Sunday, November 6, 2005
It's a Mod, Mod World: '60s scene gets another global revival
Rena and Glenn Durrant lounging pose in their retro op-art '60s house,
Thursday, July 8, 2005, in Montrose, Calif. Forty years after it zoomed
out of the postwar London streets with colorful styles, soulful music
and its own lingo, a growing international community of party-going
hipsters are grooving to a new Mod scene from Tokyo to Paris. (AP
Photo/Mark J. Terril
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A banner reading "1966" hangs above DJ Rena Durrant
and her turntables at Club Satisfaction in Hollywood. On the dance
floor, doe-eyed girls in polyester A-line dresses and bobbed hair
shimmy and shake alongside boys in three-button suits and Beatle boots.
A '60s R&B tune fills the room.
A film shoot for an "Austin Powers" prequel? Is "American Dreams" returning to prime-time?
on your nelly, mate. This is reality for Durrant and a growing
international community of party-going hipsters who are grooving to the
Mod scene some 40 years after it zoomed out of London's postwar streets
with Italian scooters, colorful styles, soulful music and its own lingo.
the Mod scene is in its fourth or fifth wave — historians of pop
culture disagree on which — and now encompasses subgroups and Internet
cliques from Tokyo to Paris.
Like many of today's Mods, Durrant,
23, wasn't even born during the '60s. But her interpretation of the
movement reflects back to that time.
"There's the age-old
definition of Mod as 'clean living under difficult circumstances,'
which was what the original Mod movement in the '60s was all about,"
Like before, Mods love minimalist design, sharply
tailored clothes, and living and partying well as they maintain a
smartly fashionable image in a world of upheaval.
law student by day and a club DJ by night, Durrant wears dresses with
Peter Pan collars and coordinates her purses perfectly with her go-go
boots or flats. Her long, black hair bouffants in the back. When she
goes out, fake eyelashes rim her eyes.
"The attention to detail is the biggest thing for me," Durrant says.
she normally downplays her Modness at school or on the job with the Los
Angeles County District Attorney's office, it still peeks out. Last
summer, "when I was working in the sex crimes unit, I could wear a pink
plaid suit if I wanted to and my boss one day commented, 'Rena, you
look so Mod."'
Even the home Durrant shares with her
British-born husband and fellow scenester, Glen Durrant, 34, is a
tribute to retro design — from the blue sectional living-room couch to
an OpArt lamp hanging over the kitchen table.
The two met in England at a Mod event when Rena was 19.
while Rena jumped into the scene as a 16-year-old in L.A. — discovering
vintage fashion and music in various clubs — Glen grew up with it in
England, inspired by his Mod parents. He even wears a coat his father
bought at 18.
"It was a throwaway generation," Glen says,
referring to his father's era. "They didn't actually hold the things
they collected in high regard. It's us that are desperate for these
small pieces of vinyl, these records, that we'll pay hundreds of
This obsession with the past, circumscribed within
a Modernist regard for futurist aesthetics, has spurred on generations
In the early to mid-'60s, scenesters rebelled against
drabness in all forms, opting for clean and sophisticated European
looks reminiscent of the roaring '20s versus sedate post-World War II
duds. They also rejected the 1950s' greasy hair-and-motorcycles
Mod girls chopped their hair short and
designer Mary Quant founded the A-line "mini skirt." Boys adopted
longer hair and sleek, dandified suits, and rode around on tricked-out
Vespa and Lambretta scooters. Bands mimicked black American R&B
artists such as Ray Charles and Bobby Bland, and took on similar
high-energy dance forms.
In the late '70s, Mods reappeared with
a New Wave makeover made popular by suited-up band The Jam. The 1979
cult film "Quadrophenia" furthered the revival, with its romanticized
portrayal of clubs packed with cavorting, pill-popping Mods wearing
World War II parkas.
"It's a cool, silly flick, I never actually
saw the movie until years after I was into the scene. It never really
influenced me," says internationally renowned DJ Tony the Tyger, 42, a
regular at San Diego's Hipsters club and L.A.'s Club Au Go-Go, and a
co-founder of Club Satisfaction.
In the early- to mid-'90s, coifed Brit-pop groups such as Blur and Suede reinstated an updated version of the scene.
popular culture has jumped on the Mod train, from Marc Jacobs'
geometric designs to White Stripes' soul-driven garage rock clothed in
red and white. Sixties Mod icon Twiggy — whose boyish figure, pixie
haircut and teenage pout inspired legions of fans — is now a judge on
television show "America's Next Top Model."
"The Mod scene has
an upbeat tempo about it. It gives people a sense of forward motion
while having roots in the past, a simpler time," says sociologist and
"Teenage Wasteland" author Donna Gaines.
"It has a distinctive look for people who are aspiring, upwardly mobile, but still want to be hip."
the Internet, today's Mods can research and explore Mod revival scenes
all over the world — from which shops have the best clothes and
records, to clubs and scooters.
New York resident Layla Lozano,
29, who works in college administration and co-founded '60s
monthly-party clubs Smashed! Blocked! and Debutante Ball, says she
started wearing Mod-type clothes — black turtlenecks, black skirts — in
her native Texas back in 1988. Years later, after college, exposure to
Mod Web sites such as Swedish site uppers.org led her to exploring
shindigs in other cities: "allnighters" (all-night parties) in London
or "weekenders" (weekend-long parties) in Chicago and Madrid.
today's Mod clubs, DJs come armed with an arsenal of authentic '60s
records. Bands like the Mojo Filters and Headquarters perform. Girls
and guys dress to the nines to dance, drink and schmooze.
those parties seemed like a whole other world away, but I wasn't online
eight hours a day back then," Lozano says. "I think people want an
excuse to travel. For one weekend, they're surrounded by new faces."
herself models her look on a French '60s style — what she calls
"gamine," but "not too mature looking" — short skirts, primary colors,
pigtails, lots of makeup.
"New York is a really international
city, so our crowd is very international. Half our scene is made up of
people who are foreign: Brazilians, Spanish people, Japanese girls,
ex-pats from England. I haven't really seen that anywhere else in the
Next year, from Feb. 2-4, more than a dozen international
DJs and hundreds of Mods will gather in New York for Reaction, a huge
weekender Lozano co-organized that will feature a record and clothing
Amid the fun, however, both Rena Durrant and Lozano point
out that some people take "the scene" too seriously. Women, especially,
are subjected to a critical gaze based on their clothes, hair and
makeup, regardless of place.
"If you're going to call yourself a
Mod, there's an element of being picky, of taking care of your
appearance. Some people do take it to a snob level, and maybe look down
on people who aren't 'cutting it' to their standard," Lozano says.
for Quadrophenia's drug-addled portrayal of Mods, Glen Durrant says it
wasn't an accurate representation of the time, though today's
generation "still engages in that."
"But I don't think Mod is
synonymous with drug culture. We're not talking about rave culture,
even though there are a lot of similarities," he says.
If anything, Durrant says the Mod scene's best quality is its pure joy in having a good time, a shared aesthetic.
all about taking yourself beyond that level of perfection. I'll quite
happily go out and buy a suit for an occasion, and then I'll sweat all
over it. It's kind of super-real, knowing people get that down."
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