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WHAT IS A MOD???

 Maybe it is an age thing but I am totally confused!! Just what is a 'mod' these days?

Back in the sixties a mod was pretty well defined - sharp clothes, a love of black music (Soul, R&B, Ska, Blues, Jazz). We frequented dance halls and clubs. We had attitude (too much some would say!) and were leaders rather than followers - setting trends and fashions -

At least that was the case until the scene was usurped by the forces of commercialism when all of a sudden we were portrayed as followers rather than leaders who shopped in Carnaby St before heading down to The Scene on a Saturday night, parkas protecting our mohair suits before parking our scooters (adorned with a myriad of lights and mirrors) then showing off the latest dances we had learned from Patrick Kerr on RSG to the sounds of the Who and Small Faces!!! 

But what is a 'mod' today? Hopefully somebody can explain.  There do not seem to be any parameters?  As far as music is concerned it seems that almost anything is considered 'mod' I have seen mod sites featuring material by Oasis, Blur, Smiths, Stone Roses, sixties pop, two tone etc etc - almost anything and everything!

so - what do members perceive a modern day 'mod' to be. What are their definitions? Are there parameters to what can be classed as a 'mod' or should the term simply be kept to describe the original sixties culture?

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  • This is one of the better descriptions:-

    "Mods were units of perfect private enterprise, that's why they were such an impressive and frightening sight whenever they assembled."

    Limelight Blues - Tony Parsons 

    Not so sure about the frightening aspect these days, but the perfect private enterprise and impressive, I will go along with.

     

    • It is certainly a very Parsons like description.
  • I loved the Coffee An - always teamed up there before going clubbing. I always put the same three records on the jukebox - Jimmy Smith Walk on the Wild Side (B side of course!) - Derek Martin Daddy Rolling Stone and Bob Dylan She Belongs To Me - funny how some things always stay with you !! It was a good place for buying and selling gear as well !!                                      I remember Le Macabre well but it was something of a novelty. The Freight Train - went there a few times but it was off limits somewhat as there was a guy from a rival gang that used it and he had quite a reputation - so best left alone!!

    Fully agree with comments about live bands although I did see a couple of live acts at La Disc - Herbie Goins and Nightimers and Rickenbeckers.. The best club for live music was undoubtedly The Flamingo and I have some fond memories of some great live music there (Solomon Burke being the best). The Marquee was another great live spot but was not an all nighter so didn't go that often!       The Whisky A Go Go was ok but tended to be a bit upmarket like the Ad Lib  which again aimed at people with dosh! Only went to Whisky a couple of times - I seem to remember they had a drinks licence.

    I was not too keen on The Scene - a lot of poseurs I thought - too posh for me. I have heard people say La Disc was full of dodgy people (baby gangsters!) and I suppose thinking back there might be some truth in that !! We thought we were all going to be the guv'nors of London one day LOL !! 

    There were some great clubs/ venues all over Londo n in mid sixties but Soho was the place to be - no doubt about that!

    • just rang a bell !! i'm sure the rickenbeckers played a gig in the "chance" ?? i haven't thought of them since 65 i never gave them a 2nd thought but reading your post and something clicked !       i can remember herbie goins being advertised in the current music papers ?   out of interest where was the ad-lib ? the name rings a bell but i cant place it ?  the coffee-ann was good for buying blues i can still remember the guy's name who we bought from there ,  i was actually in the last chance saloon on a saturday night 12 years ago it was called "the metro" then and i was in the west end and saw all these teenagers standing outside in oxford st . i went down the stairs and 2 big black guys were sitting in the cloakroom , i told them i used to use the club back in the 60s and would so appreciate one last look in at my old stamping ground and they obliged ! it hadn't changed at all in 40 odd years the music wasn't RnB anymore and the kids were dancing with metal piercings in their eyebrows and cheeks ? i stood there for those few moments remembering when i was there last dancing to hot new releases like "getting mighty crowded" and "the jerk" by the larks , my soft spot for the old days "up west was re-ignited all over again !  ahh ! i was home again ! ha ha

    • Another smashing post. Soho was always seedy and edgy. Even when not much was happening you had the feeling that could all change very quickly, for good or bad. It  seemd the evening never went exactly as expected. I think that is what made it different. Plenty of  times we didn't actually end up where we intended going at the beginning of the evening and would  moan on the way home that we should have stuck to our plan. Somehow we always got sidetracked or involved along the way

      I think your post captures that John.Nowhere had that same air of exciement that Soho had.. 

  • I would definatelly rule out music in how it defines a 'mod' these days, I certainly won't be tied down to what people were listening to 50 years ago, there's too much good stuff out there.

