With the Wintersun Festival just around the corner I thought it an ideal opportunity to examine the participants of this impending disaster.
For many, myself included, attending a modern hot rod show is akin to entering a carnival of motorised derangement. The original intent of hot rodders was to modify their vehicles to improve performance and appearance. Sadly this fundamental philosophy has vanished from the garages that dot Australia's suburban wastelands. Style and design are not concepts which rest easily with the modern Australian hot rodder.
Shows are littered with row upon row of automotive attrocities. Most are deplorable attempts to replicate an automotive legacy about which the owners have neither an understanding nor affinity. The old Australian adage of "near enough is good enough" rings true at every one of these circuses.
The vehicles, generally of depression era and pre war design, are modified using a haphazard selection of elements. Velour seating of indeterminate Japanese origin and wheels better suited to a Korean family saloon are assembled into a confused package that would leave the original designers reeling in horror.
The modern hot rod enthusiast imagines him or herself to be a rebellious fringe dweller and many believe the addition of various skulls, crosses and pinstriping adds to their delusional outlaw image. Groups of ridiculously attired adults, many approaching senility, infest these gatherings with their misguided preconceptions as to the origins of the culture that inspires their ludicrous attention seeking behaviour. Add to this, agonizing displays of geriatric dancing, dreadful cover bands, musically illiterate DJ's and you have an event that embraces the entire spectrum of mediocrity.
Legions of nondescript suburbanites, anxious to escape their mundane existence, happily don the gaudy costumery of the dance clubs. Finally they are afforded an opportunity to parade themselves, like cheap sideshow attractions, to an appreciative audience of likeminded simpletons. Many of these unfortunates suffer from a form of pyromania which manifests itself in a compulsion to dress in a full ensemble of flamed garments, giving the appearance of a dancing bonfire. Some even find it necessary to dress their young children and grandchildren in matching schmaltz.
The dance clubs are determined to eliminate any spontinaety or originality whatsoever with their regimented routines and mechanical gyrations. That, coupled with their tedious gesturing and ridiculous outfits is enough to make me contemplate mass homicide.
The following is an excerpt from the Happy Days website. It should give a clear indication of the general mental instability of the participants.
" The workshop is intended for intermediate to advanced Rockabilly dancers (a minimum of one year of experience, preferably two years). Participants should be familiar with the requirements of the style, including, but not limited to, the Man’s movement anti-clockwise around the lady, the ladies hip lift and full rotation, all basic leads and blocks; movement and positioning into leads and blocks, Spins vs. Turns – Who, When, How and Push Pulls – Entry and Exits.......
According to how well dancers progress through the content, the instructors will teach up to four figures during the workshop These will include the “wave” (Single / double / back and forth), the “tray”, the “tunnel” (incorporating “Rocks”) and the “Head Chopper”. It is not expected that all figures taught will be retained by participants following the workshop."
What the hell is the "Head Chopper" ? No wonder they wont be able to remember anything if they've been practicing the "Head Chopper". Who came up with this ridiculous terminology for a musical form that barely lasted two years. I can't imagine that teenagers in the southern states of the USA, where this music was invented, could even be bothered coming up with pathetic terms for crap dance moves. For me this really sums up the stupidity of the entire festival.
The question that sticks in my mind is how did this horde of plebeians appropriate the trappings of an underground subculture and dilute it into the homogenous shambles it has now become ?