To Ride, Rock and Roll

I've been riding for some years now and for even longer I have played in a “some sort of heavy metal” band. Not a professional musician, but let's say I've had my fair share of gigs and other related things.
Last evening, as we were setting up our gear for a concert at a motorbike party, the idea of this piece just popped in my head: how come that 99.5% of such similar parties and meetings involve rock and metal? The percentage above may be an exaggeration of course, but it's not statistics we're talking here.

Certainly, there are bike parties where people are listening to other types of music, but they are so few... at least I've never been to one of such fashion. In fact, the closest thing to AKM (another kind of music) bike meetings was a rally 3 years ago, with a special corner in the party area dedicated to electronic/ dance/ hip-hop.

That space was almost empty until two dancers got up on two wooden cubes and started to entertain the few people there who seemed to be enjoying their energy drinks. The DJ pumped up the volume and some more guys poured in, some of them clearly inebriated and even more clearly there for the scantily dressed young ladies.

It would be really hard to tell how many of those attending the dance corner were there because they liked the music. Some of those guys were some sort of distant acquaintances and I could vouch for the fact that they were just in for the dancing girls; apart for some people whose appearance could lead one into thinking they were clubgoers, there was nobody in for the music itself. In fact, the whole dancy-dancy thing lasted for just a few hours and as the girls took a break, the audience was back to the usual thing: metal!

It's somewhat funny to see that pretty much everything related to the biking world has, in one way or another, something to do with rock'n'roll and metal. As eagles and wings are ubiquitous when it comes to motorcycle symbolism. And mixing them together makes a most interesting metal/ rock – bikes – eagle thing which is almost like a second nature whenever one of these three comes into focus.

As one discusses choppers, it's hard not to associate some wings with the idea, while not seeing a stage at a bike rally would raise an eyebrow or two in the vein of a legitimate “how come that we won't we be having a rock concert tonight?” question.

For me, bikes and rock go together for almost no reason, and I am glad they do, as I like both. Even in places where the hosts haven't gotten sufficient funds for a stage and bands, still one would find some large loudspeakers and some rock to put them to work and complete the party picture.

There are quite few occasions when the bike parties bring big names in the music world, but no matter whether we're thinking a bigger name or a band playing just covers, it's not about the musicians themselves as for the atmosphere and the music. One would even stretch things a bit further and say that rock and motorcycles belong to each other.

Now, it's so obvious that people start listening to rock or metal way before they get to own and ride a motorbike. What makes a rocker think about biking in the first place... that's really a mystery.

For some strange reason, the biggest part of those who ride enjoy rock music quite a lot. Without necessarily being metalheads, these guys will enjoy the smooth tunes of Deep Purple as they will sing along to some “true brothers of metal” Manowar songs, while screaming their throats sore when a Slayer song would cut through the evening, or cheer and smile with the pints up in the air to some modern era viking metal.

Conventionalism set aside, AD/DC fans and death metal lovers will all skip the musical differences between them and will gladly cheer and enjoy their party, hug and sing as booze gradually takes control. And they'll all agree that Motorhead is an awesome music for bike parties.

As a sociology graduate, I tried to explain this relationship, at least to myself, but the only thing I could come up with is a bit too anchored in truism. It's plain common sense that people see rock/ metal and riding a bike as some sort of protest against the “go with the flow” routine. Both of these address certain spiritual needs and maybe that's why they get along so well.

While one would choose to ride to feel free and leave the day's stress behind, rock music touches that part of the soul which needs to break free from the common things, often seen as petty. And if we just think some 40-50 years ago when it took off, hippies and later rockers really stood for something.

What once was just a mild yet solid protest against war, later to be transformed in a music to channel all the “socially-inadequate feelings” has now become everyday business; nevertheless the “rebel spirit” tag carried on and it's most unlikely that motorcycles and rock will ever shake it off.

As for the “rebel” issue... far from being a bad thing, I am really glad to meet these rebels from both worlds. There might be some guys who get into bikes just to show off and pretend they like Judas Priest, but they're so easily spotted; most of them are really nice individuals and most of them will try to blend in when it comes to bikes & metal parties. Good for them, I'd say, there is a beginning for everything.

Until next time, stay rebel, ride your bikes and enjoy rock music whenever you can.
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