Illustrations: Dave Tyson
The other day I was happily skating off a hangover at Victoria Park when my slightly boozy state of zen was interrupted by that most unwanted of sights at a skatepark; the wax-happy blader. When called out he was vaguely apologetic but still asked if he could ‘wax the miniramp bit so we can slide better’.
This got me thinking about the nature of wax, as I have done more than once since a similar rollerblade-based scenario caused me three nights in hospital and two plates in my arm after slipping out on their foul coping leavings. I mean, it’s not that we are completely guilt-free of waxing things – I’ve had to stop more than one skateboarder from hitting the miniramp with a candle slide over the years, although obviously when you’re hitting the streets then any ledge or curb is going to need a few coatings.
Skate shops always have some kind of brand name wax lodged in amongst the bearings, wallets and other odds and ends in a display cabinet, but for many skaters I know then candles are the lubricator of choice. However, maybe we are being close-minded with regards to this – after some deep thought, here are a few alternatives which may be under represented in the world of waxing.
Not the skin because this isn’t a silent comedy, this is street skating and a ripened, mulchy banana can be the raw shred fruit you need to gain some extra momentum.
We actually tried this the other day on a rancid and uber-kinked hubba ledge in Bradford after running out of more hum-drum waxing products. It actually worked too well, making the last kink ten times more treacherous than the still-crusty ledge space before it. Only use if you are at one with yellow fruit.
A friend of mine used to consistently carry around a bar of Imperial Leather for ledge-waxing purposes. While the efficacy of the bar was unproven, women’s attraction to his trucks were not and this is definitely a wax option for the sophisticated bachelor about town.
Undoubtedly the heshest of waxing methods and probably approved by backyard pool skaters from more rural areas; ‘You haven’t even felt pool coping grind until you’ve felt it through a sheen of tire-damaged badger!!’
We all know someone who loves the freedom inherently in street skating but at the same time hates the thought of rolling around in filth for hours trying to land a trick.
Wash away their hang ups and offer them some supermarket-brand washing liquid (of course supermarket-brand, we’re skateboarders not multi-millionaires!), not only will it soften up their chosen ledge but it will mean that each slam will make them cleaner rather than dirtier.
Often easily accessible at your local spot, this is a last resort wax which requires a strong stomach and a dedication /lack of patience which requires an immediate grind satisfaction.
If anyone starts looking at you oddly and dialling three-digit numbers, make sure you stare deep into their eyes as you wax without blinking to reassure them of your sanity. Don’t expect anyone else to wash your clothes for you afterwards either.
It says on the packet that their lubricated, and again they are often found within slamming distance of your local meet up spot, but I’d recommend buying them from the store instead.
Make sure they’re in date as well, or you might turn up the next time to find the curb with a serious STD (skatestopper trick deterrent).
AKA Nature’s Wax. Gaia has offered her children a serious tool in the battle for lengthy grinds/slides. It is however a double edged sword, coming as it does with the opportunity for unwanted wheel slideouts leading to faceplant fun. Only use if seriously dedicated to hippy-dom.
Another wax often found amongst the earthier end of the skateboarding spectrum, where you find tie-dyed and shoelaced-belted space shredders there’s a chance of finding a ledge coated with LSD-25. Legend has it that Ken Kesey noseblunted Hubba Hideout in 1967 while his Merry Pranksters kept the man at bay.
Thom Wolfe wrote up a review for Skateboarder Magazine but refused to divulge the location, so it wasn’t until the 90s that the spot was rediscovered by a new generation of skate rats.
Who needs standard wax when you can just cut a thin 90 degree angle of marble which will grind with little to no lubrication? All that is required is a) your own building firm, b) the mayorship of the town you wish to marble coat or c) enough money that no-one will bat an eyelid when you drive around and marble the edge of every spot.
Spittle AKA phlegm AKA street lube
Having trouble getting hold of any of the above? Luckily for you, your body actually produces a perfect natural lubricant in the form of spit.
With the newfound popularity of skateboarding amongst the fashion industry someone is bound to see you gobbing heartily on your skateboard at some point, think that you’re hard or punk or both, and offer you a sweet modelling contract worth millions. Then you can save those precious bodily fluids and make a go of option number 9.