I get a lot of emails from readers who ask me how the 90’s was for clubs compared to what it is like today. Most of those who ask that question are anywhere from 21 to 26 years old, that’s when it hits me, some of those who ask these questions were not even born yet, or if they were, they were only toddlers. That’s when the realization hits, “I’m getting up there in age lol”.
The answers I always give them have to deal with the way independents were as well as how clubs use to be. I always remind them that I could only talk about how clubs were in the Chicagoland Area because back then communication wasn’t all that good. Afterall, we didn’t have internet when I first got going in the clubs or cell phones for that matter. We had beepers, someone beeped you and then you would have to pull over and use a damned pay phone. The worst thing about beepers? When someone would put 911 in the message, when you called them back it turned into a big nothing.
The Nineties were a very tough time for clubs in Chicago. I was apart of a mostly Latino club. It was mixed heavily towards Latino and then you had some that were Whites. I started prospecting in 92 and got patched in the middle of 93. Chicago back then was a heavily Black and White town. Support clubs really didn’t exist back then in Chicago like they do today. Our club never wore the SYLO patch, even though we would party with the Black and White. Mostly when Skid 1%er was the Northside Chapter Boss. I can still remember to this day, they had a rattlesnake in an aquarium. The clubhouse on Division was in pretty bad shape back then, nothing like some of the clubhouses today. Actually, they sold that clubhouse in 2017, was sad to see it go, was an icon on Division street for decades.
93, the year I got full patched, that was a tough year in Chicago. That’s when word started getting around on the streets that the Henchman wanted to patch to 81. In 94 That’s when the “Chicago War” broke out between the AOA and 81. The Hells Henchman was in the process of becoming Hells Angels. That was huge to do in Chicago because the AOA would never allow red and white in the Chicago City limits. One of the biggest bombings in USA history, only eclipsed by the Oklahoma City Bombing took place in front of the Hell Henchman clubhouse on Grand Ave. Full out war broke loose with killings across the state, AOA under “Taco Bowman” was something fierce back then.
The club I was in, though we partied with AOA, never had any part of the fight. We would watch for 81 patches, which at the time, none could be found because of the war going on, many didn’t wear colors alone in public. What did happen, the cops, especially the feds were thick during that time. Local cops would pull anyone over with a patch on, harass the shit out of them, and two hours later let you go. I cannot remember how many damn times that happened to me in 94 and 95.
I have to explain to a lot of those that write asking questions concerning that era, we were lucky enough to learn everything from the guys who played the game in the 60’s and 70’s. Shit was a hell of a lot tougher back then, there were not that many clubs as there is today. The time and effort that needed to be put into the club was a full-time job. Being in a club back then was very physical. From the moment you put on a prospect patch, you would be lucky not to be walking around with two dotted eyes, mostly because that’s how things were handled if I prospect screwed up. There was a minimum of a year to prospect, not including the hang around period. To even get to the hang around period you had to have grown up with someone in the club, apart of a street gang and proved your worth, or you had to be blood-related to someone in the club. It wasn’t easy back then, at least the club I was in.
Clubs now, they will let just about anyone in. I believe this is why you will find so many informants or rats within the ranks of most clubs. The membership process is just too easy. Crap, most clubs that started up after 2004 use the internet to recruit, to busy worrying about opening up chapters everywhere, trying to act like the big boys. In the end, most of these clubs fail, they fail because they don’t build a core, don’t take the time to build the home chapter into something strong, this is why they will always fail. Most of this clubs let every Tom, Dick, and Harry in for numbers, they will 9 times out of 10 explode under the weight of a false brotherhood.
I left my club in 98, here is my club tattoo dated, clubs still to this day do this when someone leaves in good standing. Our club center patch was a winged skull, two crossbones coming out of the mouth. I left the club because of the direction it was going. The officers at the time wanted to start chapters in the joints around the country. I wanted to be apart of a Motorcycle Club and when they started doing that, it became a gang. I already had my fill of gang life when I was younger and having kids at the time, it wasn’t for me. A year or two later the M/C ceased to exist, turning into a full-blown street/prison gang. I would ride independent until 2002 when I joined the BPMC.
The best time I ever had as an independent was right after I left the club. Back in the 90’s, rallies were not all dominated by a large number of politically correct RUBS. The rallies were kick-ass parties still, crap, even the Easy Rider rodeo that use to be held in Morris back then was a hell of a party. The expression “Gas, Grass and Ass” was alive and well. Broads use to run around naked, tits flopping in the wind, it was a hell of a time. Now, you would hardly catch me at any of the rallies unless I have to cover one for Insane Throttle.
Fast forward to 2018. To say things have changed is an understatement. Things that happen today would have some very bad consequences back then, especially the club stuff. The protocol was very much alive and well back then. If it wasn’t followed, shit could hit the fan pretty fast. Now, there are so many clubs starting up, it’s hard to keep track of all of them. What’s even worse, when you do find these clubs, most of them are affiliated with cop clubs, the so-called ” Law Abiding Clubs”. In other words, they used that bullshit to get around protocol. These clubs are the ones who sold out for protection because they didn’t have the balls to do things the right way. I always harken back to a statement that a reader made on one of the article comment sections a while back. ” If I’m at the clubhouse, a fellow member is a cop, do I light the joint up, do the line, or will he bust me”? Think about that one for a minute, the irony of the situation.
I think this and a lot of other changes that motorcycle clubs have undergone, lead me to support riding clubs more nowadays. The whole M/C landscape has changed, the politics are thicker, the brotherhood of motorcycle clubs took on a lot different definition then it once was, and the people within clubs are way different now then they use to be. Most people in clubs nowadays look at it as a hobby instead of a lifestyle. It used to be the M/C was your entire life, your M/C was your second family, almost all your time was split between work and being with your brothers. That isn’t the case anymore. The first sign of trouble people jet, leave those who they called “Brothers” to fend for themselves.
At least with riding clubs, you’re there to party and ride, no commitments, no bullshit on who or what you truly are. You’re not pretending to be something that you are not, unlike a lot of these “Law Abiding Clubs” you’re just there to ride with a group of like-minded people and go home at the end of the day with no strings attached.
So, a lot has changed since the 90’s, things are more politically correct today (I never thought that would be the case being a biker, but it is the generation of RUBS taking over now so what do you expect?) the people are not of the same mindset as they once were. The internet has taken a huge chunk out of the scene and interjected ideas that no one would’ve even considered back then. I actually call this generation of biker “Internet RUB Warriors or Internet Wild Hogs M/C“. Every idiot with a computer can interject what they think club life should be, even if they are not apart of one themselves.
The internet is the tool to spread the gossip and before you know it, millions start buying into the crap these people are spilling and the game starts to change. It’s a huge domino effect, one person starts with something, then that idea finds sheep and it starts moving down the line where eventually it becomes gospel on the streets.
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