Over the Memorial Day weekend, for the last 20+ years, thousands of African American motorcyclists from all over the country have made the annual pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to participate in the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest, also known as Black Bike Week.
Some of you are probably there right now, enjoying all that the event has to offer. I’m not a biker, and I’ve never attended, so I have no thrilling stories to share with you. But from all I’ve read, it’s evolved over the years, becoming something more than what it was at the start – essentially, one wild, crazy party, with almost anything you can imagine taking place. And for that reason, it’s sometimes been on the receiving end of criticism from outsiders, as well as those who have long participated, but who have become turned off by the alternate ambiance, thanks in part to the massive growth in the number of attendees over the years, turning the environment into one big lustful traffic jam.
Roughly 400,000 people are expected to travel to Myrtle Beach for Black Bike Week, this holiday weekend. But just a week after 9 people were killed in a white biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas, Myrtle Beach officials are even more on edge, enacting what has been called a controversial traffic plan, which some have also labeled racist, with once open streets now closed, and countless more police officers in patrol, clogging the already clogged arteries of the coastal city for miles, forcing cyclists to sit idly in gridlock for hours, instead of riding their bikes, which is what they came to do.
Are you attending this year? Have you attended in previous years? If so, share your firsthand experiences.
I dug up 2 different short documentaries on Black Bike Week, each one offering a slightly different perspective on the event, to give you a somewhat more balanced look at the affair. The first one is from Vice, which focuses on the more salacious side of the weekend’s activities; and the second one is from director Sean Dunne, and has actually been “endorsed” by the official Black Bike Week website, for its showcasing a more “positive” side to the popular event.
Watch them both below: