Source : Wired.com
DAN GIANNOPOULOS WASN’T terribly concerned about his safety as he lay on the street, which he considered the best angle to photograph a motorcycle doing donuts just feet from his head. “Looking back at the photographs, I might have been a little too close,” he says.
You’ll get almost as close to the action looking at his fascinating black-and-white series South London Bikelife. Giannopoulos spent a year inside the city’s thriving, thrill-seeking subculture of motorcycle daredevils. Dozens of people gather in parking lots, deserted roads and other expanses of pavement to do all manner of tomfoolery, often to the chagrin of the local constabulary. “It’s a way they find some sense of belonging and community,” Giannopoulos says.
The so-called bikelife subculture started in the United States in the mid ’90s and spread to the UK through social media. Giannopoulos occasionally saw the riders doing wheelies and other tricks in his Greenwich neighborhood. One night last year he spotted a handful of them cutting loose near the O2 Arena and stopped to chat. “I was curious to find out what made them want to do what they were doing,” he says. They invited him to a gathering the following night, and kept asking him back after seeing his photos.
Giannopoulos spent the next year attending more than 20 meetups from Croyden to Dagenham. As many as 50 riders would gather on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. It was mostly guys from 9 to 40, but a few women joined the fun. Safety gear was optional as they put on a show for friends, family, significant others and anyone else. “A lot of the riders come from working class areas so they are surrounded by gangs and crime all the time,” Giannopoulos says. “The argument for bikelife is that it brings people from these backgrounds together to provide them with a focus that is not gang related.”
The shenanigans are illegal on public roads, and peeved locals to no end on Halloween, 2015 when some 200 riders made quite a ruckus of an 8-mile ride from Lambeth to Bromley. Giannopoulos never saw anyone get arrested, but he was there when the cops showed up a few times—with patrol cars, vans, and even a helicopter. But he insists the riders aren’t hoodlums, but ordinary folks who are friendly and welcoming—even when spinning donuts next to your head.