My love for how much fun could be had on 8 wheels
Some of you may already be asking 'but where's part 2 of the we're going to Disney world article?' Don't worry my fellow junkers, it will be coming soon, I was just in the swing of writing this one and didn't want to lose my flow!
Firstly, to get things into perspective, It was the start of our 2nd year of senior school, which would make me about 12, a mate of mine had just been given a set of Roces athen skates handed down to him by his older, cooler, brother.
He turned up one day with them in a bag and wore them at lunch time, skating around the concreted football pitches, jumping over piled up lunch bags, he was already becoming as cool as his brother!
Roces Athens - This guy was joe cool
Luckily for me my birthday was only a few days away, a benefit of being one of the oldest in the year!
So 3 guess's at what was number 1 priority present on my list, that's right, my own set of quad skates!
It was only until I asked for a set that I found out that I was actually part of a speed skating pedigree, my dad and uncle where quite quick in their hay day and it turns out my uncle even represented Great Britain in the commonwealth games!
Well the morning of my birthday came, it was a sunday, and I already knew what was in the biggest present box, I could barely wait to open it up, whip the skates on and head off up the road to show off to all my skate-less mates!
But what are these??
They're not Bauer turbos,
or even Roces Athens,
I am not impressed, they are some no name brand with mushroom bearings and solid plastic basic wheels.
Not as bad as the above but they might of well have been
Boy did I throw my toys out of the pram that morning!
Turns out that my dad, the ex semi-pro, didn't go with my mum to the skate shop to custom my skates and give me top wheels with super bearings, oh no, he thought what she'd pick out would be good enough to learn on.
Well it wasn't I can tell you now.
So this means I've now got to wait another week , my dad cant take me until he's off work next to refund the fisher price wanna-be's and get me sorted out.
So you can imagine now, going to school on Monday skate-less, after bragging that I was getting hooked up for my birthday, I was going to look very stupid indeed!
But do you know what I did?
I told a little porky, well I suppose in a way in was'nt really lying!
I said that my skates we're so good, and that the wheels and bearings my dad had ordered we're on delay due to the high demand up and down the country and that they wouldn't be ready for another week!
Luckily for me, everyone bought it, I had gotten away with it and all I had to do was wait for Saturday to come and I would not have to worry about walking again, rolling to the shops and to friends houses would be my new method of travel.
Now this is it, its Saturday morning, I barely slept because I was thinking of what colour scheme I wanted my skates, laces, stoppers, cheese blocks and wheels, wandering what hockey socks I was going to get, I couldn't contain my excitement, my brain was in overdrive!
"Dean, its 9o'clock, its time to go if your up" I heard my dad call from downstairs
"Yeah im up, give me a sec ill just get ready and ill be down"
But I was already dressed, I'd been dressed for hours, I didn't want him to know I'd had a sleepless night!
We hopped in the car and went to the skating holy ground, the shop that everyone was talking about, "Skate Attack" in Southgate
Skate Attack - I want those, those, those, those and those
It really didn't take me long to pick what I wanted when we was there, I wanted Bauer turbos, SKF bearings, 4 blue and 4 red Krypto cruisers (which I later upgraded to sims street snakes) with blue cheese blocks and red stoppers.
I just went with white laces to match the inner boots and decided against hockey socks, they looked too nice and shiny to cover up.
I was very happy indeed.
As soon as I got home I put them straight on and headed to my mates who had his older brothers skates, we became a force to be reckoned with!
I picked it up very quickly, a little wobbly at first but whizzing around like a pro by the afternoon.
His brother was showing us some floor tricks, tic tac, fairy spins, back skating and side surfing, but that got too easy after a few hours so we constructed a make shift ramp with a sheet of ply and some milk crates, we was going hardcore, we wanted to learn to jump properly and show everyone what we was made of.
It didnt quite look like this but it was good for a first attempt
A few months had passed and Christmas was coming, a few more people had gotten skates and we had started to become a skating gang.
