With the 30 years of Etnies show being held in Shoreditch that evening, we realistically only had time for one or two spots on our first day in London. With no time to waste, the twelve of us crammed ourselves into the two mini buses and headed North to Archway. Considering that some of the group was still trying to overcome the remnants of the trans Atlantic jet lag, and others, the aftermath of Barney’s 25th birthday the day/night before, the haggard tarmac surface surprising got people hyped. Known predominantly for his leaping abilities, Willow was first at it with a Mach 10, full length bluntslide popping fakie into the awkwardly short and steep bank at the point of entry.
Haling from New Jersey and riding for the mighty 5 Boro, it’s a given that Doogie would need no time to adapt to the rough British surfaces. Apart from Raemers’ fence plant/bash, the majority of the tricks done on this part of the bank have been stalls. Mixing this ideology with a hint of Raemers, Doogie wallie’d up to backside boneless with the optional fence bash thrown in on some of the makes. A few hours in and things were looking good!
Having spent the previous evening in Birthday booze-up mode, Barney drove himself up the wall (literally) whilst attempting the front blunt that adorns the cover of this very issue. Frustration turned to anger and anger turned to, ‘let’s come back on our way to Bristol tomorrow’ and after an hour or so, the session was over. Spending a few hours crouched behind a camera rig, UK ex-pat Mike Manzoori got the blood rushing back to his legs with this beastly wallride nollie and it was time for us to head towards Shoreditch for the evening’s event.
Managing to get ourselves checked out of the hotel at a reasonable enough time, Barney equipped with a new board and some slightly softer wheels, we headed back to Archway. The session got off to a good start and Barney was getting into and popping out of the front blunt within a few tries. But, like anything that’s going to stand up on the international stage these days, if it’s too easy then it’s probably not good enough. We spent the next hour or so on a knife-edge, as Barney would get close and then lose his patience with it. At the point where I though he might end up losing it all together, he kept his cool and rode away from the front blunt. Yes!
After countless hours of crawling our through the strangled motorway networks of the South West, we finally arrived in Bristol to a heavy crowd outside Route One and the signing soon got underway. By the time we made it over to Dean Lane skatepark, it looked like every skateboarder in the immediate area had made it out to see the show. Following the natural flow of the park, the session consisted of lines from the top to the bottom of the hill, all the while being filmed by Manzoori and other members of the crew in order to put together an Insta clip later that evening. The highlight for the crowd was also the low point for Chris Joslin as he attempted to backside flip the pyramid to flat. For those of you that have been there and seen the scale of what we’re talking about here, yes, to flat! Despite sliding out on a near make, Chris wrote himself off when on the final attempt he went the full length and height straight to his heels. As the light was all but gone and the demo drew to a close, Trevor session’d the transitions in the lower end of the park and got this lofty frontside air before we called it a day.
Our second day in Bristol was to become our only uninterrupted day of street skating, with the weather already looking questionable as we headed out mid morning. Luckily things took an about turn and by the time we arrived at the ever-welcoming St Paul’s block into bank/block four spot the sun had broken through. First up for getting things on film was Joslin and with a frontside smithgrind backside flip into the bank under his belt, he frontside flipped the four block second try. Feeling the affects of charging into a brick wall the two days prior, Barney opted for some stylish classics including this fakie frontside crooked grind much to the delight of the local basketball enthusiasts.
With a heavy media crew travelling over from the US for the trip, a decision was made early on to keep myself out of the way and not to muscle in with the fisheye and a bunch of lighting and piss everyone off. Enjoying a more documentary stance for the most part, Trevor’s backside 180 fakie 5-0 revert had been filmed from various angles at the point where I was free to shoot it. Some healthy steezed out contortion for our trusty friend Mr. Fisheye as the mid day sun began to swelter above us.
Managing to escape the ever productive but vortex-like St Paul’s spot, under the recommendation of Barney, we headed a few streets over to a potentially untouched rail. Once we’d all managed to scale the fence that surrounded the spot, claimed our angles and Ryan began to clear a path to the rail, we were confronted by the caretaker of the wasteland. Apparently people had been using the patch for all manner of grim pass times including cooking up and unleashing heroin on themselves. This became clear when we noticed that the rail was nestled in a sea of discarded hypodermic needles. Stoked!
Explaining that we were only there to skate and that we’d be gone within an hour, the temporary landlord left us to it and Ryan set about navigating his way on and off the awkward rail. Now with six cameras pointing at him and the need to just get it done and avoid any grimness, Ryan got his trick.
