Sexy Sixties – The ‘Dolce Vita’ Effect

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Sexy Sixties

Sexy Sixties – Part 4, Chapter 1C – The ‘Dolce Vita’ Effect

Yes, that film. That actor cat. What’s his name? Marcello Mastroianni. Hmm. A bit ruthless, in the film. A bad-guy character, indeed. But – God – he’s smart as hell. Went to the movies three months ago and woke up the morning after with a strange feeling. A feeling that I had to dress, walk, behave and act like Mr. Mastroianni. Sure enough, he’s got that somewhat I was always looking for.

1960. “La Dolce Vita”, the new film of Federico Fellini, divides critics and public from day one, but is about to become both a classic and one of the most influential films ever. The film is formed by various episodes, all connected with the late 50s high-life in Rome.

Marcello Rubini is a journalist, writing gossip features but dreaming his immediate future as a proper writer. Life in the mid-late 50s Rome is made of chances and he’s always there to get them. He’s got to aim high, so he embarks in all those adventures that can shorten the distance between himself and his career. Hiring his photographer friend Paparazzo, to take pics of this blooming jet set, no place in and around Rome is too far for his ambitions.

Despite the producer De Laurentiis’ scepticism – he and Fellini argued about the choice of the main actor – La Dolce Vita earned a lot of money in the first two weeks of screening in Italian cinemas, and the sharp characters Marcello and Paparazzo (the latter eventually becoming a common name for any kind of gossip ruthless photographer) set the ethos and the aesthetics of a brand new young and modern man-about-town.

So, here we go. Marcello. Trying one of them well-tailored Italian suits. I have three of ‘em. Got the first one from a Soho spot, that man in his forties, how’s he called? Mario, I think. I popped there one day and told him “I’d like to look like Mastroianni. Can you make a good suit for me? I mean, the works”. And he went, with his very typical Southern Italy accent: “eh, I do wottya like, young man, but you gotta wait a week, so fulla bizinéss to do, diz days…”

And then, the following week I went there again for fittings. He took him sort of one month, which is not that quick, but – oh boy! What a result. I know my name ain’t Marcello, nor I am a fashionable Italian actor, but this is exactly the way I want to look like.

Can you imagine? Very few films have been so influential to early 60s Mod culture as La Dolce Vita. The very expression “Dolce Vita” became synonymous with “high life” and “jet set” , and eventually went to represent a new style for wool jumpers in Italy – dolcevita = turtleneck.

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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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November 22, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Europe Fashion Film Front Page Inspiration Media Scene Style Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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Sexy Sixties -Those hedonistic Modernists (1959-1961)

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Sexy Sixties

Sexy Sixties – Chapter 1 Part B 

Those hedonistic Modernists (1959-1961)

The suit is a blue pinstripe model, made by that Italian tailor cat somewhere just behind Charing Cross Road. It looks good. Well, it looks damn right. It has three front pockets, plus one for the hanky, two eight inch side vents and it’s cut like a piece of art. It’s just perfect. Jean Paul Belmondo and Marcello Mastroianni couldn’t have desired anything better than that.

The owner of that suit – and many others – is a seventeen years old boy from Stepney Green. He works, of course, and his job is all about metal sheets to be folded and shaped. Not that it can be called “the best job in the world”, but it’s enough money to make him afford some very good clothes and fuel for his Lambretta Li 150. And some pills, too. “’Cause life’s gotta be brilliant. You have to be brilliant, mate”, he usually answers when someone asks him questions.

Meanwhile, he also invests his wages into the latest jazz imports from the US, exploring all those many microscopic Soho music shops. He spends a lot of his spare time looking at his image in the mirror, and – hey!, he likes a lot what he sees. He meets somewhere in the West End with a few other cats very much into the same music and lifestyle, but he doesn’t consider himself as part of a group. In fact, he’s an individual. He’s a Modernist.

Music and cinema started it all, in the 50s or maybe earlier. American GIs living in UK wanted jazz musicians to play for them. A bunch of sixteen years old boys, bored to death with the too understated, post war-ish national imagery, found themselves tasting a bit of that ‘modern jazz’ thing being imported. And they liked it. In the same time, French and Italian films added new ingredients to the cinema as a form of art, making British films look plain and unexciting, to say the least.

If we add to these two fundamental things a third, no less important one, the mass motorization, with the introduction of brilliantly designed Italian scooters, you should have a complete frame about our boy with the pinstripe suit, or about his attitude and lifestyle. “Being brilliant” as the opposite of “being plain”, “being dull”, “being a post-war number dressed in a boxy, badly cut jacket”. Or, in one word, “being square”.

All of a sudden these hedonistic teenagers didn’t want to be the average English boys anymore, they wanted to be American, French or Italian. And for the first time ever, they had enough money in their pockets to look smart, to buy imported records and to drive a very good looking scooter – a wheeled piece of the most desirable Italian design.

And the boy with the pinstripe suit irons the crease of his trousers to a sharp, razor-like finishing. A light-blue, tab collar shirt is waiting on a hanger, as the ice-white mac, ready to be worn.

“Just stick a good John Coltrane or Wayne Shorter on the record player, before I go. That will give me a kick”. It’s nine o’clock pm, and the night is there, just behind your flat’s door.

