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10 Hanging with the Clubs “Hey, look at this great bike over here,” I yell to one of the guys during our stop at a local repair shop to get parts. The bike, a yellow Honda V 4, gleaming with elegance and power, sits on its pads. “Shit! I thought you said you were going to show me a bike. I don’t see a bike,” remarks Detlef with disgust. “I thought you were going to show me a Harley.” The meeting room is in the basement of a garage. Bikes, tools, bike parts, and oddly mismatched chairs fill the cluttered space. As the garage doors open and close to admit new members, the air in the room shifts from the heavy odor of oil, gas, grease, and exhaust to the lighter smells of fog and city pollution. Fifty to sixty bikers meet here every third week of the month to plan runs and take care of business. Almost all are men. Some have long hair and beards; some are short-haired and very clean-shaven. A few have shaved heads. Some have small and strong tattoos; some have tattoos covering almost every part of their bodies. A few have visible body piercings and studs; many sport an earring. Strong muscular arms hunch out from leather vests, legs are covered with leather chaps, and heavy leather jackets hang off the backs of chairs. Most of the vests sport patches. While black is the color of the day, here and there a brown vest, chaps, and jacket can be seen. The leathers are old and worn. This is a riding club. Most of the men are big and wear a lot of hardware. Almost all have numerous tools hanging from their belts. They attach their knives to their belts and sport chains. The sounds of angry voices fill the space. Other voices rise to defuse the anger. There are factions. Some men gather in small groups at the entrance to the garage. The air around them holds a confusing mixture of smells—grease, exhaust, grass, cigarettes, and cigars. No one smokes downstairs around the bikes. The No Smoking signs are visible, the gas and oil fumes are heavy, and the fine for breaking this rule is expulsion for the night. 179 Cultural Analysis Downstairs, the anger defused, the men form into small groups and talk bikes. They discuss their plans for bike chopping, for painting, for customizing. Tables are pushed against the wall for the display of club patches. These are available for sale. Raffle and 50/50 tickets are sold. At the end of the meeting, half the money collected from the 50/ 50 will be awarded to some lucky ticket holder. The rest will go into the club treasury. After the 50/50, raffle prizes are presented. The director is in charge of providing the raffle prizes. Usually these are no more elaborate than Harley T-shirts, but sometimes they include belt buckles or bike parts. The men use Robert’s Rules of Order when planning runs, parties, and official events. Sometimes the rules of order prevent chaos. Sometimes not. The men are all ages. Most fly their colors. All the men are members. A few women in the room also wear club patches. They too are members. They are riders. All the other women come as passengers. They are ole ladies, wives, and girlfriends. Sometimes single women show up at the meetings. A few come alone, looking to meet bikers. From the viewpoint of the ole ladies, wives, and girlfriends, this is not a welcome sight. They pointedly ignore single women, refusing them seating and crowding them out of the bathrooms . Single women, potential threats, are always discouraged from returning. There are many kinds of turf and many ways of guarding it. Ole ladies, wives, and girlfriends guard not just their men, but their rights in the club, this HOG chapter. Women who ride have rights of membership through their own riding abilities. All riders can join. Ole ladies, wives, and girlfriends, those who passenger, however, have only quasi-rights. They gain their membership privileges through their men. They are packed. They can never join as full and equal members. If they two-up, cram themselves between the sissy bar and the rider, or cling precariously to the tiny backless pillion pad and the rider’s rump, they can gain a secondary, or associate, status. This gives them the right to hang around. That’s all. In terms...


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