    A sence of style, certainly, a well fitting, well considered outfit, for sure, that's 'mod'.

    But lets not forget that 'mod' is short for 'modernist', so keep a broad mind, do not be blinkered into thinking what was going on 50yrs ago needs preserving in stone, coz it doesnt, times change, and so do people, but you can always keep a wink to where our sence of style come from.

    • Hmmm. They moved on as quickly as they could make a buck in my opinion.

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    • What struck me most about this was how different it was to what I was doing in the late fifties and early sixties. It was about Mods and not Modernists, so that is to be expected, but the speed at which it changed is what I find most remarkable.

      His references to the influence of Ronnie Scotts, could give the impression that it was a favourite with Mods, as does his reference to Miles Davis. The audience at Scotts, when it was in Gerrard Street was very different from The Marquee and Flamingo. Scotts was quite dingy, not normally banged out and the sharp suits, starched collars etc. were quite a small minority. The Marquee  and Flamingo  were different, everybody was young and fashionable. It has always been my opinion they were there for the fashion and not the music.

      I do not recall seeing any scooters in Soho. I did not know anyone who had a scooter. I am not convinced that many Mods went to Soho on a scooter, it was quicker and less trouble on the tube.

      Carnaby Street as a fashion centre was post Modernist.  Modernists  went by and large to good local tailors of repute. 

      This all happened within a couple of years, if that. I suppose that is what makes it what it is. If it did not evolve the Modernist/Mod name  would be pointless. 

    • John: "I do not recall seeing any scooters in Soho. I did not know anyone who had a scooter. I am not convinced that many Mods went to Soho on a scooter, it was quicker and less trouble on the tube".
      I almost totally agree with all that  you are saying here pre 1963, but as you know The Scene didn't open till then. There are agency photos of Mickey Tenner and co. in Ham Yard at this time on Scooters. I did park mine inside the tiny crammed mews, initially sharing it with scores of amphetamine fuelled up mods, but the combination of having bits knicked off it or bike stolen, being heavilly pilled up myself and being more convenient to jump the Bakerloo Line, also convinced me to do otherwise.
      Again at the original Ronnie Scotts at Gerrard Street, they're just wasn't enough pavement room opposite at The Alphabet Club to park my Vespa, as the mods would be strewn across both sidewalks and in the road in the street throughout the night. (Pre pedestrianised of course).
      From late 1950's and prior to 1963, a bit different. My sister was 7 years older than me and went around with the emerging scooter boys come mod(ernist) crowd. I distinctly remember three of them having  original Vespa GS scooters. All silver grey of course, but a fashion was beginning to emerge, way before I was 16, where each had the side bubbles (panels) spayed blue, green and gold respectively, way before chroming and copper fishtail exhaust extensions (via Fred The Welder) .  Already a mod type fashion was emerging (call it what you will) and at 16, I bought the blue bubbled GS in 1963 and used this scooter at The Scene.
      I worked in Soho between 1962 and 1966, never without a scooter. Plenty of them up West, many of them used by messengers *(postroom boys) all day long, going between the Advertising Agencies in Soho and the print engravers in Clerkenwell. Then on to the Fleet Street newspapers.
      *Must make a film one day about them, unless its already been done..................
      Unfortunately, there isn't enough photomedia to cover the period leading up to the sixties. Much as I have enjoyed the more recent books covering the subject, the friends of mine that were featured in them, could only have been around 16 or 17 years old themselves, in 1963!
      Its difficult to cram an Eddie Piller Soho walk into 10 minutes, but he really should have given a nod to The Roaring Twenties Club in Carnaby (way before Carnaby Street ever got mod)! or Vince Mans Shop (surely it was all going on here before Lord John etc) and what about Pauls Tailors (or whatever it was originally called) in Berwick Street, while he was passing? As for EP's visit to the tailors, when he talks of 1966/7, we had all flown the nest by then, less Speed more LSD!!!! It sent us  two miles up the road to UFO,Middle Earth (Electric Garden) Roundhouse etc ., looking for the new Nirvana as we booked our tickets on the magic bus to India.
      Alwaysenjoy your comments John, theyfill in and cement the gaps from the very start of the Mod(ernist) era, keep 'em coming!

    •  would agree with most of what you say. Scooters were not practical. The Roaring Twenties should definitely get more space but then so should La Disc which opened before the Scene and was reputedly the fist 'discotheque' in the country. I remember the Alphabet although never went down there - it carried a bit of a name from its previous days! Lots of memories of clubs such as the Marquee, The London Cavern, the Whisky A Go Go etc. I never went over to the other side (hippies, flower power, psychedelia etc) staying with the mod look up until the dawn of seventies albeit up in Newcastle.

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