This is not well-known fact that Stodoła Music Club (worth to mention that „stodoła” in Polish means „barn”) owes its existence to Soviet comrades…
Don’t be surprised! The genesis of our Club reaches the times when the Palace of Culture and Science (PCS) has been under construction.
A long time ago, in far away first part of XX century, builders of the PCS were dining in old wooden canteen where the first cabaret and dance evenings were organized.
Those events gave a start to Stodoła Music Club or if you want me to be exact – Central Club of Warsaw University of Technology Students.
The official opening of the Club is dated on April 5th, 1956 and the first original location was the barrack near Emilii Plater Street.
Since then, Club has moved four times – to Trębacka Street (barrack acting as a supply base for Teatr Wielki reconstruction), Wspólna Street (former clubhouse of Regional State Railway Management), Nowowiejska Street (former Oka Cinema) and finally in 1972 to newly build local at 10 Batorego Street.
Throughout all the years of Stodoła’s activity, all the most important muses found their place here: cabaret, film, theatre, dance, literature, music and photography.
Everything started with cabaret, dance and jazz evenings. Every Thursday, Sunday and Saturnday the sounds of Janusz Zabiegliński jazz band warm up people to dance. First cabaret programme „There is a way in this madness” has its premiere on May 22nd, 1957 directed by Jan Biczycki, with Jerzy Harasiewicz ‘s literary leadership of the performance and actors such as Jan Stanisławski and Henryk Sytner.
Jazz and cabaret for many years constituted as peculiar identifying mark of the Club. Subsequent programs of the "Stodoła" Cabaret conquered the hearts of Warsaw audiences, which with great applause took the roles of Krystyna Chimianienko, Andrzej Krajewski, Kazimierz Pieńkowski, Sława Przybylska or Jan Stanisławki. Furthermore, fifth display of „King Ubu – scandalous fantasy regarding Alfred Jarra’s topics” (1959) achieved stunning success and win many awards, among others annual award of satirical magazine „Pins”.
For many years of its activity, the "Stodola" cabaret was endorsed with such names as: Ewa Bem, Fryderyk Elkan, Marek Gołębiowski, Elżbieta Jodłowska, Krzysztof Knittel, Wojciech Mann, Krzysztof Materna, Czesław Niemen, Andrzej Rosiewicz, Magdalena Umer, Janusz Weiss, Marcin Wolski, Jan Wołek, Andrzej Wojciechowski.
Regarding jazz music, from the very beginning Stodoła was considered as Mecca for Warsaw jazz fans. Worth mentioning that right here, in Stodoła Music Club, first three editions of International Jazz Music Festival „Jazz Jamboree” (in ‘58. ‘59. ‘60). During the period of removal from Emilii Plater Street to Trębacka Street our Club was a home of six jazz bands – Dixieland Makers, Jazz Rockers, New Orleans Stompers, Janusz Zabiegliński’s Swingtet, Warsaw Swingtet and Gwidon Widelski’s Trio.
In January 1964 the Club of Traditional Jazz has been established on the initiative of Jerzy Bojanowski, then president of Stodoła. The members of this club organized „Jazz Fridays”. In the second half of sixties traditional jazz contests such as Złota Tarka and Old Jazz Meeting Festival took place here.
Moreover, worth to mention that back in those days their music rehearsal had here finest jazz bands such as – Big Band Stodoła, Gold Washboard, Hagaw, Old Timers, Storyville Jazz Band or Vistula River Brass Band.
Cabaret activities were a great first step which allowed to move further to the theatre creativity, as result, in 1970 the pantomimic group was established by Marek Gołębiowski.
The first performance entitled "Test" (1972) consisted of six etudes and, as the press wrote, was "a mine of musical and fictional ideas". Further performances „Where are you going?” (1973), „Blind Man report” (1975), „Three times regarding betrayal” and „Pantomime etudes” (1978) has been found as a magnificent piece of art and confirmed the high artistic level of the group.
In addition to that, in 1977 Warsaw Theatre Group has been moved to Stodoła – one of the most important theatre groups in Poland which has been established three years earlier in the Proxima club. This group realised programmes regarding social-politics topics which then and now were found as successful.
The high class of Stodoła theatre and the environment associated with it may be evidenced by the fact that Tadeusz Kantor recognized only Stodola as the place in Warsaw for his performances and lectures.
Next domain of Stodoła culture activities is – or rather was – cinematography. At first the „Stodoła” Film Discussion Club has been established, which, due to a lack of equipment, was operating outside the Club (among others in Iluzjon Cinema), then in 1964 Film Production Club. His activity was largely based on the use of Hybrydy Club equipment. In this way, several documentaries were made, including "Jazz in the Stodola" by Jerzy Rode, "C'est la vie" by Ryszard Grzesiak, "Muranowski Committee" by Marek Wortman; as well as the film adaptation of Maks Frisch's novel "Let's Gantenbein", which received sympathetic opinions from critics.
In 1973 due to the merge of few student’s film organisations the Student Film Centre has been established and located at 10 Batorego Street.
New place has been equipped with professional film production devices. In 1973-1977, the SCF team made several dozen short-feature films. Some of them have been rewarded in nationwide movie festivals: „War with Inuits” (Grand Prix for movie sets in Student’s Movie Festival, Cracow 1972, collective work), „Be right back” by Ewa Młożniak (I Prize in Student’s Movie Festival, Cracow 1974). Another crucial movie position in Stodoła’s history was „Pageant” by Jerzy Karpiński which has been made on occasion of Club’s 20th anniversary and have recorded most important moments of Stodoła’s history.
To be continued….
Sources: „Wokół Stodoły 1956-1981” by Jerzy Karpiński