While there were many ideals and over-riding philosophies that are associated with mod culture, one of the most pervading ones is the focus on clean living. In comparison to other youth groups of the time, mods were neatly turned out and put a lot of thought and attention into their clothing and fashion sense. This was one element of their clean living policy but it also extended into other areas of mod life.
There was less of a focus on alcohol and getting drunk in mod culture than there was with the rockers or in the local youth community focus. This is not to say that mods didn’t drink alcohol, of course they did but as a collective group there was not the same focus and need to get intoxicated in this fashion. It was interesting to note that one of the most frequently visited social hang-outs for the mod generation was the coffee shop.
Some would argue that this was because there was an opportunity to socialise in large numbers while listening to the music of the day but it would also be fair to say that the later opening hours of these coffee shops was a great attraction too.
Coffee shops provided the perfect setting for mod culture
Drinking soft drinks and coffee was par for the course in these venues and it wasn’t as if having no alcohol was causing mods to miss out on any fun. Given the opportunity to relax in a comfortable environment with their peers while listening to good music and for longer hours, the absence of alcohol from these venues was a minor issue with the positives far outweighing any negatives that may have arisen from using these venues.
It should be remembered that amphetamines were not illegal at this time in the United Kingdom, which fitted in perfectly with the ideal of clean living. It may be hard to look back at a different time while the current laws and regulations regarding drug use are in your mind but when the early mods were taking amphetamines, they were not doing anything illegal.
There was the opinion that amphetamine brought about alertness and stimulus to awake for longer, which was a different impact compared to the other drugs on the market at the time. Even alcohol, while perfectly legal for those over the age of 18, brought about a state of intoxication, which was not apparent in the use of amphetamine.
Amphetamines allowed mods to have more fun
Mods wanted to make the most of the weekend and time away from work so the use of amphetamines allowed them to maximise the amount of time they had available to socialise with others. Time spent sleeping could be better spent in the company of friends, or dancing into the small hours so the use of amphetamines allowed mods to stay awake and alert for a lot longer.
Given that mods travelled home from these late night coffee shops and clubs on their scooters, being awake and alert was a great bonus for the mods. While drink-driving was not viewed in the same manner as it is today, it certainly posed more danger and difficulties when driving in comparison to driving while on amphetamines.
Like many of the fashion choices or even the use of a scooter, the benefits of amphetamine use dovetailed perfectly with the lifestyle and culture of the mod movement.
Most youth movements, and certainly those movements that were closely associated with a musical genre, could be closely connected to a drug of choice. While the swinging 60s were partly fuelled by the emergence of mod culture and the fashion styles, many people consider the hippie movement to be as much a part of this period as the mod movement. The hippie and free-love movement was one which was heavily dependent on drugs, whether it was cannabis or LSD, or both! With The Beatles and other top musical acts of the time making it very clear that they were using these drugs, there can be no surprise in the links that were being forged between movements and drug use.
Even in the decades since then, music and youth movements have gone hand in hand with illegal substances and drugs. Punk saw a rise in all manner of drug use, including solvent abuse while the emergence of dance culture has been consistent with the rise of drug use like ecstasy.
There is no doubting that the impact that amphetamines had on mod culture was as significant as fishtail parka coats, fine clothing and the drudgery of the working week.
More articles on mod culture…….