MODS IN PARADISE
WHEN VESPA BIKES TOOK OVER THE TOWN…
When Vespa bikes took over the town
The Modern kids, the modernists, or simply known “The Mods” is the best way to describe this unique subculture that first emerged in the United Kingdom back in the late ‘50’s. In that era, a new group of people dressed up neatly in tailor-made measured suits and clean shiny shoes like boots or brogue. They took to the road with dandy style, but it was their ride that took everyone’s attention: Italian Piagio Vespa scooters. The vehicle was more than just a bike. It was an element that defined their identities and gave them the freedom to roam. Soon, this ride became a bold statement of a movement.
Fast forward to 2017, the chiclooking Italian-made scooter – which oddly places its engine on the rear right side – somehow still captivates the market by heart, including in Bali. The number of Vespa owners on the island may still be smaller than those of Japan-made bikes, but their hardcore owners are more than a tight-knit community. No one really knows when exactly Vespa – that originally comes from Pontedera in Tuscany region – entered Bali, an island under the equator line halfway across the world, but based on some personal family archives, I believe some cool Balinese youngsters were already riding around town on their Vespa motorbikes since the early ‘70’s.
It’s a universal formula that proves that the smaller the community is, the more united the members are. Bali’s Vespa community is not that small, but the bond between the members is proven over the years. And last month, they held the “6th Bali Mods Mayday” and turned the big yard of TVRI’s front garden as the epicenter of their cool Vespa bikes.
On the “6th Mods Mayday”, the number of Vespa communities in Bali that joined the event grew within minutes. “We have 1,300 units ready to take the road. We will start at Sector Bar in Sanur and cruise around Denpasar before finishing at TVRI,” informed Ipung, the organizer of Bali Mods Mayday.
It was 3 p.m. when thousands of Vespa bikes entered the lawn in Renon in downtown Denpasar. There was so many of them that the noise of the engines resembled an army of angry bees, while the riders were all dressed up in classy British outfits such as Dr. Marten boots, pencil straight pants, bomber jackets
and Fred Perry shirt – some of them even wore porkpie hats. It looked as if half of them came straight from Brighton Beach in the UK where the Mods had a rampant riot back in 1964. In that year, they held a fist fight against their arch nemesis, the slick-haired and denim-wearing bikers named The Rockers or The Leather Boys during a bank holiday. The event made the headlines and was known as the Brighton Brawl.
But of course, no such thing happened on the “6th Mods Mayday”. In fact, that special day was even merrier with a stage for entertainment, such as Mods sounds and British-infused Jamaican SKA. Taking the center stage was the long line of Vespa bikes parked on top of a red carpet. The showcase was not just for the crowd to adore their pimped modifications but also for the jury panel to judge the bikes based on the category they joined in, from the mods style to classic restoration, modern restoration, PX series, super or sprint restoration, and more.
“This is an important annual event for us, all Vespa owners and lovers. We have chapters in other cities in Indonesia, like the Jakarta Mods Mayday, Indonesia Mods Mayday in Bandung in West Java, and Surabaya Mods Mayday,” Ipung added. “We communicate with each of the organizers in those cities to make sure no dates clash, so that Vespa owners can join all Vespa fiestas in those cities.” Without a doubt, this subculture shows no signs of slowing down, or let alone fading away in the years to come.