Skateboarding is not just a sport; it’s a way of life. For those who have embraced its thrills and spills, it’s a culture, an art form, and a journey of self-expression. At the heart of skateboarding’s evolution lies the charm of old-school skateboards. In this essay, we’ll explore the enduring appeal of these classic boards, their historical significance, and the resurgence of interest in old-school skateboarding in recent years.
A Glimpse into Skateboarding’s Past
Skateboarding’s roots can be traced back to the early 1950s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that it truly began to take off. The first skateboards were simple planks of wood with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. It was the Dogtown Z-Boys of Venice Beach, California, who pushed the boundaries of skateboarding in the 1970s. These pioneering skateboarders, including Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, and Jay Adams, rode on clay wheels and used vintage wooden boards, giving birth to the old school skateboards which led to the new modern skateboard culture.
The 1970s marked a pivotal moment for skateboarding. Innovations like urethane wheels and kicktails revolutionized skateboard design. Kicktails allowed skaters to perform tricks, and urethane wheels provided a smoother ride. This era set the stage for the emergence of old-school skateboards.
Old School Skateboard Features
Old-school skateboards are characterized by several distinct features that set them apart from contemporary skateboards:
Single Kicktail: Unlike modern skateboards with double kicktails, old-school boards typically have a single kicktail at the rear. This design allows for greater control during tricks and manoeuvres.
Wide Decks: Old school decks are wider, providing more surface area for foot placement. This makes it easier to balance and execute tricks.
Concave Design: The concave shape of the deck allows for a better grip and control of the board.
Small, Hard Wheels: Old-school skateboards often feature small, hard wheels that provide less grip but are perfect for smooth, fast rides.
Artistic Graphics: The graphics on old-school boards often reflect the aesthetic of the era. Designs range from bold, vibrant colours to quirky, offbeat illustrations.
The Nostalgia Factor
Old-school skateboards evoke a sense of nostalgia for many skateboarders. Those who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s often have fond memories of riding these classic boards. There’s a romanticized sentiment associated with old-school skateboards, a reminder of simpler times when skateboarding was more about the pure joy of riding.
The appeal of nostalgia is not limited to those who experienced the era firsthand. Younger skateboarders are also drawn to the charm of old school skateboards, yearning to connect with the roots of the sport and explore the creativity and simplicity of that time.
Riding for the Pure Joy of It
One of the central attractions of old-school skateboarding is the emphasis on pure, unadulterated enjoyment. While contemporary skateboarding is highly competitive and skill-oriented, old-school skateboarding harks back to the days when it was about having fun and exploring the world on a board.
Old school skateboarders often find themselves drawn to empty swimming pools, ditches, and empty streets, seeking the sheer joy of carving, riding fast, and catching air. These skateboarders embody the original spirit of the sport, rejecting the confines of skate parks and competitive events in favour of the open road.
The Resurgence of Old School Skateboarding
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in old-school skateboarding. Skateboard brands, both established and new, have recognized the demand for classic board designs and have reintroduced them to the market. These reissued old-school boards capture the essence of the original designs while incorporating contemporary manufacturing techniques.
The resurgence of old-school skateboarding has also been driven by a desire for authenticity. Many skateboarders are drawn to the original, raw experience of skating without the bells and whistles of modern equipment. Riding an old-school skateboard is a way of paying homage to skateboarding’s roots.
Art and Culture
Old-school skateboarding is not just about riding vintage boards; it’s also about embracing the art and culture that emerged during that era. Skateboard graphics from the 1970s and 1980s have become iconic, and artists who designed these graphics, such as Jim Phillips and Vernon Courtlandt Johnson, are celebrated figures in skateboarding history.
The graphics on old-school boards often featured bold and vibrant designs, reflecting the counterculture spirit of the time. These designs have not only stood the test of time but have also influenced contemporary skateboard art and culture.
Community and Camaraderie
Old-school skateboarding fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among skateboarders. Enthusiasts often come together for group rides, skate jams, and events that celebrate the spirit of old-school skateboarding. These gatherings offer a sense of belonging and a shared appreciation for the simple pleasures of the sport.
Old-school skateboarders of all ages unite to share stories, swap board recommendations, and connect over their mutual love for the classic boards. The sense of community mirrors the close-knit skateboarding scene of the 1970s and 1980s.
Conclusion: Riding the Waves of Time
Old-school skateboarding is more than just a trend; it’s a rekindling of the timeless spirit of the sport. It reminds skateboarders of all ages of the joy, creativity, and camaraderie that drew them to skateboarding in the first place.
Whether it’s the vintage designs, the simple pleasure of carving an empty pool, or the vibrant skateboard culture of the past, old school skateboarding offers a fresh perspective on the sport. It allows skateboarders to ride the waves of time and rediscover the roots of a culture that continues to inspire and unite skateboarders worldwide. In a world that often thrives on the new and the innovative, old school skateboarding stands as a reminder that sometimes, the past holds the keys to the purest form of joy.