There’s no denying it: the world of motorcycles, and especially the world of customised bikes, has often fostered rivalry. Each brand inspires the creation of complete communities, with their own rules, alliances and adversaries. But the great thing is that there’s something that unites everyone, regardless of affiliation: and that’s the look, the predilection for a style that best sums up the core value shared by everybody here at Wheels & Waves with no exception. Being passionate about freedom.
And that’s why style is never a superficial matter. A “look” is, after all, a composition of several minor decisions, motivated by the desire to stand out, of course, but also by the desire to make a statement.
When we think of the word “style”, it’s only natural to think of something elegant and balanced. But a style can still be as unique and original as a radically customised bike and can catch our attention the same way a “burn out” at full speed rings in our ears.
By choosing a style, it’s true, one can feel part of a group. But wouldn’t it be great if a style were both recognisable at a glance and, at the same time, ever changing, always personalised… always “custom”?
That’s the style of motorcycle enthusiasts: it’s always inventing, always searching for some detail that makes a statement about who you are. No strings, no written rules, it’s all in the name of freedom.
All it takes is one glance at the Village during the 2017 Wheels & Waves festival to get the feeling that this is a catwalk of sorts, a very particular showroom open around the clock, full of colours and surprising innovation.
There are the classics, of course, like tattoos on every part of the body. Some bikers opt for minimalist, almost deliberately “graceless” tattoos. Others clearly rely on refined artists, who are capable of creating impressive works.
And, because it’s impossible to think of bikes without thinking of the vast distances and infinite horizons of the heart of America, one can hardly miss the many personal takes on the rockabilly look around here, hair wax, jeans and black military boots. Eateries in Biarritz offer their take on the American “diner” complete with the chrome bar top, pastel colours and jukebox playing rock’n’roll.
And, since any bike here is, by definition, a custom bike – if it’s homemade all the better – a mechanic’s work clothes double as a fashion icon this year: for men and for women. Perhaps with a pair of oil-spattered gloves sticking out the back pocket. Plus some unexpected detail, like a pair of heels for her or classy shades for him, which shows that, at least for today, these are more than just work clothes.
Did we forget to mention leather? Of course not. Leather, especially black worn leather, continues to be a “must”, for the authentic biker: the one who travels thousands of kilometres every year on his bike and who eyes with suspicion any compromise in favour of all that is “cute” but not strictly necessary.
The music all around
Music has always come with a certain look. A great movement, like “punk” for example, started with a few small boutiques in London experimenting with all that was new, with clothes even before music. One of punk’s iconic bands, The Clash, laced their music with social and political messages (in other words, it was “serious” music) and always underscored the importance of their “look” as a significant part of their art.
Music is everywhere here at Wheels & Waves. Even during the day, with small bands performing near the stands and adding a little more grit to their renditions of the hit songs of the moment. At the same time, to contribute to the cheerful chaos, loudspeakers play the highway classics, like “Born to be wild”.
After sunset, however, music takes on a whole new meaning: a stage at the entrance to the Village converts Wheels & Waves into a veritable music festival each evening, with legendary artists like Elliot Murphy: a shining star in American music, who through his guitar shares the experiences of those who continue to live on the frontier today.