The night is yours and it’s full of new sensations.The gathering of a new kind of knights – the Modernists – will take place at the club, all night long.

You only need to read a book, to learn what’s the story. And this book can only be Colin McInnes’ “Absolute Beginners”. It’s all there.

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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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August 8, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Europe Fashion Film Front Page Inspiration Media Scene Style Tags:, , ,
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The Age of Charm & Restlessness (Sexy Sixties: 1959-1961)

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Sexy Sixties

Sexy Sixties – Chapter 1 Part A

The Age of Charm and Restlessness (1959-1961) Girls of the ‘Nouvelle Vague’

The young man leaves the cinema with an expression of deep satisfaction printed on his face. The film he watched had very little to do with anything he had ever watched before. It was a French movie and it had that continental charm that wasn’t very common in British films. And that girl, the actress Jean Seberg… the girl with the very short hair. What a girl! And how cool she was!

He is aware that there’s gonna be something new in the very way he’ll perceive these new films. Because they ‘are’ new, aren’t they?

These French films talk about the present, about real problems, tormented and contemporary love stories. They’re not just ‘movies’. They are the changing.

Walking under the thick rain of a greyish London, the young man knows that things will never be the same again. He thinks he’s falling in love with Jean Seberg. Or maybe with some other actress he’d watched in some other French film? Was she Jeanne Moreau? Brigitte Bardot? Bernadette Lafont? Anna Karina? God! They all look so modern, so different… Their world is made of groundbreaking frames, striking whites and deep, very deep blacks.

They don’t just ‘play’ the part. They are the part, they mean, resume, represent, symbolise the part. They produce real emotions and create from nothing a brand new way of being sexy. Hands up who wouldn’t date Jean Seberg, the young man thinks, his post-War shoes completely soaked with water, sinking in a landscape made of brown puddles.

And who are these new directors? Truffaut, Malle, Godard, Chabrol… Their names sound rather exotic. Where are they from? Are they all French? And – above all – why are their films all so incredibly sharp?

The young man is going home. Probably he’d find his mum screaming at his dad: “where ‘ave ya been? You’ve ‘ad a couple, you did. Didn’t ya?” and probably his dad would answer “Well, leave me alone now, I’m dead tired!”.

Yeah, probably.

But one thing is for sure: he’s not going to have something like that planned for his life. He doesn’t want that. He wants Jean Seberg.

The young man is continuing to walk, his home now behind his shoulders. He can’t see what his mum and dad are saying. Are they arguing or something? His girlfriend’s house is a few yards away, a two-storey Victorian semi-detached. He thinks he’s going there.

Knock knock.

His girlfriend opens the door. She’s nothing special really. And she does look a bit too old fashioned, with those curly things coming down off her head. “Too bloody Shirley Templish!”, the young man thinks.

“Hi”, he says.

“Hi” she says.

“Know what?”, he says, “Get a new haircut, girl, time for a change!”.

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Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue", "Misty Lane" and “EyePlug”). During the years he realized loads of illustrations, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European clubs and bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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May 22, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Europe Fashion Film Front Page Inspiration Scene Style Tags:, , ,
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The dual-dancefloor dilemma

Over the last decade weekenders that have been my favourites for a long time have suffered from the decreasing number of Mods attending these events for diverse reasons and there has been one remarkable reaction to this problem: Make it bigger – to make more people interested in the scene and possibly join it. Sounds nice, but does it work? Possibly in Spain, obviously in the UK. It doesn’t seem to work in Central Europe, though. It seems like most people over here prefer to enjoy whatever comes there way without wanting to commit themselves for a longer period, as commitment to them – so my guess – means limitation.

Now, as Modernism is very much about commitment it’s clear that we can’t count on those people to bring new life to our scene. They’ll be there for some time, maybe even dress up a bit, but sooner or later they’ll go another way, find their kicks somewhere else. What has the Mod scene to give them after some easy thrills of a tourist being in a new holiday resort for the very first time? Tourists know they’ll leave home after a fortnight or so, they’re not supposed to live in the resort for a few years or longer, so they try to have a hell of a good time and then they’re gone. And the next year they’ll spend their holidays somewhere else, of course. Why go to the same old resort again? You’ve been there anyway!

Yes, some people may stay on the scene, just like some tourists may decide to visit the same old resort year after year again. And yes, this is a valid argument when it comes to the question whether a mod event’s door policy should be rather strict or rather liberal. There’s always a chance that some people might feel so much attracted that they’ll at last commit themselves. And yes, this is why I would never denounce the idea of those really big events open for any kind of person interested in it. After all, we’d organised Beat-O-Mania back in the 9Ts, which was very much about this idea. Besides, once you’ve reached a certain number of guests it really does make sense to offer bigger venues and even different rooms, to sort of give back some kind of an intimate atmosphere you wouldn’t be able to experience in a big hall for 1,000 – 2,000 people.

There are quite some more reasons in favour of bigger events, at least from an organiser’s point of view: when you never try something new you might risk missing the party/all-nighter/weekender of your lives, and of course, all the big events started some time and were possibly not that successful at first, but as the organisers persevered the events became established and successful. Still, when you want to start a new weekender, it should offer something unique, e.g. more bands from far-away places, a compelling DJ line-up, a boat-cruise, a swimming-pool party, a headliner everyone’s always wanted to see.

