2020 Indian Larry Block Party
In a time of great uncertainty and unrest it was incredible to see the city of Brooklyn come together and lock arms in a moment of celebratory sister and brotherhood uniting the surrounding neighborhoods and city streets for some good old fashioned two wheeled fun. Of course I'm referring to the Indian Larry Block Party which this year was given the special name "small business shutdown protest." Bobby Seeger Jr and the hardworking crew behind Genuine Motorworks/Indian Larry really puts their own heart and soul into the festivities in the true spirit that Larry would have certainly wanted in these troubling times.
In that spirit of tradition they found a way to keep things going and even though the mayor wasn't too fond of the gathering, the NYPD and crowd control on site was very welcoming and accepting of the "protest vibes" we were giving off with our collective moto liberation front. Smiles were on every face and the good energy radiated from every vibrating hunk of rubber and iron that packed the streets piloted by the most diverse crew of riders from all over the East Coast and beyond. Call it a party, call it a protest, or call it a pure cleansing for the soul that the city of Brooklyn surely needed, the Indian Larry Block party was all that and more.
The block party spanned several blocks of the beautiful neighborhood surrounding the Genuine Motorworks building complex in downtown Brooklyn, New York. A part of the city known for its lively bustling sidewalks and electric energy at all times this was the perfect stage for a well needed moto "protest gathering." As the daylight broke and sun began to warm up the cold city streets, the bikes began to pour in from every direction lining every single sidewalk with performance Harley Davidson and touring motorcycles but also with a vibrant mix of colorful custom choppers and vintage motorcycles as well. We even got the chance to once again see our East Coast entry for the 2019 Greasy Dozen builder collective Jerry Merola & Frank Caruti's amazing cone shovel build along with Jerry's peace loving pan shovel build.The best way to really describe the vibe that began to unfold that morning was just absolutely "electric."
A once empty street was now a jammed pack wall of vibrating energy and that energy only grew even more as the smiling riders dismounted from their bikes and shook hands with those around them. Some social distanced as they were comfortable to do so and some kept things a little tighter packed but responsibly respected their fellow riders. In gatherings like this it's often hard to keep an element of personal space but everyone in attendance was polite and respectful and for a group of fairly rowdy looking hooligans, everyone was very well mannered. Honestly every single attendee had nothing but the warmest disposition to extend to every rider to his or her side. It was truly a time of celebrated brotherhood beyond patches and beyond motorcycle brands or affiliations. It was like witnessing a spirit revival in a time when everyone had a right to feel the need for some healthy human compassion and kindness.
The city of New York as well as the country has been through a lot this past year and the need for some relief was certainly seen on several faces. Many people locked arms and patted backs not knowing when they would see each other next and celebrated by sharing stories of their travels right there on the street. The event usually is catered around live entertainment but with the pandemic this year and live bands a bit hard to book, Bobby set up a very well rounded disc jockey to keep the jams spinning throughout the day which lead to several instances of some serious dance offs hitting the pavement when the occasional choice jam hit the speakers. When people weren't strutting their stuff alongside their bikes the adjoining streets ended up turning up the heat with some unofficial yet incredible stunt riding that turned into a real symphony of destruction itself and certainly saved the day for "live entertainment." Several members of the stunt riders group "East Coastin' crew" took turns ripping their high performance dynas and sportsters up and down the street while onlookers climbed vehicles and lined the sidewalks to catch an up close glimpse of the action. For the most part, incredibly, the NYPD stood down with their jaws dropped and arms folded while watching these guys rip 12 o' clock wheelies and spinning burnouts all over the street for what seemed like over an hour. When things got a little bit wild a calm suggestion to tone it down was asked but the East Coastin' crew came back a couple more times throughout the day to light up the streets with shredding rubber and flying fender sparks until they were satisfied that each patron on a rotating line up got to see a solid dose of the days action.
If the smell of burnt rubber wasn't your thing then have no fear, Bobby and the crew had a special VIP area set up out back with some more laid back jams and vibes and all the fresh sliced bbq that you could eat. They included special access to the showroom and shop area for some where the insanely talented John the Painter and the Genuine Motorworks crew currently have some of their newest projects in the works on display. Leading out of the showroom and back onto the streets they had a killer setup of Indian Larry merchandise as well as an impressive collection of vendors lining each side of the street. After all the bbq was gone and the last tires had been shred the sun began to go down and the riders one by one in small groups fired up their bikes and filed their way off of the jam packed 15th street back into various parts of the city. The sound of choppers being kicked over and loud unbaffled exhausts grew louder and louder and louder as riders embraced one another in triumphant jubilation for the day had gone unencumbered by any bad vibes of any kind. As the clusters of bikes became smaller and the music began to die down, a sense of gratitude calmly came over you, for you knew that Larry was just over your shoulder looking down, over a proud day to stand tall with your brothers in this beautiful Brooklyn town. Our special thanks to Bobby, John, Gabby and all the crew that welcomed us and everyone with open arms to celebrate another great year of the Indian Larry block party. Photos and words by Mike Vandegriff