To become a biker, you need a motorcycle, passion for rock'n'roll, and love for freedom. Bikers are not lone wolves who ride alone; they are a part of a pack – a motorcycle club or biker gang. One of the world's first motor clubs, Hell's Angels, was created in 1948 by demobilized veterans in California. Today, every self-respecting biker must necessarily join a club. For motorcycle buffs, a club is not just a place to hang out, it is a family.
To become a part of a biker club, a candidate must earn the membership. The selection is usually quite tough but it’s worth it. Sometimes bikers have to go through some challenging tests to get a club membership. One of such tests to join a new "family" can be a ride between two oncoming motorcycles. The test takes place at dusk when it gets dark outside. The headlights of a "newcomer" are off, so you can only count on the lights of the two motorcycles ahead. One of such applicants realized that the headlights belonged to a huge truck instead of bikes but it was already too late ...
You can’t become a gang member without a guarantor. This makes the way to a club quite long. It all starts with an acquaintance with a current club member. If he thinks that you are worthy, he introduces you to other members. The introducer (guarantor) is automatically responsible for all further actions of the novice. If you make a positive impression on the club members, you are assigned a support status. After a certain time (it may be a year or even more), if a support has positively established himself, the matter of his admission to a club is raised at a club meeting.
When you join a club, you become a hang around. Hang around is the first and lowest of all the ranks in the biker hierarchy. Next, you become a prospect (or probate) and only then a full patch member.
A motorcycle club has a few leaders who are elected or appointed: president, vice president, treasurer, sergeant-at-arms (head of security and first instance for resolving disputes between members), road captain (his responsibilities are to organize routes, determine necessary expenses, etc.), and other officers.
The club relations are built on the principle of a rigid hierarchy. Hang-arounds obey to prospects and full patch members, prospects obey to members. All three categories must comply with the requirements of the statute, officers, and the president. The top of the organization is the president who heads a club and leads meetings. The President and officers form the Council, which has executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The Council can make changes to the statute and impose disciplinary actions on members and supports.
Each MC has its own symbolism (patches, also known as colors). These are usually three stripes attached to the back of a leather or denim vest - the upper and lower rockers and the center patch.
Hang-arounds, as a rule, have the right to wear only the lower rocker, prospects can wear the lower and upper rockers, and members are ‘fully patched’. Hell’s Angels have it a little differently – hang-arounds wear only a small “fake” patch on the left side of the vest, prospects get the lower patch on the back while members sport all three patches. Officers wear a special patch with the name of their rank on the left side of the vest. Sometimes there is a patch with the name or nickname of the owner.
As in any organization, members of a biker gang can be punished or stimulated. The main incentives are rapid progress up the hierarchy and exemption from membership fees. Punishments include menial work, a fine, temporary deprivation of rights and privileges, physical punishments, and expulsion from a club. The latter is considered to be the most serious punishment. The decision to banish a member is considered at a general meeting if an accused has a low rank or at a meeting of full patch members if they consider misdeeds of a member or an officer. All admitted persons can express their opinion but only members have the right to vote. If a decision to expel a member is made, he immediately must take his vest off and leave.