Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MODtreal 2014 - A Retrospective

I want to let you in on a little secret. I'm a selfish bastard. One of the reasons why I decided to throw myself in the perilous and time consuming adventure of organizing a Mod Weekender was so that I could have one to attend. In North America, they're not a dime a dozen. It was also an excuse to have some cool, like-minded friends of mine, from across the continent, come and pay me a visit in my own town.

The vastness of the American continent makes it so that it's not easy to go and attend every scooter rally or Mod friendly event you want. In Europe, if you so desire, you can be in Italy one weekend, the UK the following weekend and in Germany the next. My point is, for the first year of its existence, MODtreal didn't attract crowds comparable to an Isle Of Wight rally but the people that came were one hell of a dedicated bunch. And for that, I'm immensely grateful and feel extremely fortunate.

Friday August 29

It all started with a little VIP cocktail party at the Parka Avenue HQ. Members from the different bands, DJs and close friends came together for a Happy Hour before the festivities officially started. Some sangria and the tour of the new digs were on the menu. 

Note to self: Don't organize your first Weekender and move into a new place during the same month. My esteemed guests were the first to walk into the new loft devoid of packing boxes.

The stylish lads from RAF
Quitty and friends
A hearty meal at the our local English Pub, the Burgundy Lion, was all we needed for the long night ahead.

The opening dance party at Bar de Courcelle, with an all-Canadian line-up of DJs, had the well dressed attendees sweat up a storm. I was glad that our first three destinations for the night were all within walking distance.

The RAF gang arriving in style!
The place was packed, the dance floor active and the weekend was off to a great start.

DJ Parka Pat on the wheels of steel
No, it's not Daniel Craig calling M. Meet DJ Shado.

Mod Marty manning the decks
DJ Gaz about to hand over the reigns to Napoleon 67
RAF & Napoleon 67 looking smart like only Mods do.

Saturday August 30

While my mate Eric was off with a bunch of scooterists touring the city. I picked up the RAF gang at their hotel to drive them down to my mate Daniel's practice space. A little morning jam got all of us in the mood for the evening's show. Now, as a big fan of the band, I felt like the ultimate groupie. This was probably my favorite moment of the weekend. I got to sit back for an instant, relax and share an intimate moment with some of the classiest, most genuine bunch of musicians I've met in a while.

Yes, Mods can wear shorts too!

But this serene moment wasn't going to last because I had a vintage / record swap to host. While Daniel accompanied the band to their official sound check, I headed over to the Atomic Cafe. DJs and collectors found some bargains in the relaxed atmosphere of this space age inspired local cafe. It was also the perfect meeting place to exchange some of the previous night's gossip.

Vintage posters for sale
Marty setting the mood with Mod music.

After the record swap, I had just enough time to go back to the loft, listen to a few of the day's finds, take a shower, slip into a freshly pressed suit and prepare a few dirty martinis for my overnight guests.

Off to the Divan Orange we were for a great night of dancing with a solid crew of DJs and the long awaited international debut of RAF. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint. They are as tight on stage as any of their recordings.

Dan Melendez hard at work
DJ Karen Hartman - Photo by Jon Negri

Sunday August 31

Day 3 of the Weekender started with an event that was a Red, Hot & Blue and MODtreal collaboration.  A vintage car / motorcycle / scooter show was held at the one and only Jardin Tiki. 

The setting was just perfect. The cars were lined up outside and some live bands and DJs kept us entertained while we  tasted some of the more exotic cocktails the city has to offer.

Last but not least, our band extravaganza at the Atomic Cafe closed the Weekender with a bang. 

First off, local foursome Les Gentlemen not only looked good but they sounded great too! They masterfully played a mix of 60s Beat.

Next up, all the way from Brooklyn NY, Quitty and the Don'ts delivered big time with some 60s inspired garage. If you don't have the privilege to see them live, the next best thing would be to buy their recently released 45rpm. I had to walk around barefoot after their killer set because my socks were knocked off!

To close the first edition, we had Les Envahisseurs. You want to talk about raw energy on stage? Here you have it! They came a long way since I first introduced these French ex-pats to each other. They built up some confidence and it shows. Their cover of Go Go Gorilla at the end of their performance has already become a classic.

DJ Mod Marty and Parka Pat tied all those sets together and managed to keep the party going into the wee hours.

It might have been a year in the making and a lot of work but I would do it all again tomorrow. I want to personally thank each and everyone of you who made this 1st edition of MODtreal an undeniable success. You came from the far reaches of this continent, from as far as California, Oregon, Arizona and Manitoba. To all the DJs that made our feet move non-stop, I'm in your dept. To the bands RAF Mod BandQuitty and the Don'tsLes EnvahisseursLes Gentlemen, YOU ALL ROCK! To the venues Bar de CourcelleDivan OrangeAtomic Cafe, I am grateful beyond belief for you being so welcoming and professional. To my sponsors, We Are The ModsPunks In ParkasOn Target - It's What's In The Grooves That Count, you believed in me from the start and words can't express how proud I am to be associated with you. Thank you to Bianka Tscherne Photography and Red Devil Rocket Art for taking stunning photos. You made us look good! A "thumbs up" to my friend Randy for mentioning us on air on CHOM FM. To have your support means a lot to me.

