Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Mod On The Road: The Las Vegas Edition

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, the saying goes. Not this time! Parka Avenue is about to dish out the dirt on all that happened at the 15th edition of the High Rollers Weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. No secret is safe here my friends! No names will be altered to protect the innocent. You won't see any black stripes over anybody's eyes on these photos! Warning: This post might not be suitable for a younger audience.

Some of the good folks from the Boston Stranglers Scooter Club have had a hand in organizing these shindigs since 2005. Las Vegas' Heat Seized Scooter Club also merit many accolades for organizing the rides for many years now. This should really be seen as a National Rally because of all the clubs/groups that are actively involved.  I can now understand why my friend Eric B. and hotel roommate for the weekend, has attended 10 of the 15 editions of one of the premier scooter rallies in North America. My scooter might not have fitted in my suitcase but there was at least enough space to fill it with suits, shoes and a few boxes of 45s.

I was very glad to have been part of a great line-up of DJs all throughout the weekend. Eric P., the head huncho for the event, had suggested that we play something different then the usual mix of Soul, Ska and Rocksteady for the outdoors events. Our mission for the afternoon gigs was to be “entertaining”. As for the evening festivities, our assignment was clear: make people dance. I can do that!

Spinning under the warm desert sun was fun for a change. Plus I shared the duties with some great Californian DJs like non other then The Selecter DJ Kirk, Celeste and Jesse. 

DJ Kirk and Parka Pat spinning some tunes on Sunday at the Art Factory Bar.
So in order to fulfill my objective to “entertain”, I decided to offer the scooter enthusiasts in attendance something different. I gave them a good dose of French Soul covers, yé-yé and freakbeat “en français”. I was pleasantly surprised to how well the selection was received. I always get a kick when I play an obscure version of a Motown song performed by artists with a Quebec accent. I love it when people recognize the track and then come up to me with the strangest look on their face and ask me: “Who the hell is this?” You can have a listen to this brand new Parka Avenue Podcast with some of the best tracks from the afternoon sessions right here on Mixcloud.

How cool is this set-up?

Even if I didn't get the primo DJ spots during the evening events, I'm still grateful to have had the privilege to spin. The Saturday night event was held in our hotel's main shoowroom. The Plaza is situated in downtown Las Vegas and has all the charm of the “old Vegas”.

It is said, although I wasn't able to confirm it, that the Rat Pack once played the Copa room. If they didn't, it sure looks like they could have! Red velvet drapes cover the walls, large crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and tiered levels of half-moon sofas surround the dance floor. This place would definitely fall under the category of "old school". What a welcomed sight to see a dance floor packed with men in sharp suits and women in their best 60s attire. It's certainly not what I see on a weekly basis at my local Mod Club.

No one is doing the Harlem Shake here!
My mates Eric, Elker and I were ready before the doors even opened, mainly because I was the first DJ behind the decks, so we decided to sit at the penny slots hoping to scam a few free cocktails from the casino. We figured that if we sat there long enough and only spent a dollar or two in the machines, the waitress would eventually come and offer us a complimentary drink. The sad story is that we never even saw the shadow of a waitress. The good news is that I managed to double my initial investment and walk away with a huge jackpot of 10$!

Ocean's Three
Some talented local lads, The Astaires, started us off with an energetic Power Pop infused set. They were followed by Boston's All Mod Cons. Can you guess what band they brilliantly covered? The singer even introduced the songs in a perfect Weller voice. I could have easily lost that 10$ I had just won by betting that this guy was from Woking, England.
The Sunday night "Soul Survivors" event at Triple B on Freemont ended up being my most enjoyable DJ set of the weekend. But it didn't start off that way! The new bar is situated at the opposite end of Freemont street and a 10 minute walk from the Plaza, through hordes of sandal wearing drunk college students on Spring Break and retired tacky t-shirt sporting tourists, will get you there.

Record boxes in tow, we crossed paths with a few rally goers that warned us of how terrible the music was and that the band made them nauseous. Sounds promising... And I was due to go up in a little over half an hour!

As soon as we walked in, we were greated by an eardrum shatering Heavy Metal band! A bunch of acquaintances, clearly overdressed for the situation, were sitting against the wall with a look of utter despair on their faces. I'm not making this up! It is NOT the start of a bad joke: "This Mod walks into a bar full of Rockers expecting to play some Soul records and..."
Just in case any of you thought that I was actually going to make up this story, I decided to immortalize it on film. I present to you Exhibit A. I also happened to memorialize the longest song of the show. The one where they all do their respective solos and each member is presented. If you don't want to torture yourself too much, you can skip directly to the 4:00 minute mark for the drum solo.

How was I going to follow that? It was time to regroup, summun the Mod Superpowers at our disposal and hit those turtables hard.

Mod Power Activate!
Well, contrary to popular wisdom, as soon as I jumped behind the turtables, the dancefloor instantly filled up and the party was on! And who was the most energetic dancers out there? The Heavy Metal band that is!

I don't remember having this much fun spinning in a long time. The sound was good, the people were carefree and enjoying themselves. The best part about this bar is that right behind the DJ booth, hidden in that wall of records is a secret trap door that gives you access to a large VIP lounge equiped with your own private bathroom, pool table and cosy sofas.

Guillermo whipping the crowd into a frenzy with some driving tunes.
A peak into the secret lair.
I have access to the VIP lounge! Guillermo taking over the turntables.

For the best of the weekend's evening selections, check out part 2 of the Parka Avenue in Vegas podcast. You can listen to it here.

Next post is all about is about the scooters! Don't miss it!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like one heck of a weekend. Looking forward to part two.