Yet, thinking of the “standard” Mod-weekender, hardly anyone from abroad will bother to even consider coming, and even most people in your own country might let you down for the sake of their local party incidentally taking place at exactly that same weekend. Frankly speaking: why should you travel to a minor event knowing quite well that you can listen to the same music in your hometown every weekend in one or another club? Why should you travel there in times like these, when more and more people barely make ends meet?

So is there another solution to the problem, apart from making your do big?

There seems to be one: specialisation.

Separate the dancefloors. Set up a black dancefloor for anything from Jazz and R&B, via Soul to Ska and hope to attract many more people who like that sort of music, but hate anything that sounds white. And set up a strictly white dancefloor embracing Beat, Freakbeat, Psych, Prog and Funk-Rock (I’m still waiting for a Mod DJ to play early Mother’s Finest) for all those who really hate all of  that “lousy disco music”.

But what about those stupid old sods, I mean “Mods”, like me? Do I have to hop from room to room, always running the risk of missing the new killer number that’s being played in the other room right now? I always thought Mod is about picking out the truffles from a vast pool of yet undiscovered, unknown gems from the sixties, no matter if it’s black or white.  Isn’t Mod about expanding one’s horizon, not about narrowing it? Unfortunately, over the last few years I’ve had the funny feeling that more and more people voluntarily are in danger of limiting their scope.

Of course, predilections change, it’s inevitable, but why narrow down the choice so much? As for me, I love all those styles of Mod music, and I enjoy myself best when there’s variation on the dancefloor. A bit of this, a bit of that, and when I don’t feel in the mood to listen to or dance to this or that DJ, hey – time to go to the bar and have a nice drink and a chat.

But I’m really worried today that when you separate the dancefloors you start to separate the scene. This reminds me of HG Wells’ “Time Machine” – when you separate a group of people who’d lived in the same habitat for ages they will end up being complete aliens to each other – it’s just a matter of time.

And apart from that – what’s the lesson we teach those who attend a Mod do for the first time? What we show them is the following: there is not one scene, there are two scenes and each group doesn’t appreciate the other one very much. And you have to decide which side you are on.

I’m in constant anxiety these days that this might bright about the end of everything I’ve always found essential and worthwhile about the scene. To me this scene has never been narrow-minded and intolerant, quite the opposite. But by separating the scene at an event where the people should be “in one”, together, not separated, don’t we run the risk of generating more stereotyped thinking and breeding more narrow-mindedness?

Please understand that I’m just trying to throw in my five cents here, I do not intend to point my fingers at anyone on a moral level, I’m not trying to judge others. In fact I very, very much do appreciate all the hard work and the efforts made by all those folks around the globe trying to keep the scene alive by organising parties, clubs, all-nighters and weekenders, no matter how many different dancefloors they opt for. In the end a good party is a good party is a good party.

So this is just a (slightly provocative) attempt to start a discussion without wanting to generate bad feelings in anyone on the scene. I think our scene is grown-up enough to sensibly discuss controversial issues these days.

By the way: I’ll be attending Beat Bespoke 8 this year, and wouldn’t you know? I’d love to see the Poets AND Maxine Brown/The Pepperpots. Alas, they seem to play at the same time in different rooms.

So if you feel a breeze or a draught while you are in the one or the other room at Easter, or if you see a blurred shape for a split-second, who knows ….  that might be me trying to achieve the impossible: being in two rooms at the same time! Now that’s what I call a dual-dancefloor dilemma!

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Harry Vogel

I wish to apologize for my sloppiness and inaccuracy and would like to state that I have never been, am not and will never be the first, best, coolest or whatever-est Mod on this planet and do not intend to be or even arouse this impression. Those who know me do know that I couldn't care less about these things. Yes, there was a time when I was not a Mod and so of course you couldn't have met me at the *** (any place) *** (any year) do, but at least I still do attend a fair number every year. However, I've been on the scene for quite some time, have played in some not completely unknown bands such as Swinging London and The Heartbeats (both definitely NOT the first Mod Bands around), have written for and edited fanzines ever since 1984 (but I must admit that as far as I know the first Munich Modzine was edited by a guy named Joey Vogl), co-organized some weekenders, and had some occasional DJ spots (which I've given up in the meantime as from my point of view record prices have reached an absurd level and because I know darn well that there were, are and will be loads of better DJs on the scene). Did I do these things because I was desperately trying to get my fifteen minutes? You bet! When I was much younger I thought that sooner or later I'd have to leave the scene because I'd be too old, but as the years passed I realised (like so many of you) that I just couldn't live without my annual share of Modernism. Talking about music: I love all styles of Mod Music as I believe life is too short to voluntarily narrow my horizon. To quote producer Joe Meek: "If it sounds right, it is right"!

