According to anecdotal evidence, there's an inversely proportional relationship between a scooter-hater's likelihood to start shit and the number of riders they encounter. In other words, there's safety in numbers--numbers than can easily be attained by joining one of Portland's two main clubs. Fortunately for riders (but unfortunately for reporters trying to dig up a juicy story), the two clubs--Oregon Scooter Club and Twist and Play--function more as two halves of the same community than fierce rivals who brawl on the mean streets of Portland.
Twist and Play was formed in the mid-'90s around two things--riding vintage Italian scooters and drinking. (Although not necessarily drinking and riding, because that's dangerous and illegal. Cough. Wink.) The club has grown over the years, but its focus remains the same--it's lovingly referred to as a "drinking club with a scootering problem."
The regular club events are a weekly gathering at the Speakeasy Tavern and a roving barbecue/happy hour on Fridays. And then there are the annual events, like last weekend's Spring Scoot, and a drag ride every January, in which members ride while dressed in drag.
As the club grew through the late '90s, though, there were some members looking for a club that didn't necessarily revolve around booze and would appeal to an older demographic of "weekend riders." Since nothing like that existed in Portland, Juaning Higgins and a handful of others split off to form the Oregon Scooter Club in 2002. From the beginning, OSC has differentiated itself through its motto ("To promote safe riding, good road manners, and scooter awareness") and by getting a 501(c)(7) non-profit status. The club has a charter, rules, and bylaws, and is focused on teaching people how to be safe riders. "Not to offend anyone," Higgins says, "but we are a true organization."
While it might seem like the split should have caused a rift in the scootering community, both groups co-exist peacefully and share members, including Higgins. "Hopefully, we divided in anticipation of the scooter community getting so large," he says, explaining that creating two distinct groups for different types of riders headed off what could have been an internal division at Twist and Play. This way, the community retains its solidarity.
There are, of course, a number of other clubs besides OSC and Twist and Play, including the all-girl Hell's Belles, the Wussies, Cute Bunnies & Kitties (who reportedly put on a helluva Easter party), and Los Gatos Gordos, each of which have their own philosophies and priorities, although there is a deal of crossover between each of the clubs.
Of course, you could forgo the clubs all together, joining those scooterists who choose to remain unaffiliated. But when the shit hits the fan, wouldn't you want your back covered by people who call themselves the Cute Bunnies?