These photographs were taken in Brighton over two August Bank holidays in 2015 and 2019 – the weekend when mods from all over the UK descend on the Sussex town; many on scooters with dozens of highly-polished wing mirrors glinting in the sun and target flags waving.
I was in my teens during the late 70s/early 80s mod revival, but I was also (ahem) a bit of a rocker. You picked your tribe and mostly stuck to it, even if you secretly liked some of ‘their’ tunes. In my forties (with a far-broader appetite in music and having put my studded denim cut-off in the loft) I started visiting Brighton and my interest in mod culture grew, although always with a spy-in-the-camp sensibility.
I’m drawn to the eccentricity in mod culture and intrigued by their particular version of Britishness (and yes, ok, by some of the music). Like caravanning or model aeroplane enthusiasts. Only, cool. The precision and neatness of the mod tribal wardrobe and the obsession with that shiny, shiny chrome. The clean, Sta-Prest lines, patterns, textures and frequent whimsy make a great visual offer to the photographer.
Long gone is the “moral panic” of the mods v rockers beachfront punch-ups, viscous knife fights and tabloid headlines. It’s all meet-ups and knees-ups, badge swaps and scooter-care tips. From peacocks taking it all very seriously to fans having a bit of fun and sharing their proud and enduring cultural identity.
Forget your Brighton Rock. They are the Mods!
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