Not everyone will cotton to the idea of a fight club in West Oakland — particularly one overseen by the East Bay Rats motorcycle club. For those who do, however, it’s a minor obsession. When Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes got wind of the fights, he made them the centerpiece of his Current TV pilot, The Immersionist, which was all about “demystifying” strange subcultures. An SFist blogger described the Rats’ fight night as “a three-ring circus of awesomeness.” Clips of Rat brawls abound on YouTube, showing chick fights, emo-boy fights, big-scary-dude fights, fights with underlying sexual tension, two-on-two fights, fights done barefoot, fights that involve more air-swatting than physical contact, fights that elicit jeers from the crowd. If these clips tell us anything, it’s that we love watching a little blood sport — particularly between two opponents who don’t exactly know what they’re doing.
The Rats are, indeed, a weird bastion of traditional working-class machismo, right in the middle of progressive, hipster Oakland. They offer a chance for willowy hipster dudes to get in touch with their essential dude-ness, which might explain why Rats founder Trevor Latham has such an easy time convincing people to put on boxing gloves. Agan thinks of the Rats as Oakland’s answer toThe Dukes of Hazzard. “They’re a motorcycle club, but they’re cool guys,” he said. “Not knucklehead racist dudes.”
Punks versus hipsters was the most successful theme night to date. And since then, the Rats have compiled a list of potential future themes: Property owners versus graffiti artists. Librarians versus the illiterate. Clowns versus mimes. Cutters versus bulimics. Pill-poppers versus huffers. The college-educated versus high school drop-outs. Female-to-male transsexuals versus male-to-female transsexuals. Transplants verses locals.
Such built-in tensions help generate interest. But, in reality, the fights are popular on their own. Latham said the club’s biggest smoker attracted about 3,000 people. Saturday’s fight might have ranked up there, had they not turned people away. Everyone and their mom seemed to want to fight. Punks fought punks. Hipsters fought hipsters. Chicks fought other chicks. City Hall gadfly Max Allstadt fought Hoodstock organizer Miguel Reyes. After winning the fight, Allstadt posted photos on Facebook of his bloodied face, with the caption, “I have discovered a great preemptive hangover cure. It’s called ‘being hit in the face a lot.’ You should try it! I’m going to make millions.” A forty-year-old punk rocker named Lache, who entered the ring for the first time in her life on Saturday, tried to explain the fight’s appeal. “I volunteered … and I would do it again,” she assured. “But I would want to be put with someone who hadn’t fought before.” Lache got paired with another tough punk chick who had more experience in the ring. Their fight lasted just over a minute — Lache was the one who backed out. Allstadt consoled her: “You threw a few damn good punches, that’s for sure.”
This shit is awesome. I wanna fight asap, but I really wish it was in the city instead of Oakland. I’ve been back in the city for 6 months now and I cannot tell you how much it’s changed. Fucking hiptsers everywhere. The mission is a whole new neighborhood. My grandma grew up in the mission back when it was predominantly an Irish neighborhood. When I was growing up it was, and still kinda is, Mexican and El Salvadorian. Nowadays, techies who work in the peninsula have pretty much taken over because they’re willing to pay up to, and over 3k a month for rent. And they’re all hipsters. It’s a whole new breed of hipster. The Techy Hipster. They dress just like ordinary hipsters, but they have way more money because being broke in SF is WAY too mainstream. And anyone can say, “Well, they are able to afford it, so why not let them live there and let them raise rent prices?” No. These guys are ruining this neighborhood and the entire city. Yes I’m sure the crime rate has decreased significantly as gentrification continues to increase, but I hate the techy hipsters more than anyone. I even hate them more than the yuppies in the Marina. I’m seriously over this shit. They need to move to Brooklyn with the rest of the bunch. The culture of San Francisco is going to shit, fast. Real fast.
Now, if only this club was in the city. Maybe the 415 Hells Angels guys would allow something like this to happen at their club in Potrero Hill. I doubt it, but it would make them a lotta money.
Now if it was in the city….Natives vs. Transplants…I guarantee it would be a clean record for us locals. Any takers?
By: Dago Joe