Annual Rockers vs. Mods rally proves real competition has style and substance
In The Who’s cinematic adaptation of their album Quadrophenia, warring factions of Rockers and Mods take their brutal rivalry to the shores of England’s Brighton Beach. The film may end in riots and tears, but the ongoing Texas festival honoring this legendary mid-1960s conflict is more of an excuse to bring two varying — albeit complementary — subcultures together for three days of fun in the sun.
Started seven years ago by organizers Mark Roberts and David Marett, the event has grown from a few hundred enthusiasts to roughly 4,000 annual participants. An offshoot of similar events in San Diego and Chicago, the Dallas chapter of Rockers vs. Mods drew attendees from as far away as New Zealand to socialize, listen to bands, and show off their painstakingly restored vintage scooters and bikes.
“The whole thing is based off of the clashes the British had in Brighton Beach, but we revived it with a modern twist,” Marett said. “We josh at each other, but there’s no fisticuffs — everyone gets together and celebrates the culture.”
Although Rockers outnumber Mods three to one in Dallas-Fort Worth, scooters such as local performance artist Cigi CowGoddess’ Swarovski-bedazzled bovine ride (24,875 crystals and counting) are more eye-catching, if not quite as impactful, as the classic cafe cycles that are currently making a stateside resurgence.
Michael J. Baker, owner of the only local dealer of India-made Royal Enfield Cycles, says hand-detailed bikes are finally getting their moment in the spotlight. “There’s a realness to it,” he explained. “The bikes are an extension of your personality, and everyone gets together to show them off.”
The long weekend of events included performances from ska and rockabilly bands, raffles, and rides tailored to both the Mods and the Rockers. Everyone came together at Saturday afternoon’s event at Lee Harvey’s, where photographer James Bland shot attendees for a future show at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House.
Aspiring riders on both sides of the event found inclusion is as easy as devoting oneself to the restoration of a classic bike or scoot. Explained co-organizer Mark Roberts, “The older guys are just happy to have young blood come in. At some point, somebody’s going to own their old bike, and they want to encourage new enthusiasts.”