From scooters to ski pants, from white lipstick to winkle pickers, STARK RAVING MOD! is a celebration of the 60s-revival Mod subculture in 1980s Australia.

Posted: April 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 1 Comment »


by Ted Keating

The third night, between bands, a few of us were hanging outside Macy’s. It was hot inside and I needed some fresh air, so checking out the line of scooters was an obvious as the bar was busy. A hotted up red 2-door pulled up….maybe a Charger or Pontiac. Anyway the two blokes started with some abuse. I laugh now thinking how original it was – “Mods suck”….”Poofters” blah blah blah. Nobody said anything to them but when one walked up to a scooter and yelled “Vespas suck” I couldn’t resist telling him to fuck off and then kicking the car’s rear bumper…or was it a tail light? Either way there was no damage and they sped off. I felt proud standing up to them and I copped a few pats on the back from some of the older Mods.

This all changed a short time later when a car of the same description returned and a Molotov was lobbed at the scooters. Scoop Dettre jumped into the fire and saved a few from being toast…suffering nasty burns in the process. I felt the glaring eyes and then the accusations started that it was all my fault.

I went for a walk and in a rage I kicked a pile of milk crates onto the road….not seeing the passing cop car! Shit! Now I had 2 cops on my case wanting my details…the Mods appeared from everywhere and started paying out on them. Solidarity restored.


On the Sunday night the Sets played their last gig of the tour in Collingwood. They played well but the mood of the crowd seemed flat compared to the previous night. By that night many of the Mods hadn’t slept in days and some people were getting a bit snarly. That last night of the Invasion didn’t go down well. A division started early in the evening when some Mods blamed others for reacting to abuse from some drive-by hoons, who had later retaliated with a fire-bomb.

After the gig, the Sets threw a party at an abandoned, two-level warehouse somewhere in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The band generously blew all its gig money on numerous slabs of beer for this last-night bash. The party kicked off OK with 60s and 80s Mod canned music. Many of the Mods let themselves go with aggressive dancing. The party soon took a turn and became a bit of a drunken swill. One of the Sets’ road crew, Ashley, started dancing recklessly on a balcony and was told sternly by others to “get down”. This single small event, the commotion outside Macy’s and some rumblings from the Sets’ road crew seemed to be the catalysts that snowballed into wider issues of resentment. Beer talks and things got heated with various opinions about the direction of the Mod scene being voiced. Some people felt the scene was too narrow and hierarchical and aired their frustrations, whether real or imaginary. As Sunday night turned into early morning, the enthusiasm of the weekend fell away into confusion, upset and blame games. It was a downer of a way to end such a fun weekend. On its return to Sydney the Mod scene soon fragmented with various factions finding other bands to follow and new watering holes and clubs.

It could be said that Easter 81 was the peak of the Australian 80s Mod scene. Whatever the case, after that crazy long weekend the Sydney Mods found and went in new, wider directions. But no-one who took part will ever forget the feeling of intense camaraderie, enthusiasm and raw energy that was the Melbourne Invasion Experience.

“Scooters, cappuccinos, pills, alcohol. Aggression, dancing and very little else. No time to revive or relax – which made it just about the fastest/happiest weekend I can remember. Was it 3 days or 3 weeks? Who cares? Melbourne was a drink and you get drunk when you’re young.”

Sept Jours, 1981

Posted: April 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 2 Comments »


The Crystal Ballroom was in the heart of St Kilda. Once an old-style ballroom, after the punk era it became a kind of Melburnian CBGBs with all the top bands of the time playing there from The Birthday Party and The Go Betweens to The Cure and XTC.

On the Saturday night the Mods arrived at the Crystal Ballroom around 8, getting there anyway, anyhow…some on scooters others by tram. The night was advertised as a “Mod Night Spectacular” and that’s just what it was…wall to wall Mods…Mods as far as the eye could see. And they weren’t there to hang at the bar and chat, or to lean against the wall and look cool, they were there to D-A-N-C-E.

Melbourne Mod band the Little Murders kicked off the night. Their polished sound and sharp look – shirts with arrows (specially designed for the night) did Melbourne proud. Lead singer Rob Griffiths couldn’t help but stand out in his (now legendary) Union Jacket.

Up next the spotlight was on Division 4 who let loose to a sea of sweaty Mods. With the appearance of the first of the Sussex regular bands, the excitement and frantic dancing started to build and the stage diving and crowd surfing began. An enormous phased light-spectrum banner logo (reminiscent of a 70s British Paints logo) for Division 4 , made for the band by Steve Dettre (possibly), made a dramatic backdrop for their performance on stage that night.*

The final band of the night, and the main event, was the Sets. As Gary launched into “Party Time” the crowd went wild, jumping, lurching, sweating, diving and surfing. As well as the official Sets go-go dancers, Glyn and Belinda, Mods kept jumping on stage to dance then jumping back into the crowd. Don even did an Iggy Pop and jumped into the crowd and became part of it for a while. Various Mods were hoisted in the air in the middle of the seething crowd, hoping to be let down gently to the ground but often landing on their heads with desert-booted feet flailing in the air (those are Johnny Ball’s desert boots in the photo).

