By Ani Paitjan
In the streets of Yerevan, you might have heard the humming of motorcycles. Those are most likely to be the Rock Machine members. The bikers club has decided to flourish in the capital. Their watchword: Brotherhood. Meeting.
Sitting around a coffee table laden with marinated vegetables, lavash and chicken legs, a group of six bikers and their supporters are chatting about throttle, speed, engine, fights and girls. The Rock Machine Motorcycle Club’s members are having a little party… at a dental care center. Yes, a dental care center. One of their supporters is a dentist in Yerevan and he kindly invited the club to join his office.
The scene is totally wacky. Surrounded by dental mouldings, spatulas, mouth mirrors and scalpels handles of all kind, the buddies are talking and laughing loudly. Rob, a tall, long dark haired biker with the face marked by tattoos is continuously pouring vodka in the glasses. “I was in Moscow and I was chillin’ in a bar, not bugging anyone then a guy came and insulted me. I wasn’t looking for trouble you know ? But obviously, he was… So we fought and both of us will certainly remember that moment” tells David, a punk in his thirties with an eagle tattooed on his half shaved skull. The others burst out laughing.
The Rock Machine Club Armenia was created almost a year ago.
Vahagn (aka Vagøs), a 36 year old man with short cut black hair, tattoos all over his arms and a Van Dyke style beard is a long time biker. 15 years precisely. He was a member of two other MC Clubs before Rock Machine but he never really felt satisfied: “We decided to create the club because motorbiking is more than a Sunday hobby. It is a lifestyle”, he says enjoying a fresh Kilikia beer. The Armenian club is actually a chapter of the Montréalers (Canada) Rock Machine MC. The latter was created in 1986 and gathers member fans of scrambler. Since that moment, its influence has risen and spread out of the Canadian borders: USA, Germany, France, Sweden, Thailand, Russia, etc. But the Armenian club is a probationary Rock Machine chapter, which means that the members have to prove they deserve to be part of this very particular masculine community.
According to the club, the best word that could define them would be ‘brotherhood’: “This is exactly what we are looking for. We want more close ties, contacts, more possibilities, more friends and a more interesting life”, says Vagøs with a laugh. Edgar (aka Edison), another member on probation (called prospect member), adds: “But it is a strange kind of community where everybody else is a brother. That’s not only empty words. If I go to the US and there is a Rock Machine member there, I will consider him as my brother and he will consider me the same way. And whatever my brother needs, whatever I need, we should help each other. It is an international community of brotherhood”, says the biker with a slightly grainy voice caused by thousands of burnt cigarettes.
Riding, a meditation
Edison is riding alone on his white Yamaha motorbike for two years. But riding with people that share your passion is priceless according to him. The bikers came to the dental care by car or by taxi. The winter is too harsh to hit the road, “we are on a PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome), explains Edgar. I take good care of my Gazanik (Little monster in Armenian) during this period. But now I have to break it off, I sold it for a new one.” The affection is real while he is talking about his baby. All the members of the Rock Machine MC club devote a consuming passion for the club and the moto : “It is the most important thing in life. Women, job and all that stuff should come second,” adds one of them while removing hot and crusty potatoes from a dental lab oven. “With a moto, you are not cut off from nature, unlike a car. You can feel the wind blowing and you are a small part of the highway. My favorite road is the Vardenyats pass. When you get into the pass, you are riding and then you realise you’ve been riding for ten minutes without thinking about anything at all. You are just enjoying the moment and the beauty surrounding you,” tells Edison with sparkling eyes. “But you can’t understand if you haven’t try.” Challenge accepted.
We meet at an empty parking, near the Hrazdan stadium. One of their supporters just bought a moto from Russia. Time for a try. After some comings and goings, Edison launches: “It’s your turn, get on and hold me tight.” The speed, the wind, the adrenaline,… Now the sparkle in Edison’s eyes is understandable.
Mystery and bad reputation
But the Rock Machine Club isn’t a transparent club that opens its doors to everyone. First rule, being a man, second rule, having a serious motorbike and then it becomes blurry or more precisely mysterious. “You have to deserve your black leather jacket with the Rock Machine patch sewed on.” How? “…like this…” How many members do you have in the Armenian club? “ We can’t tell you.” When would you be an official chapter of the club ? “Sorry, but again we can’t tell.” What do you have to do for this ? “Prove allegiance.” How? “We can’t tell.”
On the American continent, the Rock Machine MC Club, like many other MC clubs gets a bad reputation. More than just a friendly bikers’ club, it is considered by the Canadian and American authorities as an outlaw organization. Drugs and weapons dealing, robbery, gangs war and even murder… No doubt, people look upon them unfavourably. “But it isn’t the same in Armenia. First of all, a few know about MC Clubs. And we do not want to make trouble and attract unwanted attention by the police,” says Vagøs.
Now that the cold winter has come, what are the plans for the next three months? “Drink, maybe have concerts, recruit new members and above all, patiently wait for spring to hit the road on our motos,” says Edison with a big smile.