adaptation of these unlikely premises was one of the first tasks to confront the Soviet architects immediately following the revolution.