A Conversation for The Mods of the 1960s

mods - a wembley viewpoint

Post 1

mekon8

the article is very informative but i question some elements!
I was in the 14-18 range during those crucial years; kind of
a fringe mod, fringe "hippie/beat" - i'd go to the starlight
"ballroom" in sudbury with local mods [ i worked in a supermarket
on weekends] but also to eel pie island in twickers with kids from
my posh school in west london. geno washington, the birds [west london version], long john baldry's group with jools driscoll/rod stewart etc, yardbirds - all at the mod club. while john mayall and blues oriented-
type groups did eel pie island.
so, my point is; i've never heard of "aces"!! or "tickets/numbers"
maybe that's just west london ignorance. what's the source for those?
for me the real mods came out of south and east london, just as you
say. they went to clubs "up West" like the original discotheque
on wardour st, the marquee, flamingo etc. Did blues and purple
hearts [pills that is]. danced on ready steady go.
i dont think there was any connection with aces.
the creative types [later hippies? maybe], who resurrected edwardian double breasted suits from jumble sales, dyed collarless shirts bright colours, flared trousers, flowery liberty-style ties, anello and davide theatre shoes - well, they mostly came out of art schools. The
royal college of art was seminal in those days. they held incredible
friday night dances on 4 floors with 3 different bands - and anyone
could go!! even spotty kids like me and my stylish mates. the
saturday night party scene was also huge - a list of 15-20
parties - from chelsea to golders green to ealing - every
weekend - a great forum for exchange of ideas in clothes and style.
funnily enough i was in Brighton that bank holiday, only I was with my
Mum and Dad! how embarrassing! my impression was that rockers were
outnumbered by about 50 to 1. the only rockers in west london
hung out at the ace cafe on the north circular, so most of
them must have come from outside london.
as to what happened to mods? I'm certain these working class kids
didn't become hippies. they simply bought cars. their girlfriends
were fed up with scooters by then, wanted to settle down, have more
privacy when they had sex.
cheers!


mods - a wembley viewpoint

Post 2

DogManStar

Hi, thanks for posting.

OK: the source for 'aces' 'tickets' etc was, I believe, Richard Barnes' excellent 'Mods!' book, although I have also seen these monikers referenced in 'A Very British Phenomenon' by Terry Rawlings, and various social studies of youth culture. I would, incidentally, strongly recommend both of these books if you are interested in the subject, or seeking to relive a bit of history! The High Numbers were so-named as a reference towards the 'numbers' tag. I've also read that it became fashionable to stitch numbers on the back of parkas for a while - although I can't remember seeing any pictures of this in my research. 'States' was another term, this time a derogatory one for particularly clueless Mods or those outside the Mod movement: in the hugely enjoyable film Quadrophenia, Jimmy Cooper describes his Rocker friend as 'a state, a third class ticket', with 'all that greasy hair and dirty clobber', and makes constant references to the Ace - in this insance, Ace Face, the 'King Mod' played by a ludicrously coiffered Sting.

Yes, it is also my belief that the real Mods came from outside Soho and the West End. Certainly the closest adherence to the style emerged from east of Liverpool Street. My uncles (Mile End) were very heavily into the Mod lifestyle for years before 1964 and the whole Brighton business, which effectively killed the movement off as a cutting edge style cult. One of the pecularities of the Mod movement was that because it was relatively unobtrusive it was able to develop very highly before the media discovered it. The South Coast riots (and, incidentally, an interview with a Rocker I read recently also makes the claim that they were vastly outnumbered, in his word 'one of us to forty of them') suddenly gave the movement a uniform and a set of rigid rules - which of course is the last thing a constantly-evolving cult needs. Again, my belief is that Mod is very much more a state of mind than a state of wardrobe - much like Punk, in fact. The difference between dressing like a Mod and thinking like a Mod is huge, and this ideology is the hallmark of a cult, as opposed to a fashion.

Yes, when I made the point about Mods becoming Hippies, it wasn't meant as a strictly literal statement. What I was driving at was that the section of society that was formally attracted to the Mod lifestyle - ie 15-25 year olds, broadly speaking - was now instead drawn towards the Love and Peace thing. You make an excellent point about working class kids - these tended to gravitate towards the Skinhead scene that was emergent at this time. I did, in fact, intend to write a follow up article about Skinheads, as they have a very interesting and vastly misunderstood story of thier own to tell.

Anyway, thanks for the message and passing on some valuable information and viewpoints, all the more valuable considering you were actually there. The party scene I wish I'd expanded upon, as you are correct in identifying it as a big part of the Mod movement.


Hard Mods

Post 3

thesmirker

My understanding of Hard Mods is that many of them were very smart indeed,
continuing the trend for bespoke mohair suits through the late sixties and beyond.


mods - a wembley viewpoint

Post 4

si-cheeba

The South Coast riots (and, incidentally, an interview with a Rocker I read recently also makes the claim that they were vastly outnumbered, in his word 'one of us to forty of them') suddenly gave the movement a uniform and a set of rigid rules - which of course is the last thing a constantly-evolving cult needs. Again, my belief is that Mod is very much more a state of mind than a state of wardrobe - much like Punk, in fact. The difference between dressing like a Mod and thinking like a Mod is huge, and this ideology is the hallmark of a cult, as opposed to a fashion.



Mr DogManStar,

The above is a great summary on the whole culture of what is commonly known as "mod".

Being born in 1970 I was somehwat too young to be involved in the "first phase" - but as others have indicated - the mod scene has continued in various incarnations to this very day.

As you say it was the "attitude" that above all defined what it was all about. That is why you can directly link the various ongoing teenage subcultures to the original mods view on lifestyle.

The skinhead movement was one direction from mods - going back to their roots in a way - with the very Ivy League influenced fashions (albeit with a harder JA/British edge) and love of contemporary black music - (this time Soul and Reggae - over jazz and RnB)

The Art/Hippy era was actually a camouflage. There was so many different things and directions going on in fashion and music in the 66-72 era underneath that it is a shame that the general portrayal in hindsight is just of "hippy" culture - middle class dope parties and shit dancing - and celebrities dropping LSD and going to India. To me the mod movement also continued on the art/fashion and progressive music side.

Whilst at the same time in the Manchester and the NW - the mod obsession with music and dancing begat Northern Soul - the primary authentic youth lifestyle cult until punk came along.

Which brings us to the mid /late 70s where low and behold , the next generation discovered mod and a national revival occurred. The effects of which influenced me and my peers throughout the 80s where the whole timelessness of the various aspects of mod culture spawned an underground scene that had to be witnessed to be believed. To us it wasn't a revival - we were discovering it for the first time.

After a few years of the "strictly 60s mod" lifestyle quite a few people again went off in different directions - to pursue their own logical progression - but still took with them that essential mod attitude in whatever they did.

In the meantime there were lots of people in other scenes that had the mod attitude yet didn't realise the connection

The "mod scene" today in 2005 is - as it always has been - made up from different influences. - jazz heads, soul boys, RnB nuts, Beat/Psyche-nicks - skin/suedes, etc , etc

As has been documentetd in various publications - you can put a mod attitude into anything in your life: architecture / design / fashion / food / music / art / film / etc - and a true mod will spot it.

"If you have to ask - you won't understand"


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