The annual "Mods vs. Rockers" scooter rally rolls out next weekend. The two archetypes were portrayed in the 1979 British cult film Quadrophenia (based on the Who's rock opera of the same name). The sharply dressed Mods liked ska, R&B, and reggae and rode Italian scooters; the Rockers wore leather, rode Triumph motorcycles, and tended to prefer rock.
For the local rally, members of two local scooter clubs, the Pharaohs and the Secret Society, will ride alongside the "rockers" in the Ton Up Club.
"This is our 15th anniversary," says Nicole King of the Pharaohs. "The Secret Society turns 25 years this year."
The Secret Society formed during the mid-'80s ska boom, when hordes of Vespas would show up at local ska shows.
"I really don't know how many members they have," says King. "It's a secret. The Pharaohs have about 70 members in Southern California. We're an international club."
King says the two groups will converge at the Tower Bar January 19. On the 20th, they meet up for a barbecue on Mission Bay.
"Then, at 6 p.m., we meet at Gelato Vero and all drive up to the Belly Up Tavern. I am leading the ride.... We take the Coast Highway all the way up. Some people have smaller bikes that aren't allowed on the freeway. They range in speed from, like, 20 miles an hour to 70 miles an hour."
Although Quadrophenia depicted violence between the two groups, King says the local mods get along with the "rockers."
"We meet every Tuesday at the Egyptian Tea Room in the College Area," says King, who works at a Vespa dealership in Hillcrest. "And from there we go to see a ska DJ or a band. We might go to the Zombie Lounge or the Tower Bar or the Live Wire."