A special thank you to Daniel Fiocco and my wife Nathalie Malartre, I could not have done it without you. I am happy, grateful and content. To all the patrons, YOU were ALL instrumental in making my little dream become a reality...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Memoirs of an original Mod from the sixties

Meet Mike Anderson. Someone who was there at the birth of it all. He has seen it, lived it and continues to perpetuate the ideals of the Mod way of life. I first got in contact with Mike through his Facebook page The Detroit Locker where he sells quality vintage Mod wear that anybody would be proud to strut around in.

The first piece I got a hold of was this stunning beagle collar Ben Sherman shirt with a pattern that you just won't find on the racks today. The old twisted label is something you don't come across on a regular basis. I knew right away that he had great taste.

Next was this seemingly standard looking 60s tie. The reason why I had to have it was that it's a vintage James Bond 007 article. The James Bond signature on the inside silk liner is the "killer" detail that brings it over the top. Nobody will ever see it but I'm sure it will give me the confidence to face any benevolent evil genius that will cross my path.

When I first approached Mike about sharing his story, he told me: "Many of my own experiences and memories don't match up to the "accepted" history of what Mod was like". That is when I knew I had to convince him to take a seat in my time machine. He graciously accepted.

Mike in 1966
The floor is all yours M. Anderson.

I was born in 1949 so I was at the younger end of the "original" Mods who were two or three years older than me. At school, many of my classmates were fashion conscious and we counted ourselves as "Mods" even though we were too young to ride scooters. Small matters like the width of the trouser hem were important and you'd get your Mum to taper and narrow them according to what the latest fashion would dictate.

We lived in a small market town 30 miles South of London and in rural areas the Rockers always outnumbered the Mods. It was the norm to align yourself to one youth cult or the other, even if you were only a nominal member. When Ringo Starr was asked which he was, he famously answered that he was a Mocker! I recall at school the greasier elements indulged in some internal wrangling about whether the Rolling Stones or the Pretty Things were the grungier group.

The Mods preferred Georgie Fame and American R&B. I began to take an interest in fashion when I was probably about 13 or 14. My first Mod item was a tab collar shirt. I was on holiday with my Aunt Cathie who was a head teacher and very indulgent to my brother and I. Seeing the shirt in a shop window in Yeovil, I only had to say that I liked it and I was taken in by Aunt Cathie to buy it. The shirt was blue with a round giraffe collar. I think it had two tabs and ever since I've had a thing about that style which to me is more Mod than the button down.

Mike and his aunt in Brighton.
Aunt Cathie's Vespa
Later that same holiday I bought a blue cuff link / tie slide set in Weymouth which I still have. Contrary to popular belief, not all Mods were flush with cash and living in a small town. The latest styles were not always available even if you had the money. Sometimes we would "make do and mend". When the Dr. Kildare shirts became popular (as worn by the Dave Clark Five) I had an old white polo neck sweater and I turned the collar inside out, inserted some cardboard in the collar and sewed two buttons on the neck.

A young Mike
My brother Patrick is three years older and had a Vespa Sportique. When the college sweater look was in, Mum cut out a letter "P" and sewed it to a plain tee shirt. At school we used to be sent off on cross country runs and often would go down to a mate's house to listen to Georgie Fame or other Mod favourites on his Dansette. He also lived next to a girls' private school which was another good reason to skive off, not forgetting to splash some mud on our legs before getting back to school.

A stylish Mike in Paris in 1966
I bought my parka from an army surplus store in Redhill in Surrey, went over with my older brother Patrick on the back of his Vespa Sportique. Just a cheap second hand garment then but I expect it would be worth quite a bit now!

Stuart Pope was the first in our School to get a scooter, a Lambretta LD, and was the envy of us all when he rode it up to the school gates and parked it on the road outside. Stuart had customised his ride with a big mudflap behind the rear wheel made from a rubber mat on which he painted "Stu" in white. I left School in '65 to go to Technical College in Crawley, a large "new" town built post war to house London overspill and a definite Mod stronghold.

My first scooter was an Lambretta LD with an electric starter which I'm told is very rare. Best of all was my last one, a Lambretta TV 175 Series 2 which had chrome side panels and had just that little bit more pace than the Li. Mind you I was pleased when I passed my car driving test and didn't have to suffer the cold and rain.

This is my wife Barbara. We started going out when I was a Mod. Another good reason to remember the 60's fondly.


I want to thank Mike for giving us a seat in his time machine. After reading his account, I can understand why he cherishes his memories of this by-gone era. Make sure to check out Mike's Facebook page, The Detroit Locker.