We'd seen street hockey on tv and wanted a piece of the action, there wasn't enough of us yet to play full teams so we was hoping on old Father Christmas to supply all our mates with skates and sticks to join us, which he did.
When the New Year came in there was like another 10 people in our year at school now on rollers.
We were ready to get a game underway.
Sticks at the ready gentlemen
We all used to skate at my mates estate, it was great, not very busy and a fair size with plenty of car parking space for us to commandeer and make into our hockey pitch.
It also had a lot of access ramps, low walls and steps for us all to jump when we was feeling brave.
We met up quite regularly and alternated between a puck and a ball. It was quite physical as you can imagine with a large group of adolescent teenagers!
Lets get ready to rumble!
Unfortunalty for me the novelty wore off pretty quick, I wasn't getting my kick out of roller hockey, I needed to find my fix another way, but how?
I had heard that the local sports hall in Pickets Lock opened its doors on a Friday night to skaters, it was dubbed Roller Mania, they had a dj playing the latest club tunes, which at the time was Drum and Bass / Jungle.
I had thought to myself though "whats the point, all you'll be doing all night is skating in circles, that can't be much fun"
Oh how wrong I was!
I went up one night with two mates, paid my 5quid to get in and POW!!!
It hit me, my eyes where opened to a new world, there were skaters, lots of skaters, most of them older than me and my mates, and they were good, very good.
The music was loud, the skating was fast, the girls were hot, the atmosphere was electric and I was loving it.
I was a fan of drum and bass already but now im actually out listening to it being played live in the mix, a teenager in a night club on skates, it made the music that little bit more sweeter.
I went straight onto the floor, I wanted to prove that just because I was young that I wasn't any good, because I was, I was quite handy on skates thanks to my few months of practising.
Heavy heavy tunes with deep and dirty b-lines
They had speed skating sessions for the pros (of course I took part) they played games like bulldog, skate from one side of the rink to the other with out getting tabbed by a marshal, and they even had my favourite event, the long jump.
Kind of like that, just without sand and landing on your behind
How you ask?
4 cones, 2 set a small distance apart from the other 2, a line of skaters would queue for their chance to show everyone what they were made of.
It was simple, jump over the distance set by the cones and land it, hit a cone and your out, fall over and your out.
Once everyone had jumped, they would spread the cones further apart, and elimination would begin again.
Once it was just down to two skaters, they would jump for pride, glory and bragging rights, the dj would even play a certain record when it was down to just two, it had the rocky sample in the intro, and just hit in with some heavy bass line, I remember it well.
I did manage to make the final a few times in my time going, with me coming out victorious only twice.
There was this other guy you see, he was the ying to my yang, the black to my white, the Simon to my Garfunkle, my nemesis.
He was a few years older than me, taller than me and that little bit better, when ever he was there I would never win long jump, he was really good, jerk.
After a few months I wanted more, so we ventured into deepest darkest North London, Edmonton to be precise, there was a rumour that a few hardcore skaters had rented this industrial unit out and made it skater safe and opened it to the public, it was Roller Mania, but better, it was bigger, louder and they had more there, lockers, burger bar, mini skate shop and benches to rest and watch.
This place was called Roller City, they had the usual dj playing not only Drum and Bass, but rnb, hip hop, house, hardcore and even techno on certain nights.
They too played bulldog and had a speed skating session, but no long jump, oh no they had an ace up there sleeve, they had there own three piece ramp.
Like this, just bigger, much bigger
It was a quarter pipe, main box and sloping ramp, it must have been about 5ft tall and I wanted it, I wanted to conquer it, this was where I would get that buzz I had been looking for since that first day me and dad go back from skate attack.
I was going to kill it.
It was the same set up as long jump at roller mania, queue up, take it in turns, do not skate towards the ramp until the person in front was clear.
I had a little experience with ramps as I mentioned, but nothing like this, this is what I had dreamed of.
