Old School Skate Jam

Skatelab honors skateboarding’s legends.

Dennis “Polar Bear” Agnew, Jay Alabamy, Micki Alba, Steve Alba, Tony Alva, Dave Andrecht, Waldo Autry, Larry Balma, Ricky Barnes, Jonny Ray Bartel, Bob Biniak, Brad Bowman, Brian Brannon, Beau Brown, Steve Caballero, Chris Cook, James Cassimus, Steve Cathey, Chris Chaput, Paul Constantineau …Make no mistake–this wasn’t the Oscars. But in a way it was skateboarding’s version of a celebrity event. These were the heroes that today’s skate heroes looked up to. When Lance Mountain is running around with a vintage Variflex banner, eager to cover every last inch of it with the signatures of skateboarding’s legends, it becomes clear that you’re in the midst of some serious figures.

Skateboarding’s stars of today and yesteryear gathered for the first time ever for an event of this kind. But rather than a Hollywood theater with a fancy stage, this reunion of skateboarding’s past heroes took place to the north at Simi Valley’s Skatelab skatepark. And instead of a big stage, there was the bowl. It was the center of attention, and those who ascended its transitions were at once dynamic and graceful.

… Bill Danforth, Darrel Delgado, Adrian Demain, Freddie DeSoto, Art Dickey, Bill Dohr, Eric Dressen, Dave Duncan, Scott Dunlap, Ed Economy, Eddie Elguera, Ron Emory, Skip Engblom, Don Fisher, Ray Flores, Mike Folmer, Glen E. Friedman, Alan “Ollie” Gelfand, Art Godoy, Steve Godoy, Jim Gray, Marty Grimes, Eric Grisham, Tom Groholski, Jeff Grosso …

With the noise and applause generated by the crowd surrounding the bowl, it actually was a little like being at the Oscars. Those who dared to drop in during the heated session were met with no less than three others, also swerving and zooming around the small transitioned space–the last one standing earning himself a solo ride. Veterans like Tony Alva, Duane Peters, and Tom “Wally” Inouye drew from lifetimes of achievement to carve and slash every line in the bowl.

Many others came just to be there. Henry Hester, Skip Engblom, Alan Gelfand, and dozens more brought their families and mingled with long-lost friends, caught up, and enjoyed the private event organized by Eric “Arab” Groff, Todd Huber, and Scott Radinsky. It was their way of saying thanks to the skaters and entrepreneurs who established skateboarding’s roots, and who allowed the modern sport to become what it has.

… Dave Hackett, Omar Hassan, Tony Hawk, Henry Hester, Lonnie Hiramoto, Mike Hirsch, Steve Hirsch, Jeff Ho, Howard Hood, Wes Humpston, Tom “Wally” Inouye, Jason Jessee, Marty Jiminez, Hunter Joslin, Bryce Kanights, Alan Losi, John Lucero, Tony Magnusson, Dennis Martinez, Mike McGill, Rob Mertz, Lance Mountain, MoFo, James “Red Dog” Muir, Aaron “Fingers” Murray, Monty Nolder, Layne Oakes, Peggy Oki, Steve “Bulky” Olson, George Orton …

The Skatelab itself is a testament to their contributions, a literal museum of vintage skateboards, but also a laboratory where old and new congregate and coalesce–across the street course and up the flat bank lies the focal point of this evening’s activities, the Skatelab bowl. There the crowd pushed right up to the coping, and the skaters returned to their primal youth when snaking every other run and carving with speed and style were the hallmarks of the day. Brian Patch, Omar Hassan, Jaya Bonderov, and Tony Hawk displayed the modern take on classic bowlriding, employing the airspace much more than the others, but the session could have easily been mistaken for an early 80s backyard pool session–same faces, the same feeling, and the same ferocity. Twenty years down the road, and these guys haven’t let up a bit.

… Brian Patch, Tim Payne, Duane Peters, Pineapple, George Powell, Eddie Reatigui, Dave Ruel, Everett Rosecrans, Billy Ruff, Paul Schmitt, Ben Schroeder, Bob Skoldberg, Buck Smith, Dale Smith, Jay Smith, Mike Smith, Kevin Staab, Craig Stecyk III, Chris Strople, Tod Swank, Ted Terrebonne, Jerry Valdez, Mike Vallely, Chris Yandall, and too many more to count.

If you were there and you made your own significant contribution to the world of skateboarding, thank you. If you weren’t there and made your own significant contribution to the world of skateboarding, where the hell were you, bro?

Next year, be there.

For more information, check out skatelab.com.