Ok, yeah, that’s Quadrophenia, but it’s pretty much how we saw ourselves. Though there weren’t rockers in DC; mods didn’t brawl with anyone, it was never a fighting thing. There was always something of an unspoken truce with the DC punks. Tim Goldsmith and I went to one of those Woodlawn hardcore shows in our parkas and no one bothered us. While there was occasional tension with the handful of skinheads (Lefty and her crew) that hung out in Georgetown sometimes, the only altercation I can recall was when a few friends and I got into a hilarious skirmish of hurled Little Tavern hamburgers (those little ones you’d buy by the dozen-bag) back and forth across Wisconsin Avenue, by where The Gap is now.
It was just incredibly, breathtakingly fun for several years. What made it a scene, and not just some bands here and there, were the clubs (all now places that are gone, like Back Alley Cafe, Poseurs, The Company, Hung Jury Pub, The Gentry, The Bayou, old 930 Club, DC Space, etc), the endless number of shows, the house parties (where people actually danced and bands played), the zines, and of course the scooters.
The mod scene wasn’t at all purist by more strict UK standards, that’s for sure. Many of us were ‘somewhat mod-ish’ at best, and there was plenty of sloppy overlap with new wave and other styles. I mean I was called ‘Mod Bill’ in high school but often wore corduroys with a thrift store jacket. You worked with what you could find, which was sometimes a vague approximation of actual mod protocol. Nobody really cared about the length of your side vents or the width of your tie (except maybe David Thornell). Eventually The Reply would play in shorts and a Modest Proposal moment of fashion infamy was a Fort Reno show where I think Neal and I wore shirts with cut-off sleeves. Ok, it was the 80s, but still.
The DC punk scene was earlier, bigger, more legendary, and there are plenty of documentaries about it these days. But we had a damn good time.