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March 9, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Front Page Music Tags:, ,
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High Times: Hamburg – Part 2

High Times: Hamburg – Part 2 ‘Journey into the 70’s’

Continued from ‘The Star Club and the Swing Kids’ (

… Anyway by the early 1960’s it wasn’t all about the Star-Club, of course. The Hamburg scene revolved around the Kaiserkeller, Indra and Top Ten way before the Star-Club opened its doors. Then came the Beer-Shop, Mambo, Holle, Wagabond and the Pacific Hotel, as well as the less popular clubs like Grannies, the Ice Cream Shop, Chugs, and Sacha’s. The Beatles also played at the Kaiserkeller and Top Ten Club. 60’s legends, the Monks, a band of G.I.s who were originally stationed near Frankfurt, were the ‘house band’ at the Top Ten Club all through 1965 and ‘66 and recorded a complete album plus three 45s before disbanding in the late 60’s and going back to the States. They were quite successful in the north of Germany but the south would have liked to hang them up on their nooses that were used as neckties in their black monk uniforms. But also in Hamburg they sure weren’t everybody’s darling. Tony Sheridan hated the Monks and never got tired of telling everyone the Monks were completely free of any talent. Luckily that didn’t stop them from gaining cult status. Sadly the band never became successful during their existence and were forced to play other songs by their record company, Polydor. The album was a total flop, the 45s sold poorly too and the band were made to play much more mainstream songs by their record company Polydor.

Of course there were plenty of local groups to be heard as well. The Rattles were probably the best known group from Hamburg at that time and there was constant rivalry between them and Berlin’s the Lords. The Rattles had a charismatic front man in Achim Reichel – a blonde guy that on stage looked like momma’s darling gone wild on amphetamines. After he left the band to serve in the army the Rattles lost their popularity and never really recovered. They continued to play and record songs but only had one last hit with ‘the Witch’ that was also covered by bands from the UK and USA. Achim Reichel and other members of the group had numerous side and solo projects like Wonderland, Herbet & Birgit or A.R. & Machines and drifted more and more into psychedelia and progressive rock.

Other great groups from the Hamburg area were the Blizzards who came from a small place called Stade just across the river Elbe. They formed in 1961 and during their career recorded some of the best Beat songs to come out of Germany. Their version of the Het cover “Hab keine Lust heut aufzustehn” is a classic and they also recorded great versions of Yardbirds songs in german along with brilliant self-penned tracks. Then there were the German Bonds who released the german mod anthem “We Are Out of Sight!” or the Bats of “Got a Girl” fame. The sheer number of bands that emerged around Hamburg in the 60s is well worth their own article that might follow in the future.

The year 1967 saw Hamburg’s first ‘official’ love-in with hippies handing out flowers to everyone in the middle of St. Pauli. By that time flower power had taken over quietly just like in London or New York and San Francisco. The Ones recorded their legendary psychedelic single “Lady Greengrass” for the Star-Club label and the Monks released their last piece of evidence on Polydor. John’s Children with Marc Bolan played at the Star Club on a stage that was decorated to its maximum with flowers of every kind. It was their self declared ‘Love & Peace’ gig that ended in a fist fight between some band members.

Jimi Hendrix played in Hamburg in 1968 and after his gig, everything changed. The Beat Boom was over. Psychedelia, Heavy and Progressive Rock were the new sounds of the day. People got tired of ‘old’ Rock’n’Roll like Elvis or Little Richard. Now the Stones, Beatles, Cream and Hendrix were ‘where it’s at’. Also the drugs changed from Coca Cola and sometimes Schnapps to pills, pot and acid. As Kuno Dreysse of the Star-Club band the Rivetts once said in an interview, “It all changed when the VIP’s arrived. Their Sound was different to all the others – more heavy and black. The singer Mike Harrison sounded more grounded than Ray Charles. But also their lifestyle was another. When you came to their room in the Pacific, there was always a big glass for candy in the shelf that was filled with Mandrax, Preludine, Purple Hearts, Romela, Cappies and so on. They took it to function during the daytime but also ‘tripped’ alot. They were the first to put me in contact with Pot or Acid.”

The trends were the same almost all over the globe and the music changed with it. The music became more ‘mind oriented’ and less dance friendly. People used to smoke joints during the concerts and sit down to relax and enjoy the music. Also the sales of drinks in the clubs were going down because everyone was already high or turned on some way or the other and when people got thirsty they simply drank water from the washing basins in the rest rooms. On the other hand the cost to have a band playing was going up more and more. The equipment got bigger, heavier and took more and more space. As a result the club owners had to calculate higher prices for the shows and therefore less people were coming.

So, one day our hero Klaus found himself in front of his favourite ‘Beatschuppen’ just to discover that his Club would have to close its doors forever on new year’s eve 1969/70. He took a long deep breath, fished a cigarette out of his pocket and let a few memories of the last years stream by. Then he walked up the Grosse Freiheit to the corner of Simon-Von-Utrecht Straße and went inside the building Grosse Freiheit 58. The Gruenspan had opened here in 68 and immedeately turned into the new ‘Hot Spot’. The outside of the house was decorated with great Pop-Art paintings by Hamburg based artists  Dieter Glasmacher and Werner Nöfer. Inside it was hippie heaven – brilliant sound system, Go-Go Girls in cages hung from the ceiling, a state of the art lightshow with effects, oil slides and stroboscope and everything else a psychedelic space ship needs for a life long trip through inner space and into the 1970s!