For the climax the Sets played “My Generation”. Andy had the plan of setting his guitar alight and smashing it. The Ballroom staff weren’t too keen on this but Gary assured them that it was all ok and it would be a “controlled explosion” as Andy was an industrial chemist…of course Andy hadn’t ever handled the chemicals before, so it was in the lap of the gods. A spectacular burning of the guitar with lighter fluid and Woodstock-like smashing of the guitar ensued with the guitar being thrown into the crowd. The crowd went wild, grabbing at the pieces of the guitar. A Melbourne Mod got on stage and led the chant “We are the Mods, we are the Mods, we are, we are, we are the Mods!”…it was straight out of Quadrophenia. The night was the zenith of the early Australian Mod scene and the highlight of the Invasion.

(*Thanks to Martin Mahony.)

Posted: April 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »


Saturday morning was dedicated to recovery from the Friday night – some didn’t bother going to sleep at all. By mid-morning the Invasion was hanging in the carpark. There had been talk of a possible scooter run, and when it was discovered by the interstate Mods that there was a Brighton in Melbourne, this seemed the fitting destination.

There were many more Mods than there were scooters. People doubled as much as they could, but those who didn’t have scooters felt left out. After some last-minute tinkering we saddled up and were on the road by midday. A convoy of scooters (mostly Lambretta GPs) made its way to St Kilda and rode around the bay of Melbourne till we hit Brighton – it was probably the first run of Italian motor scooters in Melbourne since the 1960s!

During the Melbourne trip the movie Sawdust Caesars was being filmed. Two Sydney art school mods (Bill Posters and Benjamin Evison) had borrowed a Super 8 camera from art school and, with an $80 budget of Kodachrome film, set out to capture the Invasion. A lot of the movie was filmed from the back of a Lambretta! Lots of posing was done on the scooter run…riding across all lanes, and riding along the pier towards the camera.

On our return to the hotel, the hours of preparation began for the big night ahead – Little Murders, Division 4 and The Sets at the Crystal Ballroom, the highlight of the Invasion.

Posted: April 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »


The Jump Club was a regular haunt for Melbourne Mods. Little Murders played there often and it was a venue that generally attracted a small but loyal in-crowd. But this Friday night the Jump Club was to become a virtual sea of Mods, where The Sets would play their Melbourne debut gig, supporting Paul Kelly and the Dots.

The Jump Club regulars didn’t know what hit them. For outsiders looking on, it might have seemed like a Mod rent-a-crowd had just showed up. The Mods wanted to let loose that night after being cooped up in the Magic Bus for 12 hours and the drive up from Adelaide, so there was plenty of frantic dancing and crowd surfing. The official Sets go-go dancers, Glyn and Belinda, set the pace.

After the Sets finished playing, word went around that there was a party on. The Invasion made its way there by scooter and whatever means possible. The party was at a large stately house in a leafy suburb, Camberwell – it looked like Mum and Dad had gone away for the weekend. The loungeroom was filled with dancing suits and mini-skirts, all trying to outdo each other with their dance moves. It was an enthusiastic kick start to the big weekend ahead.

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 1 Comment »


That Good Friday morning after checking in at the hotel, the Sydney Mods soon hooked up with the Melbourne and Adelaide Mods who had also arrived. The interstate Mods were excited by the swelling ranks, as they’d never seen such numbers before. The hotel was like a beehive, with the constant buzzing of scooters coming and going non-stop throughout the weekend.

The Great Southern hotel had a drab, old-style café–takeaway on street level. It was 50–60s old Melbourne and had wall-fitted mini juke boxes at the end of each table booth. The Invasion fed on cappuccinos, burgers and toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches that long weekend.

The hotel was right in Melbourne’s CBD and being a Good Friday and a long weekend, the city was a ghost town. The Mods drifted off in groups and went exploring. The lights were on but no one was home that morning in Melbourne. Eventually the groups gravitated towards each other again and formed one big Mod Squad.

Meanwhile the Russell Street cops had noticed a large number of youths similarly dressed, wandering about the city, and were on the case. After watching us for a while and pulling over a number of Mods for questioning, they realised they had nothing on us so had to let us go. Anyway, who really felt like breaking the law at 11.30 in the morning.

Eventually returning back to the Great Southern, it seemed a better deal to hang out front in the carpark drinking, rather than returning to the dark, poky little hotel rooms. Out of boredom, or perhaps for the sake of Mod posterity, people began graffitiing the car park wall. The Magic Bus adjacent to the wall helped hide these dirty deeds from public view. The graffiti was scratchy, totally random schoolboy vandal stuff with a Mod twist.

But these daytime activities were just time-fillers. The real action was to begin that night at the Jump Club.

Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »


Martin Mahony

With their usual military-precision organisation Don and Gary Hosie had travelled to Melbourne earlier in the year to line up gigs and venue confirmations, as well as sorting out cheap accommodation for the majority of the Sydney contingent at the Great Southern Hotel in central Melbourne.

