It’s been a long, long time since the UK has seen an arena-based skateboarding happening anywhere near the scale of last weekend’s Street League London event.
Sure, there was the Nike European Am series relatively recently, which brought a bunch of European heads over to the capital and made a hell of a noise, but those were held inside a pre-existing skatepark and due to their very nature, didn’t attract international pro’s in the numbers that were once an annual event back in the late 1990’s.
We’ve tried hard to think but we’re pretty sure that the last thing on this kind of scale, both in terms of the skaters in attendance and the furore it caused, was probably the Generation 97 event held nearly 20 years ago at Wembley Arena.
Brazil’s Pamela Rosa smashed it all weekend then took one hell of a slam leaving her wincing in pain for the finals. Frontside lipslide whilst grimacing. Photo: Griff
Looked at from that perspective, it’s easy to see how much those of us who grew up skating in the 1990’s took Radlands and its series of international contests for granted.
That generation, who watched skateboarding shrink from the vert-driven 80’s behemoth and survive as the inward-looking, almost invisible anomaly of the early 90’s, were fortunate in many regards, (well if you forget about the Goofy Boy costumes and the 38mm wheels), as we got to experience the era where nobody gave a fuck about skateboarding outside of the people doing it.
Rose-tinted spectacles can be a dangerous accessory if operated incorrectly, but it wouldn’t be over stating the issue to say that one of the most culturally significant and fondly remembered aspects of said era were the Chris Ince-led contests in Northampton that allowed the UK skate scene to meet, watch and skate with pro’s from all over the world. And that is something that hasn’t happened in this country for nearly 20 years since Chris and co tried to make the jump from tacitly ‘allowing’ 100’s of skaters to sleep in a Lidl carpark in Kingsthorpe to a major arena event at Wembley.
It is within that context that last weekend’s inaugural British leg of the traveling circus also known as Street League took place.
“Head sets?” “Yeah, sets, for your head…” Photo: Griff