Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Daytona Bike Week - Tamar Alexia Fleishman
Tamar! (With Dragon and friends)
Okay, I'll admit it: in the normal course of my life, I'm not exactly biker material. Hell, I've never even had a driver's license. But in service to you and to report on interesting cultural developments, I landed myself in Daytona at its annual Bike Week (www.bikeweek.com). Always beginning that first weekend in March, Daytona has been hosting Bike Week for 65 years.
I came out to Daytona as a guest of the Rebel Pride band (www.rebelprideband.com), so it was a Bike Week/Concert Tour rolled in one. They had been booked by the Full Moon Saloon, a very popular indoor-outdoor venue that is actually part of a consortium of Daytona bars. Since for various reasons we were staying at a hotel in Orlando, there was a 2 hour commute each way with all the traffic. I wouldn't recommend it -- just pony up whatever you have to in order to stay by the beach and be able to enjoy a cocktail or two. Because Rebel Pride was playing the 1 - 5 slot, we had to be up early for the band to set up. The Full Moon Saloon blocked off its extensive parking lot, which abuts Main Street. For one of the days, I had the privilege of emceeing the concert. People could see the band on MainStreet and would just pour in when they were playing. Bikers -- they like hearing Freebird, no question.
Several food and T-shirt vendors were on site; the food was mainly forms of Southern barbecue and bar food. The prices were not exorbitant for what you were getting -- pork chops cost $8 or more, depending on the weight, but the chops were the size of the beast they used to throw on Fred Flintstone's car to tip it over. There is definitely no "health food" around -- be prepared to regress to your 10 year old slumber party days. I brought Borba packets to mix into water. Also, since there are no canopies or chairs, you'll want a good sun block and comfy shoes to enjoy yourself.
But, just because you'd wear comfy shoes doesn't mean other people do: the gals of Bike Week definitely fit into the "Girls Gone Wild" category. The bartenders, to whom I referred as "The Naked Girls," were consistently in well, almost nothing along with fetish boots. How they stood in them for hours is anybody's guess. While most days were sunny and in the upper 70's,there were some chilly overcast moments. During the more brutal times, even the Naked Girls were forced to put on jackets borrowed from bouncers. I struck up a conversation in the ladies' room with one Rita Jean, from St. Genevieve, MO. She had been at the Full Moon every day in progressively flashier and skimpier attire, so I thought she might be open to an interview. Rita was a dark-haired Cherokee Indian who claimed that Daytona was no match for the famed Sturgis Bike Week.
As wild as it is, Daytona Bike Week is not as hard-core as other bike weeks around the country. Local officials hand out steep fines and jail time to flashers (though I saw several) and also for cursing on stage. Certainly one thing they don't play around with: no "colors" are allowed in the bars. Now, I had heard of gang colors, such as red or blue. What biker "colors" mean are any clothing reference to your actual club affiliation. They don't differentiate between the kinds of groups, either. I saw some Brotherhood of Marine Corps bikers tossed out, pronto.
Country singer John Michael Montgomery's cousin Troy is a friend of Rebel Pride. He hosted a little wine and cheese party at his RV, serving his own homemade strawberry wine.
There are differences at Bike Week between your local orthodontist who buys a motorcycle and the "real deal". I was introduced to a Florida former M/C member who called himself "Dragon". Dragon has a heroic background as a young man that he doesn't like to talk about. These days, he divides his time between being an electrician and his own biker activities. In harder times, he was a strip club bouncer and member of a "club". However, he went on his own after he became out of work and the club became antsy for annual dues. Dragon didn't think that was very "brother-like," so he ditched them. Simple as that. Dragon readily admits to being a hothead. He is an expert at Tai Kwon Do and says that the real bikers keep to themselves and hangout at the Iron Horse. Dragon says that he has a page at www.myspace.com, "Fun Runners Motorcycle Club," but I couldn't find it. He is the brawny lad standing to my right in the photo.
There were many shops up and down Main Street that catered to bikers: $99leather jackets, T-shirts, tattoos (I got an airbrushed one), etc., but it's my understanding that they fold up shop after the festivities. Before your cross over the bridge into Daytona Beach, the Daytona Raceway (where the Daytona 500 takes place), there are all kinds of bike events and professional gear sales booths. Although you see many types of bikes, Harley-Davidson is by far the most popular.