Yesterday, I was at the annual Oldenburg Motorbike Show with my Dad.
My Dad’s the biker, I just tag along, so he’ll have someone to talk to and hang out with. Though I did see some neat stuff such as some very cool vintage motorcycles ranging from the stunning (a steampunky contraption of gleaming brass from 1921) to the absurd (a Vespa scooter with a mounted bazooka, which was someone’s idea of a military vehicle). Oddly enough, the military Vespa scooter was a postwar vehicle, since it looked totally like something Hitler or Mussolini would have cooked up to fight and completely fail to stop the advance of the allied troops. The stunt show was pretty neat, too, though the exhaust fumes were almost unbearable.
At the entrance to the parking lot of the exhibition hall, there was a small squad of policemen checking every car, looking for potential troublemakers. Probably because there had been rumours of a biker war that never materialized at the Oldenburg show last year and the police wanted to prevent a repeat performance. There has been a turf war between two rival biker gangs going on for a while now and the news outlets occasionally run a “OMG, evil criminal bikers” article on a slow news day, so the issue is at the forefront of some minds now. What is more, one of the biker gangs has had a booth at the Oldenburg Motorbike Show for years and they’ve never made any trouble that I know of. Most of the time, they just sit at their table, all seven of them, and chat among each other. For a long time, I didn’t even know that those guys were supposed to be criminals.
All that police effort for the sake of seven bikers seemed rather futile, because if criminal biker gangs wanted to use the Oldenburg Motorbike Show as an excuse for a fight, they’d meet somewhere off the grounds and no one could stop them. Never mind that if you know that your club jacket is going to get you banned (the rival gang is automatically banned to prevent fights from breaking out on the exhibition grounds, which might endanger bystanders), you’ll just come to the show in regular garb and put on the jacket in the restroom. Though I didn’t see anyone of the main rival gang, just some members of another gang suspected to be problematic.
Besides, some 99 percent of the attendees were perfectly harmless motorcycle enthusiasts. There were lots of families with young kids and sadly the predictable gender divide. Little boys proudly sit on motorcycles they’re way too young to drive, while little girls stand around and fervently wish they were somewhere else. I always find that depressing, why do Dads not let their little girls sit on the bikes for once? And some of the little girls are interested. I spotted a Dad with twin girls, about five years old, who constantly pointed out and remarked upon various bikes. Of course, they were mainly attracted by bright colours, but it’s a start.
At the Harley-Davidson booth (where else?), they had a woman in a leather bikini who was apparently paid to pose scantily clad on motorcycles. Absolutely no one paid any attention to her. The only reaction was some mild annoyance when she was posing on a bike someone wanted to look at. Only one person was utterly fascinated by the leather-clad woman and that person was a girl of approximately fifteen, who just couldn’t take her eyes of the woman. Somehow, I suspect that’s not the target audience they were planning to attract.