From Sept. 27-Oct. 1, Reno hosted its fall 2017 Street Vibrations, celebrating motorcycles, motorcycle culture, generally loud noises and toxic masculinity. Vendors and live music peppered Virginia Street and all throughout downtown.
Vendors included leather jackets, leather chaps, sassy rhinestoned hats, palm readers, wellness bracelets, “gluten-free” nail application and wine slushies. Cover bands played rock hits from the 70s and 80s.
Despite murmurs of a neo-Nazi group titled the “Branded Few” gallivanting around and overall stereotypes of bikers being lethally violent, everyone seemed nice for the most part. People traveled from all over the country to see the attraction, including a number of doctors and lawyers who support biker culture. This comes as no surprise, especially considering the price of an average Harley Davidson.
And outside the copious amounts of leather, certain vendors actively sought to promote the greater good.
Rodney Jensen advocated his Bikers Assistance Group charity, a nationally-recognized nonprofit, for his seventh year. Patrons could buy raffle tickets for the chance to win a car in order to raise money.
“When a biker gets injured and needs help paying their bills, that’s what the money raised goes for,” Jensen said. At the time of Street Vibrations, Jensen had 55 injured bikers for whom he was raising money.
Typically, Bikers Assistance Group raises approximately $4,000-$5,000 at Street Vibrations. The charity began when Jensen himself was injured on a motorcycle. In 2001, a texting driver going 65 mph hit Jensen at a red light. It took five years for him to walk again. The driver did not have a license and the car she drove was registered under a different name. After an arduous lawsuit with the insurance company, portions of the settlement were put toward starting the charity.
“Save a life, don’t text and drive,” Jensen said. “Texting and driving is just becoming a very bad thing. It’s injuring a lot of young people. A lot of the younger generation is getting killed due to texting and driving. It’s pretty bad.”
Sue Neander advocated Christian Motorcyclists Association. She’s come to Street Vibrations for decades, doing outreach and sharing gospel bracelets.
“You don’t have to be a motorcyclist to be a member, but you do have to believe in Christ as the son of God,” Neander said. “Christ died for your sins. It’s through him that you get to spend eternity with God in heaven. The kind of motorcycle someone drives doesn’t matter.”
Neander does not drive a motorcycle but has dubbed herself an “official passenger.” When asked about dubious attendees who think Christian motorcyclist is an oxymoron, she said, “They’ve seen the images from the old movies. They forget there are believers who have motorcycles.”
Even though some vendors proudly displayed wallets with Confederate flags and there were shops open which people could stroll in and purchase guns, objects and symbols over which people tend to get worked up, at its core, Street Vibrations spreads positivity. Regardless of its content, it remains testament to people’s ability to coexist harmoniously without metal detectors or overt security. The weather was beautiful; the sun was shining all weekend. It marked the end of September. Some simpler minds appreciate this as the actual end of summer, a transition into a cooler and darker time.