Florida contains a city that is, for many, the Mecca of American motorcycling: Daytona. And yet the state's most vibrant, crazed, burgeoning city, Miami, a city that is by all measures of science and quantifiable fact a far better city than Daytona, has almost no motorcycle culture to speak of. Why is this? We have ideal weather. We have long roads that flow through tunnels of oaks and banyans and lead to vast stretches of smooth asphalt pathways cutting through the Everglades. We have a diverse population of drivers, many of who like to bob and weave through traffic at psychotic speeds, and who doubly enjoy the opportunity to do so as loudly as possible. Have you ever heard what a Harley-Davidson 74 with straight pipes sounds like tearing ass down the center line? Miami seems like it would be the perfect place for a thriving motorcycle community and yet, there is no such community to be found.
But there are people trying to change that deficiency in this city's status quo. People like Rodrigro Rey del Castillo and Danny Alva at 76hundred Motorcycles or Matt Atkatz, Alex Mackenzie, and Aaron Willard of Metal 305. Atkatz, Mackenzie, and Willard drummed up a thundering mass of motorcycles and their riders last year with the first ever Black Sunday annual swap meet, a sort of farmers' market for oil and iron. In two weeks, they'll be doing it again -- and Miami's yearly grand bazaar of steel and grease and vintage speed will arise anew.
When Atkatz and Metal 305 co-founder-to-be Alex Mackenzie started hanging out and riding together, they recognized "hey, we know there's lots of people - there's 76hundred, there's John Long, there's Rusty Jalopy up in Fort Lauderdale -- there's lots of pockets of people doing cool stuff, but nobody's getting everybody together. And so we kind of just said, 'Let's make a bike night,'" Atkatz says. Within two months, the number of riders and their motorcycles coming out to bike night had the corner outside of Wood Tavern looking like the local Hell's Angels headquarters, which would be fitting since the illustrious horde often carved their chapter headquarters out of one bar or another.
But Metal 305, which Atkatz and Mackenzie started together, along with Aaron Willard, isn't anything like the Angels, and that's an damned important distinction to make. "We're not a gang," Atkatz exclaimed, "this isn't a motorcycle club, you don't pay dues or become a member. You hang out with us and ride with us - it's more of a community than it is a motorcycle organization."
From Left to Right: Matt Atkatz, Alex Mackenzie, Aaron Willard
Photo by: David Martin
According to Atkatz, Mackenzie eventually suggested that they "take this a step further - why don't we put on a swap meet?" As Atkatz recalled, "We were all like, that's fucking awesome, cause there are not swap meets anymore down here. In the States, they're starting to make a comeback, but it's really a vintage thing, an idea from the 70s - a bunch of dudes with their bikes and their parts, swapping and selling their stuff. They'd just get together and barter and trade and exchange wrenching tips and have a fun day hanging out."
"We know the guys over at Churchill's pretty well," Atkatz continued, "especially Nicky, the manager there, who we also know from Donkey Barn. They're really into metal over there. So we decided to reach out to Nicky at Donkey Barn and we came up with the idea to do the first Black Sunday last year. The concept was to follow up Black Friday, the big shopping day for consumer electronics, with Black Sunday, which would be vintage motorcycle day."
And so, the first Black Sunday would come to pass at Churchill's on the weekend after Thanksgiving, which the crew Metal 305 expected to draw a fair crowd, perhaps even boast a decent showing of riders like they'd grown to see at bike night in Wynwood. It would turn out that they'd slightly underestimated the appeal.
"The turnout last year was just bananas!" said Atkatz, "...and everybody told us 'Oh - you have to do this quarterly!' and we told them how much work it is to put this together even once. So here we are a year later and we're two weeks away. I think we have about 25 vendors confirmed and the last week, people just pile on and then the day of, even more people just show up. It's sort of improvisational - it just kind of happens. The one rule that we have is: if you say you're going to come, come, and if you register, show up so that we can plan for the day."
Photo by: Valentin Ivar Herman Mellström
For Atkatz and Mackenzie, the first Black Sunday made it very clear that there was indeed a community that could coalesce out of all the cliques and pockets of riders roaming around Miami, a mass of disjointed platoons that could in fact ride in the same regiment given the opportune circumstances. Metal 305 had begun to figure out how to construct those circumstances and start connecting a community.
"As for this year, it's going to be a lot like last year, only bigger," Atkatz explained. "We've got more vendors, we've got more bands this year. Last year we went from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m., and this year we're going to go from 11 til 6, and then we're having an after-party that'll go from 6 til late. Churchill's moved their old double-decker bus that's next to the pub from the back of the lot to the front and painted it and made the top into a DJ booth. So during the day, we'll have DJs spinning oldies, classics, 60s, 70s stuff and then from 6 on everybody's going inside and watch the live bands on stage. We'll also have a couple of new food trucks this time around."
They'll also have a tattoo station in the back, with $50 for any tattoo you want as long as it's motorcycle oriented. The idea came about as a fundraiser for Esteban Dalpra, the Hell Bound City tattooist who was involved in a hit and run on his bike in October and is still recovering.
"Motorcycle riders can be very tribal," Atkatz noted. "Everybody has their allegiances, who they like and who they don't like. There's the Harley guys that are into this, there's the vintage guys that are into that, there's the sport bike guys who are only into riding in-line fours - and our thing is we just want to bring the motorcycle community together around the love of motorcycles. We're riders first, you know? We just want to focus on the fact that we all love old metal and we don't care where it comes from, whether it's Italian or English or German or Japanese or whatever - that's cool."
Atkatz says groups like 76hundred Motorcycles and his own Metal 305 are not only changing the way motorcycle communities exist in Miami - they're changing the way motorcycle communities exist, period. Metal 305 and collectives like it are pushing motorcycles beyond the imagery and the stereotypes that have been associated with them since Marlon Brando zipped his leathers on the set of The Wild One. They're redefining what it means to "ride together," taking what was once simply seen as the violent, rambling horde and creating a communal sense of fraternity that can exist without stigma.
"I think it's really cool to see that our generation is getting involved in motorcycles in a different way," Atkatz remarked before pausing for a moment and laughing. "You know, my parents always ask me, 'Do you run a motorcycle gang?' because our parents grew up in the 60s with the Hell's Angels and shit like that. What's most important to us is loving the bikes and wanting to learn and get involved. At the core, it's all about liking the same thing: riding bikes, going fast."
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Black Sunday 2 will get started with the swap meet at 11 a.m. at Churchill's Pub (5501 NE 2nd Ave, Miami); when the swap meet ends at 6 p.m., the after party begins inside and continues until late. For more information visit Metal305.com
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