The first few weeks I would take a fast approach, do a single skate hold jump and go for distance, after time though I would get braver, go for more height, try to touch the exposed metal sections that held up the roof, then came the turns, 180's, 360's and my party piece, the great 540!
I felt home here, Roller city was great for me, I soon started making friends with the older crowds, becoming a recognised face, one of the regulars, I loved it.
But unfortunately I made a few silly decisions in school friends, started hanging around in the wrong crowd, I lost touch of skating and we fell apart.
I sold my beloved Bauer's for cigarette money and became a typical trouble making teenager.
We all live and learn
We didn't smash windows or rob old ladies, nothing to that degree, but It did lead my grades dropping at school and a few family arguments.
But this story doesn' end on a bad note, no one likes that.
I saw what I was doing wasn't helping me so a turned a new leaf and got my head down and moved on from that life style.
The forgotten victim though was my love for skating.
But recently this love has been rekindled, I caught wind of a roller disco in South London, the website looked great, unfotunatly it wasn't drum and bass, more like 70's and 80's disco. That didn't bother me though, I just wanted an excuse to skate again.
Could this be my new venue?
My new playground
Me and my brother decided to set a Saturday night aside and go, but I wasn't planning on using their rentals, not with my skating history.
I hit ebay, and hard, I wanted size 10 Bauer turbos, nothing less.
There was nothing, none in my size, but then I came across these "boxed hardly used size 11 Bauer turbos"
Oh well so they might not have been my size but I could always double up on my socks, they'll be ok.
Damn they're soo pretty
So I contacted the seller, what a result, they lived 20 miles away,
"I'll give you 50quid tonight and collect them if you take them off ebay now" I said to the guy
"ok" he said "I was after a quick sale anyway"
So on my way home from work I ventured over to meet up with this guy, I wanted these soo bad!
Turned up at the address, the guy came to the door before I even had a chance to knock and there they where, my new skates.
Goods and cash were handed over and I was on my way, grinning to myself for the remainder of my journey, please in the knowledge that I was going to be doing what I enjoyed so much again.
When I got home things got better, the skates were in a1 condition and not a size 11 like he said, they were 10's!!!!!
They must have been in the wrong box or something but the fit perfectly.
Wheels where a bit rubbish, but I did a internet search, surely someone still sells wheels for quads, and low and behold there is, but wait?
It can't be!
Skate attack is still trading!!
Again the thought of brightly coloured wheels and laces had me thinking, I was 12 turning 13 again, what colour scheme would I go for this time?
So no doubt I headed back to the place that started off my skating career, and it was as good as I remember it!
I treated me and my new love to new wheels, bearings, laces, and cheese blocks how could I resist!
And the colour scheme you ask?
Well I thought as homage to my first pair that I sold in stupidity, I would go blue and red again.
Red and blue 2 tone air waves, red abec 5 bearings, red cheese blocks and white laces with a hint of blue.
And of course, no hockey socks!
Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?
Me and my brother donned some retro outfits and headed off to the roller disco.
Me, with my secret weapons, got some 80's neon accessories, "Frankie say relax" t-shirt and spiked my hair in an old school style.
My brother, who would be using rentals, was going for a Miami vice look, although he couldn't find a white sports jacket, so just donned a white shirt and rolled the sleeves up
Looking good, dont you agree?
Not quite the full Miami Vice but you get the idea
It was a great night, I found my feet straight away and it was like ive never been off them. A few little 180's, and side surfing and a bit of back skating.
I was complete again.
Im at home again
Needless to say ive been to the roller disco quite a few times since I learned of its existence last year and I even skate to the gym when its not raining outside.
It just makes sense, its like a warm up before I get there!
I do enjoy the slow skate back too, with my Ipod on playing some old school drum and bass tunes, just how it should be, reminding me of when nothing else mattered to me...
...apart from jumping further than you!
Thanks to Roller Mania, Roller City, Skate Attack, Renaissance Rooms in Vauxhall and google images to fill in the blanks