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Ben Jones

Born and raised in ‘Star Club City’ Hamburg, Germany in 1977. Got turned on to the sixties through listening to daddys Jefferson Airplane records. Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Dedicated record collector and DJ since the age of 15. Founder and resident DJ at the Hip Cat Club, Hamburgs prime 60s/Mod club night which is now in it's sixth year.

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March 9, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Europe Front Page Scene Tags:, , , ,
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Vespa Licence Story

‘Something has hit me, I’m outta my mind…’ To paraphrase Reggie King.  I was definitely out of my mind in retrospect. A worrying account of how things can change.

All was going well on that sunny June morning. Riding from South East London into the West End for work on the burgundy 1964 Vespa with the PX 150 engine that had been my pride and joy for a year or so at that point. Two up with the lady in pillion, us both sporting our open face helmets and period goggles.The middle of summer with the sun shining. It was a lovely ride indeed.  Embankment along the river, then up to Trafalgar Square. Smiles on our faces and not a care in the world. It wasn’t until we turned into The Mall in the direction of the Palace that the heart stopping moment occurred. Out of nowhere, a rozzer stepped into our trajectory and waved me vigorously into the layby area used once for the carriages of her majesty. This did not look good. The conversation went something like this:

Rozzer: Morning son. Please turn your engine off for me.

Me: Good morning Occifer how can I help?

Rozzer: (To soften us up). Enjoying the ride?…. Are your helmets both legal?

US: Yes of course *gulp* (both helmets were illegal however one of us at least had a kite mark/BS Mark showing it was at some stage legally approved for use in the UK)

Rozzer: Uh huh. And are those goggles you’re wearing road legal?

Me: Of course (I think the wording on the packaging was ‘for show and display use only’)

Rozzer: I see. What size engine is in your scooter?

Me: (the panic started to set in at this point) 150cc (could he check?)

Rozzer: Right and what motorcycle licence do you have at the moment?

Me: (feeling nails dig deep into my sides from my pillion passenger) err (time to come clean and face the music. ) C.B.T.

For those not aware, the law currently states that to ride on two wheels you have to you complete a day of ‘Compulsory Basic Training’ with a riding school both in a safe environment and on the roads. This will provide you with a certificate enabling you to ride anything on two wheels up to 125cc. It is valid for two years and used as a ‘provisional licence’ until you take your full test (this currently includes a theory, followed by a ‘track section displaying manoeuvres, then an on road competency section). Until you pass the full test you must display ‘L’ plates on the front and rear of your vehicle and you cannot take passengers. Also it’s worth noting that helmets pre 1985 are not actually road legal even if they display the British Standard mark aka kite mark.

Rozzer: I see. *walks around to the rear of the scooter and completes a full circle of the bike* (Then, after the worlds longest pause….) Nice scooter. Very nice mate. Ride on and enjoy your day.

About half a mile down the road I started to breathe again at around the same time I had realised that I had managed to blag my way out of a fine/impounded vehicle or potentially arrest and suspension of my provisional licence. My pillion passenger summed up the experience rather succinctly as is her way: ‘If ever there was a sign for you to take your bike licence that was it’.


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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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February 6, 2012 By : Category : Cars and Scooters Essays Front Page Tags:, , ,
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What Is Mojo?

What Is Mojo? – If you’ve been too shy to ever ask.

It has been the subject of many a song and film in the 1960’s and beyond, but what is it? I took a trip to New Orleans to ask the Gypsy woman and find out for myself. I walked in to her shed way yonder in the bayou and there she sat with a crystal ball and what seemed to be detached chicken legs. I told her about my love troubles and she smiled as she handed me a bag and a wooden hand and said, “Have you ever heard of Love Potion #9? Come back if you ever have trouble again”. Of course, as she had suggested with her confident toothless smile (which was surprisingly sensuous) I never did go back and never did regret losing those 15 US$. Instead I began to feel a power beyond description, my feet began to sweep rather than trod, my worries metamorphosed into ideas, my sweat smelt of rare rose petals, my voice became thicker and more balanced – in short, I had my Mojo working.

Mojo is when you know nothing can stop you. It’s when you encounter a Victoria’s Secret Top Model and casually remind her of her hidden elektra complex.

It’s arrogant compassion.

When you instinctively yell at the big guy cutting the queue and he feels ashamed to have intruded upon your chivalrous territory.

It’s the alchemical transformation of inconvenience into elegance.

It’s the legislation of near future fashion. It’s light feet and a heavy soul. It’s an inexplicable synchronicity with your intuition.

Mojo is equivalence of form with the sinister powers that shape human thought. It is a world where ugliness does not compute in the game of seduction. It is the triumph of Soul over corruptible matter in the many dance floors of life.

As the perfect words flow out of your mouth from your soul without ever passing through your brain you create fantasies upon foreign ears.

As you effortlessly move from the many corners of the club and appear to be all places at the same time your mission is a mystery to the sea of curious eyes that worship your serenity. Yet when you grace the overwhelmed with sincere and nurturing conversation the veil is lifted and a trusted friend is revealed.

