RENO, NV - The Hells Angels and Vagos motorcycle gangs brought their long standing feud to the Reno area's annual Street Vibrations event last year and it took just a few words to set off a fight that ended in gunfire on the casino floor at John Ascuaga's Nugget.
One man, a Hells Angels chapter president, died.
In the aftermath, the reasoning went, if gang members couldn't wear their "colors", the distinctive clothing identifying their memberships, it would go a long way toward keeping things quiet.
"If they're not allowed to do that the don't tend to congregate in large numbers," says Nugget Marketing Director Beth Cooney.
So, the Nugget banned such gear from their premises. Downtown Reno hotel casinos followed suit.
The Nugget wasn't finished They then took the next step, moving the Sparks venue from the public streets of Victorian Square to their own west parking lot where they can enforce the ban and keep things safer.
"We'll checking and monitoring all entrances to not only the Nugget, but we'll be monitoring our parking garages and all property that's owned by the Nugget as well as the event to make sure we have no colors enforced in all these areas.
Legally colors can't be banned in downtown Reno, but they are being discouraged there. The message is clear.
"They aren't welcome anymore," says Street Vibrations organizer Randy Burke.
In fact, the new rules, he says, are becoming standard at most large motorcycle gatherings around the country and they seem designed to get that message across.
"They won't take their colors off or as they would say in the street, they'd rather eat dirt," says Burke.
So we can assume they're off eating dirt and not at Street Vibration venues?
"They're probably having fun at establishments friendly to their clubs."
Burke says the event remains much the same otherwise, with additional venues at a local Harley Davidson dealership and Virginia City.
Lots of activities, stunt acts, vendors and, of course, a few thousand motorcycles rumbling through local streets.
One other feature has been added: a shuttle bus between downtown Reno and Sparks. It's hoped that will address one other safety concern, alcohol related accidents.
The event starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday.