TRCH Full Monty

Clearing The Gap: Nottingham Skateboarders on Why Age Means Nowt

24 September 18 words: Tom Quigley
illustrations: Mr The Beef
photos: Tom Quigley

On the face of it, skateboarding can seem scary; like some secret club you can only join with a kickflip password. But it’s for anyone and everyone, no matter how old you are. There’s no line that says you can’t be a part of the culture.

Since it’s a relatively young pastime – birthed briefly in the sixties and revolutionised in the seventies – we’ve yet to see just how “old” a skateboarder can be. Although, as the late, great, Jay Adams said, you don’t quit skateboarding because you get old, you get old because you quit skateboarding. We found out how some of our locals started their journey into the culture, and why age don’t mean a thing when it comes to going for a roll...

Kev, 26

“I remember when I was first skating, and everyone was kind of separated in their own skatepark cliques. Then Forty Two, Sneinton Market and Flo Skatepark came along and brought so many people together. All different ages. We’re all there to do the same thing, and people are just accepted. Nottingham is actually quite special for it, I’d say.

There are students at Flo Skatepark that’ve been attending the beginners’ lessons there for more than two years, but you’ll still get new, much younger, students coming in. The older kids are just like ‘Come with us, we’ll show you a thing or two.’ And that’s it. They’re always hanging out from that point onwards.

It’s the same with what Skate Nottingham are doing with the ParkLives lessons at King Edward Skatepark; for the majority of the time you’ll have both fifty-year olds and really young kids having a go. At the end of the sessions, they all say ‘Thank you so much, we had such a good time, we’re gonna get skateboards now.’ A few weeks later you’ll see them down at Sneinton Market.”

Miriam, 10

“I’ve been skating for a year, and I’m best at bowl skating. I skate at Flo Skatepark most of the time, and sometimes I’ll go to King Eddie’s with my friends. My friends at Flo are a couple of years older than me; like twelve, thirteen and fourteen. I got a skateboard for my birthday from my dad’s friend, and then I saw a video of Flo Skatepark and wanted to go. Jol at Flo helped me learn to kickturn and do the simple tricks; I got into it and every week I’ve progressed. I hope it’ll be part of my life forever and I hope that more girls will start skating and come to the Flo sessions. It’s a good skatepark; it has a lot of older people that are really friendly.

I skate with Kevin. He was one of the first people that taught me how to go down the ramp; my first lesson he was teaching me to do loads of things. I can do tricks that not many younger people can do. When I do, they all clap. I also see loads of the older people doing crazy tricks and I just want to do that.”

 

Jack, 16

“I wasn’t good at football or anything, but I picked up skateboarding really fast. I moved to Keyworth where I didn’t know anyone, but there was a skatepark there where I hung out with my older brother and met people. I was about thirteen, hanging out with seventeen- and twenty-year olds. It was pretty cool that they didn’t mind skating with me.

 

The best bit about Nottingham is all the different skateparks; there are so many locals you’ve never met before, who’re happy to skate with you. You can go to Sneinton Market and you don’t even have to message anyone, you just know there’ll be someone skating there. It’s a sick skate scene, you get loads of different types of skaters; from people who do massive gaps and rails, to people who’ve got insanely weird, nameless tricks on flat ground. You could go down Sneinton, and the next day someone will invite you to go to a competition down south. It’s all unexpected. We’ve walked miles to a spot just for a twenty-minute skate before. There isn’t an age limit. You see people at Flo who are over fifty, as well as four-year-old kids with their parents getting involved.”

 

Benno, 42

“My first board came from my Grandma in Switzerland. I spent a lot of time there as a kid in the summer, and I remember watching Marty McFly skating in Back To The Future. It was just sick; him popping his board up, grabbing it and walking up the steps.

In the early nineties, I would get the train to Notts from Grantham ways, and was blown away by the skate scene. I’d come to Broadmarsh Banks, and see people skating the ramp inside the Rollersnakes shop. I was in awe of all the older dudes ripping; it was cool, there was no beef. Old Market Square before Sunday shopping was incredible; the city was dead, quiet, and you could skate everywhere.

I’m now 42, still skating once a week, and I’ve got three daughters. My eldest is five; she’s got a board and cruises about with me. We skate street, skateparks, in the house. It’s rad! The scene now is incredible, and comparable with the city’s heyday in the mid-nineties. You see a lot of older guys like me getting back into it. If you’ve got the energy and space to do it, there’s no reason you can’t.”

 

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