Mojo is hoodoo, voodoo, charms, spells and wishing wells encompassed into a heart of bold intentions and secular sincerity.

Speak to me if you ever need a ‘hand’. You’ll find out what Robert Johnson really did at the Crossroads.

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Eron Falbo - EDITOR

Brazilian polymath Eron Falbo came to London in 2009 after leaving his band ‘The Julians’ to pursue a solo career and become a cosmopolitician. Falbo began writing at the age of 11 for the school newspaper. By the age of 16 he had got his first job as a journalist. His experience in other magazines stretches from film critic to travel writer, passing through much but never leaving the culture spectrum. Apart from writing, Falbo is also an emerging singer. He was invited to record an album in one of the best studios in Nashville, Tennessee by none other than legendary producer Bob Johnston, who recorded the best material by the likes of Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash (all acclaimed writers). As of yet he’s only released one single, ‘Beat the Drums’ which was featured on Dermot O’Leary’s “Go Buy Monday” (single of the week) for BBC Radio 2, among other media. Currently, Falbo fronts the band ‘the Kyniks’ in venues in London and around the UK and can be occasionally spotted prowling the scene of the New Untouchables taking notes.

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February 6, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Front Page Tags:, ,
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Vintage or advantage?

Top image: ‘River Island’ resurrects 1960s fashion chain ‘Chelsea Girl’ with this “vintage” 1960s angel sleeve mini dress.

By Angie Smith @ HippieLongstocking Blog

The concept of wearing vintage clothing in conjunction with modern is a relatively new concept in the history of popular fashion. In fact the term “vintage” has been distorted in recent years to mean anything which has a retro vibe or has had the appearance of age added to it during manufacture. It can also mean reworked clothing; vintage clothing that has been altered significantly beyond the designer’s original concept to create an entirely new garment. But in truth the definition of vintage is a design or object which is 25 years or more in age. For example, you cannot call a new car a vintage car, nor a new wine vintage wine. So why is it acceptable to call new clothing vintage?

The original 1960s lace angel sleeve mini dress at a vintage fair. Sold by Victoria & Albert Vintage


Well for me personally it is not acceptable – there is a distinct difference between new and vintage and one has an entirely separate definition from the other. So why am I so passionate that this difference should be not only noted but adhered to?  I believe in the old adage “a place for everything and everything in its place” for a start and then there’s the historian in me that requires me to make a mental chronological catalogue of fashion trends – historic; vintage; contemporary.

It appears to me that the term “vintage” has been adopted by many high street retailers in order for them to cash in on the expanding trend of wearing vintage clothing. Many are faithfully reproducing a vintage garment and selling in all sizes in every store.  So much has the term “vintage” become distorted that should a public survey be carried out the majority would mostly reply “something that looks old”.

The origins of the vintage clothing trend stretch back to the mid 1960s when young people both in the UK and the USA began accessorising their trendy new boutique clothes with antique clothes and military uniforms bought in antique markets and army surplus stores. There had been strong historic influence in clothing before especially with the Teddy Boys of the 1950s with their Edwardian style jackets (hence the term “Teddy”) but wearing old clothes from past periods was not done to any notable degree before the mid 1960s.

Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg wearing new and vintage clothing in 1966.


1960s Mods searching through second-hand clothes in Portobello Antique Market before the term “vintage” was coined.


Portobello Market, London circa. 1968. Young girl tries on an old fur coat from one of the many antique clothing and military uniform dealers.


The boutique phenomenom of the 1960s brought about a change in attitude to dressing oneself. The youngsters of the day were not interested in being dictated to by the catwalks nor high street chains who sold either children’s clothes or adult’s clothes and the teen section tended to be a compromise between the two. It was in fact this lack of understanding of the youth market in the high street that led Mary Quant to design, make and sell her own clothes from her boutique Bazaar which she opened in 1955 on London’s King’s Road. However, it was not until the very early 60s that Quant’s designs began to take off and be noticed as a new direction in youth fashion.  Doubtless to say that Quant was the pioneer of youth fashions in the 60s but it was boutiques such as BIBA and Granny Takes a Trip, both run by their designer owners/proprietors, who first sold ‘second-hand’ clothing alongside their sharp new designs.

‘Granny Takes A Trip’ boutique circa 1966.


A young girl lounges in BIBA’s mock Art Nouveau window seat circa 1967.


The vintage trend waned by the early 70s with the exception of some small subcultures such as Rockers and Teddy Boys but came into popularity again in the late 70s with the Mod revival.  The Mod revival began around 1977 with newly made outfits inspired by original 1960s clothes but also the girls especially found it easy to source original 60s Mod clothing as it was only just being passed on to charity shops. But as the Mod revival became a purist cult its followers adopted the authentic 1960s Mod look and began to wear vintage 60s youth clothing to create an entire look in the same way as the Rockers and Teddy Boys had been doing before them. It was from this point on that the wearing of vintage clothing became mostly and entire historic look for many years because of the popularity of these three subcultures.

Mod revival band The Jam. Singer/songwriter Paul Weller (far left) was a principal figure in the Mod revival movement of the 70’s and 80’s.


1970s mod revival girl wears original 1960s “Op Art” rain mac.