The planned itinerary for the 1981 Easter long weekend in Melbourne :

Thursday April 16 Hornsby Coach Tours pick up mods in Sydney at Central Railway 8:00PM to go to Melbourne (headed off about 8:30PM).

Good Friday April 17 Magic Bus arrives Melbourne around 9:30AM. The Sets perform at Jump Club that night, supporting Paul Kelly and the Dots.

Saturday April 18 Little Murders, Division 4 and Sets at the Crystal Ballroom.

Easter Sunday April 19 The Sets and the Models at Macey’s.

Easter Monday April 20, 9:45AM The ‘Magic Bus’ departs Melbourne and returns to Sydney around 10:30PM.

On arrival outside the Great Southern Hotel in central Melbourne, everyone quickly checked in an unloaded their gear in the appallingly cramped rooms. No one complained as they were paying doss-house prices (around $8 a single, $14 a double) for the accommodation, but I distinctly recall not having an option to share my room because I found I could either: a) Open the wardrobe door, or b) Open the room door, but not both at the same time as there was insufficient space to swing both doors open without hitting the bed.

Everyone was intent on only using the hotel as a crash-pad and focused on the days and nights of escapades ahead.

Good Friday in the centre of Melbourne in 1981 was not exactly pulsating, so many of the Sydney crowd congregated in a New-York style alleyway (complete with West Side Story external metal fire escapes) behind the hotel that served as a private workshop for those tinkering with their Lambrettas and Vespas shipped down by rail during the week.

Posted: February 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »


Getting down to Melbourne that long weekend was a case of anyway, anyhow and planes, trains and automobiles. But most Sydney Mods jumped on board the chartered Hornsby coach, nicknamed the “Magic Bus”, which left Central on Thursday night.

The mood was a mix of excitement and “Here we go! Here we go!”. Because we were all so young, the tour had an air of a school excursion – with fishtail parkas as our school uniform, but no teachers.

The Mod passengers soon settled down after an hour or three. Some were drinking beer, smoking away and clowning around up the back of the bus, others just quietly getting blotto in their seats with a bottle of Scotch.

One of the drawbacks of a small scene is that you have to constantly see your exes, and some Mods looked a tad uncomfortable being trapped in a bus for 12 hours watching their exes cavorting with their new love interests.

Someone brought a clunky but tinny cassette player and played music till the battery finally went flat. But most people by the early morning were trying to get some shut-eye on that overnight trip down the old Hume. They had it sussed and were saving their energy for the wild weekend ahead.

Posted: February 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 4 Comments »


This was one of the flyers for the Melbourne Mod Invasion that first appeared in the top bar of the Sussex in early 81. Among the promised highlights for the trip were: “3 gigs in 4 days, parties, scooter runs, girls, girls, crows*, girls, crows, crows, crows”. This along with the flyer pic of the Brighton riots would have the Sydney Mods believe they were going to “fight them on the beaches” rather than follow their fave bands on tour over an Easter holiday weekend.

A buzz of excitement started to grow, and further promos started to pop up in Mod fanzines like Sept Jours and Shake n Shout.

Members of The Sets, SnS and their cohorts organised and promoted this event, which would include a hired coach to take people down there, super cheap accommodation deals and info on shipping scooters.

An armada of twelve or more scooters were to be railed to Melbourne for the Invasion. Memories are hazy, but I think among these were: Skid, Bones, Wilbur, Bill Posters, Don Hosie, Kerry, Glyn, Brett Newbury, Steve Dettre and Suave Jimmy. We organised to ride down during the week to Darling Harbour to load the scooters onto the train. Back then Darling Harbour, which was directly opposite the Sussex at the bottom of Liverpool Street, was a large rail goods yard, still owned by State Rail. It was chaotic trying to find the right freight carriage, but finally the scooters were loaded and sandwiched into the carriage. That was the last we would see of them until Good Friday at Spencer Street Station.

Almost the entire Sydney Mod scene planned on making it to Melbourne that long weekend. It was the Happening event of the year and not to be missed. Be there or be square.

*Crows = punks

PS: If anyone has any other memories to share about the lead-up to the event, please feel free to leave a comment.

Next: The Magic Bus

Posted: February 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 1 Comment »


Stay tuned to this website as, over the following weeks, the Stark Raving Mod team bring you the story of the Melbourne Mod Invasion 1981!

Then come and celebrate the 30th anniversary at Sonar, Luna Park, on 16 April 2011, where The Sets and Division 4, the bands who were the soundtrack to The Invasion, will let loose with a spectacular gig. We are thrilled to announce that the MCs for the night are none other than the two fabulous frontmen for The Allniters, Brett Pattinson and Pete Travis, and the incomparable Crimplenes will be DJs for the event.

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 1 Comment »





Date: 16 April 2011

Venue: Sonar at Luna Park, Sydney

7.30 pm till 1 am

CDs, t-shirts, Stark Raving Mod! books and merchandise will be for sale on the night

Tickets available through Moshtix: