Quadrophenia; originally an album by The Who and later a film of the same name. It is one of the ‘Rock Opera’s’ The Who have done, along with “Tommy”. For scooterists it has become an icon and for others even a template of scootering.
In the film we follow the goings on of a young Brit named Jimmy. He has a job as a ‘go-for’ in an Ad agency by day and by night hangs out with his scooter friends. Be it at a house party or local soda shop. He is not a very loyal person and is supposed to represent a medical condition akin to schizophrenia having four or quad personalities.
The parents seem to be stuck in the 50’s and want him to be normal. It strikes a nerve with young people as an example of teen angst. However it really doesn’t seem that he has a problem that couldn’t be solved with his quitting drugs. He is forever taking blue pills and being unreasonable afterwards. His group is frequently beat up by the ‘Rockers’ or motorcyclists. Since scooters are so much slower they were targets, which is why Mod’s wore target patches on their backs to make fun of this fact. Also as a “here I am” taunt to the Rockers.
He and the local scooterist takes off for a three day weekend to Brighton Beach. This is based on factual events. There were riots in that seaside town in 1965 and for the filming of this movie the extras were asked to fight each other. Jimmy is also looking to hook up with the pretty scooter groupie. He is arrested in the riots and finds his own badge of honor by being in the paddy wagon with “Ace face” played by Sting. He is the popular scooter boy all the girls swoon over.
After the high of the weekend and the feeling of community within this group, Jimmy becomes very disillusioned. He quits his jobs, spends his money on pills, gets kicked out of his home and goes back to Brighton. When he sees Stings’, character Ace at the hotel doing his job as a bellhop; that is just the last straw. Jimmy steals Ace’s scooter and (spoiler alert) rides it to the cliffs and in the end lets it fly over the seaside cliff and smash into pieces.
Plot holes aside, such as: who has time to have sex in the middle of a riot, and isn’t he overreacting just a bit? This film has set certain things in stone for scooterists. Do we jump up and down chanting “We are the Mods”? Yes it has been known to happen. Not many wore fishtail parkas before this film came out, now you are not hard pressed to find one. The originals are Army surplus and have coyote fur on the trim. If you can’t find one, a bomber jackets in black or green works. They are meant to be reversible but the orange gets dirty easy. Rally patches can be sewn on to either jacket. For an example check out “Good thing” video from Fine Young Cannibals’ it also features rat scooters and someone bump starting their scooter. Some still ride with many mirrors on their scooters. It’s a style choice.
In the States rallies are hosted by local clubs and take visitors on local scenic drives and end in BBQ, beer and raffle. Some of them host dances while others are camping rallies. In the UK the rallies are more of a party after the ride to the camping site. Since these have been going on for years they have been kicked out of towns and hotels that simply won’t have the scooters stay there. Some may look down on scooterists since they have 200cc and lower. Be advised they are no less macho than Harley riders, scooterists brag about engine size and pipes. There is endless debate of the difference between Lambretta and Vespa. Lambretta’s can be tuned more but are temperamental like Jaguars. Vespa’s are hard-working and go on forever, like a VW. Some scooters are modified and go fast, while others are stock.
If you haven’t watched this film and go to a rally you might not get some of the references. If someone crashes and another says “You killed my scooter”, you would be the only one not laughing. Most of the rallies have Northern Soul or Ska music playing. I have never heard anyone playing The Who, but scooterist will ride to see them perform. Suits are worn to the dances, and girls can be skinheads or Mod’s. You can wear nice clothes and with the step through design girls can wear skirts and not get them dirty. This is important for the rallies with dances.
Let's see your Harley put out these kind of lumens!
There is a Mod’s vs Rockers rally, again if you don’t know about the history, you would wonder why we even have this. It does not end in a fight, just a race to get to the campsite first.
There are very few films that feature scooters, so this is the end all be all of scooter films. In the States scooters are seen as toys and not as daily rides like they are in Europe. Since America is just so much bigger, scooterists here will actually trailer their scooters to the rally. While in Europe using your scooter to ride to a camp site and just relaxing all weekend then riding home is the usual. Either way, bring your IPod filled with Hepcat and you will fit right in.
High Rollers Weekend, Las Vegas February 27th through March 3rd.
LA Mods vs Rockers June 6-8th. This is a camping rally.