In recent years we’ve seen a return to the 1960s attitude of mixing new and old styles together. This trend has been picked up on by high street retailers who have seen a way to cash in on this trend by producing “vintage inspired” collections of their own. The success of “vintage inspired” clothing is down to four main factors: there is no need to search for it through second hand sources; it is available in any size; it is in new condition; it can be bought at any and many outlets. Pure vintage on the other hand needs to be sourced in mainly small independent shops and comes as individual pieces in one size and in varying condition. My preference is always to choose pure vintage first for the individuality it gives to your look.

Away from the high street a strong interest in vintage clothing in its purist form exists and there are some excellent shops to supply the demand. By “purist” it is meant largely unadulterated clothing of an age of 25 years or more.  In London, where I have lived, worked and shopped all my life, there are some of the best purist vintage shops to be found.  Here are a few of my all-time favourites, all are well-established and reputable vintage clothing dealers:

Rellik –  8 Golborne Road London W10 5NW. Fine vintage clothing and accessories from the 1950s onwards. Has an amazing collection of vintage Vivienne Westwood as well as other notable British designers such as Ossie Clark and other boutique labels.

The Girl Can’t Help It – Alfie’s Antique Market, 13-25 Church Street, London NW8 8DT.  Amazing, well-established and very well stocked vintage shop specialising in mainly American clothing and accessories from the 1930s-1960s period.

What The Butler Wore – 131 Lower Marsh, London SE1.  My favourite vintage clothing & accessories boutique.  Specialists in 60s and 70s clothing, shoes and accessories for men and women but also stock clothes from earlier periods.

Radio Days – 87 Lower Marsh, London SE1.  Just further up the road from What The Butler Wore this Art Deco style vintage shop stocks mainly 1930s-1950s clothing and accessories as well as magazines, homewares, collectables and memorabilia from the same period.

Retromania – 6 Upper Tachbrook Street London SW1V 1SH. Retromania is a vintage charity shop which is part of the FARA group of charity shops. Impressive clothing selection which covers all periods from Victorian to 1980s. They have a vintage homewares section in the basement for those looking to expand their vintage interest to lifestyle!

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Pip! Pip! Are the Creative Business Engine behind various music based organisations of the cool underground variety. Providing angst, confusion, bewilderment and annoyance in equal amounts. We design/host/manage great sites like this one! Why not hire us one day soon?

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January 28, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Fashion Front Page Listings Picks Scene Style UK Tags:, ,
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Clubs and Bands of California

Within the sunshine way of life here in California lies a thriving Mod/60’s scene. Do you and your friends in the scene wonder what it’s like to be a mod here? Well put on your sunglasses, grab a Corona and join me for a little sightseeing.

It is all on a smaller scale than in Europe but there is a pretty exciting and ever growing Mod/60’s scene here in California, made up of people who are into all kinds of different shades in the spectrum of the scene, from swirly to soulie, to revivalist and all the shades in between, with lots of bands and clubs that cater to the different varieties and interests within. The mentality and approach to it is a bit different to Europe in ways I can’t explain, but that’s probably down to local cultural more than anything. No matter what shade of Mod/60’s you are into, there are pretty good clubs here that cater to all of the various parts of the entire mod spectrum.

The music scene in California is pretty awesome. We are host to a number of great shows, clubs and bands. There are hundreds of great bands here, it would be impossible to tell you about them all so I’ll just let you know about a few of my favorites. From San Francisco one of the greatest new bands I’ve seen has to be the soul shouters Nick Waterhouse and the Tarots complete with full horn section and beautiful female backing singers, really authentic stuff! Bart Davenport is also really excellent and from time to time his old band The Loved Ones get together again for one off shows – always worth seeing.  Further east in Sacramento are pure ‘66 garage punk band The’ Loosin Streaks. On more of a hazy swirly psychedelic tip is Los Angeles group the Allah-Las, kind of a wild-west meets Aldous Huxley sound. Going further South to San Diego, the home to a legendary group fronted by Mike & Anja Stax, The Loons, along with psychedelic sensations Silver Sunshine. Lastly a shameless plug for your humble scribe’s own group, The Swarm, who have been buzzing around the Sunset Strip and beyond stinging people with our sonic wall of fuzz.

Most of the Mod/60’s clubs in California are in L. A., and there are constantly new ones popping up. Here’s a listing of a few off the top of my head, The Bullet (Hollywood), Soulside (Santa Monica), Romper Stomper (Hollywood), International Beat Club (L. A.), Spinout (L. A.), Psychotonic (Los Feliz), Mods vs. Rockers (Costa Mesa), Secret Affair (Long Beach), Curreation (LA), Long Beach Sound Society (Long Beach), Trojan Lounge (Santa Monica), Downtown Soul (Santa Ana), Chit Chat Club (L. A.), Funky Sole (Echo Park), and my own club that I run with Jackie Hoodoo, Blackeyed Soul Club. There may possibly be others but the ones I know about in San Francisco are 1964, Oldies Night, Club Phonogram & Tailor Made. There used to be an amazing club there called Diabolik, but sadly that is gone now.