With the light now beginning to fade we headed up to Clifton to check out the ‘over the rail’ spot made famous by Lucien Clarke some years ago. Straight out of the van and with the plug-in iPhone speaker blasting Skepta’s ‘It ain’t safe’ that had now become the tour anthem, Chris Joslin sent himself over the rail with a few warm up ollies as us media types rushed to find an angle that didn’t mess up someone else’s. A couple of tries in and he’s got his feet on one but the potential success was short lived as his board imploded the moment he touched down on the uneven paving slabs. Etnies TM Jameson and Manzoori rushed to help set up a fresh board as the local residents’ patience was fading faster than the daylight. Less that five minutes later, he’d landed the heelflip!
Having a deep interest in and knowledge of UK skateboarding, Ryan Lay knew exactly what was on the cards when Little Lloyds came into conversation. With so many tricks being racked up on the ledges over the past decades, Ryan gravitated to the lesser-skated ‘bank to rail’. By the time the rest of us were making our way back over from the neighboring Starbucks and the Pasty Shop, Ryan had already constructed the makeshift addition to the spot. Using part of a broken slab which lay discarded at the foot of the adjacent stair set, he got this ollie up (the gap at the foot of the bank), wallie hippie jump within a handful of tries and proceeded to bang them out of repeat until all the media forces were satisfied.
Whilst heading back into central Bristol on a quest for food and drink, Ryan vocalized his interest in the drop in spot he’d spotted from the van earlier. As he climbed up to the drop in point, an army of pissed up lederhosen-clad lunatics whom were deep in Stag Do mode arrived on the scene and did their best to egg him on. To appease the baying mobs, he warmed up for the main event with a regular drop in and the crowds exploded the moment he put all four wheels down on the pavement. Luckily, once the Stag Do had seen some action they headed on their way to the nearest watering hole and left Ryan to get his head around rolling over the edge of the lip into the transitioned wall. By this point the light had all but gone entirely and with camera capabilities being pushed beyond the limits Ryan rolled in.
Having been held at the mercy of both the M5 and M6 for what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived for the Note a signing the best part of two hours behind schedule, right as the clouds unleashed the always-to-be-expected Manchester downpour. Undeterred, the mass of enthusiastic revelers spanning every age and demographic lined up ready to meet their travelling hero’s. With everyone meet’d and greeted and covered in permanent marker an hour or so later, we headed over to The Pumpcage for the demo.
By now most of you will have seen footage and as with most events held within the newer, concrete side of The Cage; the stairs and rail took a right seeing to. Standout tricks would have to be Barney’s ollie over the end of the rail to backside lipslide, Chris Joslin’s kickflip crook and the switch frontside bluntslide by Ryan Lay. With the session coming to a close and having thrown some serious stuff over the rail already, Doogie’s attention turned to the flat bank. Mega popped frontside flip right as the lights came on and the demo was wrapped up.
Barney spent the majority of his time in the UK trying to adapt to a new set of trucks as he’d focused his hanger during a heated mind melt attempting the frontside blunt in Archway. Finally getting to grips with his undercarriage, Barney popped out of the flat bank to lofty frontside wallride on the slippery fence surrounding the park.
With the team flying out to mainland Europe the following morning, my last day with them was spent, for the most part, sheltering from the rain at The Pumpcage again. Having written himself off whilst leaping down the St Paul’s block four in Bristol a few days earlier, Willow got his battered feet working long enough to frontside flip the bank to Jersey barrier.
With the ever-present downpours showing no sign of letting up, Etnies UK rider and Mancunian local Ben Rowles guided us up to the M.E.N. rails. Situated within the main concourse of the Arena, the rails are understandably and immediate and total bust. In preparation for the impending security nause up and in an attempt to give us as many tries as possible, the cameras were set up in the car park and Ben went ahead to check if the coast was clear.
With no visible security or crowds of people around the rail, we rushed it and with a few tries, Chris had reeled off a backside 5050 and backside lipslide. At this point a disgruntled manager of the McDonalds, which is based just out of frame, came storming out flinging the expected threats of security and police at us. Undeterred, Joslin charged through a backside over crook much to her dismay.
With the aforementioned manager of Mackies now on the phone to the security team, it was now or never for Trevor. Having gotten into a few fakie ollie to switch front boardslides whilst all of the chaos was unfolding, the brief let up of harassment allowed him clear access and he put it down before we got a further dressing down. Or at least that’s what we thought…As we were heading back to the van the security team caught up with us and demanded to view the footage. It turns out that the angry manager had made claims of us offering abuse and baiting her on camera. Satisfied with the evidence that we were ‘just skateboarding’, the security let us get on our way. Despite the clouds finally starting to part, my pre-booked train ticket dragged me across town and I bid farewell to our travelling friends.