Partytime at Paradise Island
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio
When most people from Pittsburgh say they’re heading to the beach in August, they typically don’t mean gathering with other motorcycle enthusiasts on the sunny sands of Neville Island. Over the last two summers, the Steel City Mods vs Rockers event has taken place at Paradise Island Bowl and Beach, where you’d be surprised to find a parking lot full of classic bikes near a beachfront tiki bar with live music and a pin-up contest. This year’s event on Saturday, August 27, 2022, was quite the party. Sergio Kyriakis of Ton Up Pittsburgh filled us in on the event’s history and details.
For those unfamiliar, could you give a rundown of the history behind the Mods vs Rockers event and how your group got involved?Sergio Kyriakis: Back in 2010, there were two very enterprising young ladies that started to promote the Steel City Rockers vs Mods event. These types of events are somewhat historical in the sense that they celebrate the Mods vs Rockers of the 1950s and 60s in England. When our club, which was The Steel City Rockers at the time, found out about it, we called the girls for a quick meetup. They did not realize that our club existed, so we struck a friendship and let them know we would gladly support them in their endeavor. The first event was held in the parking lot next to the now Hofbräuhaus in Pittsburgh’s South Side Works. Eventually, the ladies decided they had enough fun putting these shows on and asked us to take the event over, so we obliged.
From my knowledge, this is your second year at Paradise Island Bowl and Beach on Neville Island. What was the motivation for moving the event here?SK: You’re absolutely correct. Paradise Island Bowl and Beach is centrally located with easy access from Route 79, has a huge flat parking lot that’s good for the bikes, a full kitchen and wait staff providing food and beverages, and best of all, they have a Tiki Bar on the beach with a stage where we host our live entertainment and awards ceremony. It was a blast. The location couldn’t be any more perfect. In the past, we have moved the venue from time to time to locations we feel are more conducive to the overall atmosphere and vibe. We bring in local vendors, a vintage DJ, Rockabilly bands, and even have a pinup contest.
The event has different areas that attendees can explore throughout the day. Can you go through the layout of the show and dig into what someone might expect when attending?SK: The show runs from noon to 5pm. It goes by super fast! We have vendors of all types, pinups girls, rockabilly bands, and a ton of really cool motorcycles. Some attendees are dedicated to their individual causes, while others take in everything we have to offer. Let’s take you through what a rider can expect. They are greeted at the gate where they make a $5.00 contribution and receive an entry pass. From there, they are directed to park their bike in the cordoned lot and then register to win prizes. Within the lot, there are vendors lining the perimeter. This year’s major vendors for our event were Snyder’s Riders, Mosites Powersports, and Pitt Cycle. Also on hand are leather smiths, patch vendors, t-shirts, and other custom attire, along with local motorcycle shops such as Roll On Cycle, Uptahn Metalworks, Guntown Cycle, and our friend Roger from IKON Suspension. Walking around, one can take in all the sights of bikes, some customized, some brand new. We’ve also been known to have demo rides from time to time. There are some custom builders that turn out to show their uniquely crafted machines. From the parking lot, one can head on down to “the beach” where the Tiki Hut is located along the banks of the Ohio River. There is a full-service bar that serves food, a stage where bands play, and an area where we are able to set up a vintage DJ. We’ve had DJ Markus spin vintage tunes for several years now. He’s from England and really knows how to spin a mean record! This year’s bands were The Legendary Hucklebucks and the Lowlife Drifters. That was a serious lineup, if you ask me. Once the bands have finished playing, it’s time to bring on the Pin Up contest, which is hosted by Miss Mandy Frank, where up to two dozen beautiful ladies ply their talents in hopes of becoming this year’s Miss Steel City Mods vs Rockers. This component in itself adds so much color and provides some fantastic entertainment not only for onlookers but also for the participants. They are really into dressing up and playing the part. The last part of the show involves giving out trophies for various categories of motorcycles: Best Cafe Racer, Best Custom American, Best Custom British, Best Custom European, Best Japanese, and of course, The People’s Choice. We change up the categories from time to time to keep it interesting. The major awards for our bike show are provided by our friends at Lowbrow Customs and Steve Simqu, host of the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Pittsburgh, who builds the trophies.
The motorcycle community thrives because of events and gatherings, whether big or small. What does it mean to organize something that brings so many enthusiasts together?SK: We absolutely love bringing motorcycle enthusiasts together at these events where they can experience local custom builds and restorations. It’s also a great opportunity for the local shops to interact with their customers outside of their brick-and-mortar stores and hopefully meet some new patrons. Many folks can’t wait to come out and see us again year after year, and to be honest, we feel the same way. We are so stoked to have groups of like-minded individuals come together to enjoy some quality time with us, support the vendors and sponsors, and have a great time overall. It’s a memorable event and seems to get better year after year. I would attribute that to the participants as well as everyone who helps put on the event.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank?SK: We for sure would like to give a shout-out to all our vendors starting with the management for Paradise Island Bowl and Beach, Snyders Riders, Mosites Motorsports, PitCycles, Lowbrow Customs, IKON Shocks and Suspension, Mandy Frank and the Steel City Rockabellas, DJ Markus Newman, Jason Croxall the Stage Manager, the members of the Ton Up Pittsburgh, and of course, Pittsburgh Moto for giving us this opportunity to share our love of bikes, rockabilly, and the cafe racer Rocker culture.
Any plans for next year?SK: We have plans, but nothing is set in stone just yet. We will support the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and there will be a Mods vs Rockers event. Once we know for certain, we will publish the dates and update all our fans via social media. Keep an eye out on our Facebook pages as we post other events and rides you might be interested in. Thank you for all of your support, and we look forward to seeing all of you in 2023!
Featured in Issue 12
STEEL CITY MODS VS. ROCKERS 2022
August 27, 2022
PARADISE ISLAND BOWL & BEACH7601 Grand Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15225
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Words by KURT DISERIO
Photos by ALEXA DISERIO