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Jason Ringgold

I’ve been DJ’ing on the Mod/6Ts scene about 12 years now. I moved to London in 1996 where I would live for the next 5 years. In 1997, I was asked to help him co-found the New Untouchables. In late 2001 I moved back to the States landing in San Francisco where I would live for another 5 years doing guest DJ spots at the infamous Diabolik and often travelling to LA to spin at Club-Au-Go-Go and other clubs there. Most recently, I co-founded the Blackeyed Soul Club, along with Jackie Hoodoo. We both share in promoting and running the club along with being the resident DJ’s. Prior to the Blackeyed Soul Club I did a club in Hollywood with Lord Albert, called Pandora's Box. I've DJ’d at are the Euro YeYe (Gijon, Spain), Modstock (London), ModChicago, 6699 (San Diego, CA) & Stateside Satisfaction (San Francisco, CA). I also play bass in a Los Angeles based garage/psych group called The Swarm.

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January 28, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Front Page Scene USA Tags:, , , ,
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Scooter Choice – Nicky Bubbles

Being a lover of classic scooters for such a long period of my life, I had always aspired to one day own what I perceived to be the best scooter of all. The Vespa GS160. Having worked my way along the Vespa chain for a good few years to end up with a fantastic professionally restored burgundy VBB with 10 inch wheel conversion (thanks to a certain reputable North London dealership), I decided that, with my 30’s fast approaching, it was perhaps time to bite the bullet and trade up to that dream scooter. As luck would have it, I managed to tick the box in a short period of time. However, as it was effectively found propped up in a mate’s garage, it raised a question in my mind that I know is pondered by so many fellow/potential scooter riders on the scene: what sort of condition should/would you opt for when owning a classic scooter?

Let’s look at the options here. The first one, and to be fair the most popular through the years, is to fully restore the scooter to it’s ‘original glory’. This means (hopefully) finding someone, if not yourself, skilled enough to strip and rebuild an engine, as well as someone to paint the bike. Now, here’s where us peacocks will tend to deviate from the standard and opt for ‘off spec’ colours which can look fantastic and will certainly gain the attention it deserves as it parades, rider in charge, along the promenade. This is great and is wonderful to see people’s imaginations dictate the final aesthetic. Queue the Brighton Rideout trophy judges….

The next option, and perhaps not sitting so well with a few I’m sure, is the ‘original condition’ scooter. This is where my aforementioned comes into the picture. Finding something that is either a ‘barn find’ or ‘daily rider never touched’ is becoming more and more of a rarity these days. Especially when you bring into the equation the provenance (original log book and number plate). Yes, I will admit the above paragraph fits neatly into reason but there are also people realising that these hairdryers we adore are in fact worth more with the scratches, paint flaking and hand painted names/numbers on the panels from the 60’s. A condition that, once restored, will never be present on the scooter again.

I found that the ‘patina’ on my scooter immediately set it apart from other GS’s and, while not perhaps the most eye-catching in a parade, did certainly gain a few nods or comments of recognition along the way. Most citing a certain book published by Richard Barnes…

Still, using the machine on a daily basis with an original engine (10000 miles in total) meant not being too precious about the overall condition as, after all, they were designed to be ridden!

Another option that is again increasing in popularity is the ‘Rusteration’. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it does what it says on the tin. Find a scooter, no matter the condition (usually fairly well preserved original condition scooters). Then degenerately restore it, if that makes sense. Add your own patina to it. Rub the paint off and leave to oxidise until some rust appears. Hand paint the panels with a brush really badly… effectively knacker the scooter. Usually most decide to then add a racing type engine which in my mind only adds to the comedy value when you decide to ‘race for pink slips’ with that chap on one at the lights…

As you can see, I am slightly biased with my comments here. Having owned scooters from the first two categories, I can say that I have immensely enjoyed them regardless of the condition.  However, with prices quite high against the current climate, it is perhaps a question more people will ponder when it comes to the winter scooter purchase. Concours restoration is time and wonga in a big way but ultimately your personalised scooter to cherish for many years. Ride the original find and you can, if you’re not careful, end up spending a lot of money just keeping it on the road but the benefit of having an unmolested machine straight out of a time warp can have its advantages.  Rusteration: Spending money to make it look like an original condition scooter? Hmmm..

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Nicky Bubbles

Nicky Bubbles was bitten by the bug as a young lad in Australia. With the sounds of Otis, Diana and Marvin in the background of his youth, it was a deep seeded passion for Tamla that helped propel him towards the Mod scene in his mid twenties. The love of scooters was also apparent from a relative obsessed with Vespas. This led to Nicky joining and subsequently taking over the reigns at Central London’s only dedicated geared scooter club as ‘El Presidente’- Bar Italia SC. Based in Soho, the spiritual home of the Mod/ern/ist, the club meet on sundays at the iconic all night coffee bar, drink some of London’s best ground blend, and plan/ride through Central London throughout the year, as well as collaborate with fellow clubs in the South East region. The club, now approaching it’s tenth year anniversary as an official club, has a heavy influence by the scene and represents the more sussed part of the scootering fraternity. All other clubs are welcome, as well as any solo riders, Mod or otherwise.

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January 27, 2012 By : Category : Articles Essays Front Page Objects Style Tags:, , ,
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