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 | 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.)

  • rob griffiths

    actually The Moodists kicked off the night up stairs..this was followed by Division 4 downstairs then Little Murders upstairs followed by The Sets downstairs
    got to get it right arianna!

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