mods and rockers

Previous: The ‘Art of Thinking’ about the Mods and the Rockers, Soft Touch Arts, 23rd June, 5.00pm

Philosopher Dr Greg Scorzo

Soft Touch Arts, 50 New Walk, Leicester, LE1 6TF

What can the 60’s youth tribes teach us about gang culture today?

Part of Revive Festival – Shaping a Generation 

What makes youth tribes go to war? Are there parallel causes that can be found between the Mods and Rockers of the 60’s and the Postcode gangs of today? Reasons such as economic deprivation, drug abuse, social alienation, lack of positive male role models, and a desire to belong to a kind of family are often cited as underlying causes of gang violence. Yet a sense of rebelliousness and a need to demonstrate worth through bravado and creativity through fashion and music can be positive.

Mods and rockers were two conflicting British youth subcultures of the early/mid 1960s to early 1970s. Media coverage of mods and rockersfighting in 1964 sparked a moral panic about British youth, and the two groups became widely perceived as violent, unruly troublemakers. Their sub-cultures were linked strongly to music and fashion.

The rocker subculture was centred on motorcycling, and their appearance reflected that. Rockers generally wore protective clothing such as black leather jackets and motorcycle boots (although they sometimes wore brothel creeper shoes). The style was heavily influenced by Marlon Brando in The Wild One. The common rocker hairstyle was a pompadour, while their music genre of choice was 1950s rock and roll, played by artists including Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, and Bo Diddley.

The mod subculture was centred on fashion and music, and many mods rode scooters. Mods wore suits and other cleancut outfits, and preferred 1960s music genres such as soul, rhythm and blues, ska, beat music, and British blues-rooted bands like The Yardbirds, the Small Faces, and The Who

Today the marginalised sub-cultures of youth tribes are distinguished by their postcodes. Police are waging a crackdown on a genre of rap music that officers claim is driving rising knife and gun crime. YouTube has already deleted more than half of videos targeted by the Police in a dedicated operation against “drill” music, which originated in Chicago and has become increasingly popular in Britain. Senior officers say the videos, which frequently contain graphic threats and gun signs, glamourise violence but fans argue they reflect artists’ experiences.

Five drill musicians have been banned from writing lyrics encouraging violence and ordered to warn police before they record or perform any songs. In the first judgement of its kind, the judge imposed a three-year criminal behaviour order on the gang members, who are serving sentences for conspiracy to commit violent disorder. All of them are part of the 1011 drill group, which has racked up millions of views on YouTube. Some drill music tracks still available online feature groups associated with the postcode war.

Can lessons we have learnt from the past be applied to tackling youth violence today, or is it a very different phenomena?

Watch clips, listen to a talk, have some discussion led by the entertaining and insightful philosopher, Dr Greg Scorzo.

Tickets available through EVENTBRITE OR Facebook Events

£5.00 or £3.00 concessions

Tickets also available on the door.

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