The old style skateboards from the 1980s are back, being re-issued to a market of nostalgia-fuelled middle aged guys who have tried to get with the new popsicle-style flippy skinny things, and just aren’t comfortable.
The resurgence of pools and big ramps
Brand new skateparks are cropping up in every town that has teenagers, and older skaters with the influence and knowhow to get some serious skate architecture built. Made with love, care and attention to detail, the modern skatepark caters for all styles of skating, from pool rider to handrail grinder.
These places are a big draw for the older skater, especially those that were raised on the bowls and big ramps of the 80s. Many have arrived with their kids at one of these places and been transported back in time to their youth, and decided on the spot to get back into skating again.
And if you want to skate like you used to, you’re going to want an old school skateboard like the one you’re familiar with.
For those of us getting back in to skating after a hiatus of 10, 15 , even 20 years, a skinny popsicle complete board from the local skate shop probably won’t fill you with much confidence.
What’s the big difference?
The big difference is width. At the widest (near the front truck) they’re around 10″, with a nice concave, tapering down toward the tail, and then like a fish, a wider tail with a squared-off rear end.
When you’re up on the vertical section of a transition, it feels nice to have lots of shoe in contact with the board. This was the design for pool and vert riding boards from around 1978 to around 1990 (commonly known as ‘pig boards’). This Tommy Guerrero (shown left) is now a collector’s classic, which is reflected in the price.
There was a bust period from 1990 – 1995, and the popsicle stick board was born. Typically more for street skating, and the ollie-based tricks, getting down steps, boardsliding handrails and benches etc. It’s like a hybrid of the pre-1978 pool board (around 7″-8″ wide), but longer, usually 30″ – 34″. The wheels were usually small and hard to keep the weight down to make kickflipping easier. No tapering, same width all the way down the sides, and in fact symmetrically designed in terms of the kick on the nose and tail. (switch-stance tricks became de rigeur in the 90’s – sure, you could do the trick one way, but can you do it ‘switch’? – basically all notion of forwards and backwards on a skateboard was becoming more vague.
Where did they go?
The bust period in the early 90s informed the style and tricks that were being performed.
A whole group of guys and girls who made up the skateboarding population from the 1970s through the 80s and into the early 90’s had hung up their kneepads and gone home to get on with their families, jobs and other commitments. (see ‘am i too old to skateboard?’)
That left the new kids on the block to pick up where they left off, develop the technical aspects of skating (see tech dogs Rodney Mullen vs Daewon Song) tight trucks, thinnner lighter poppy boards with reversible nose/tails and small hard wheels.
You’re going to find it easier to 360 flip one of these than a Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp 10″ fishtail pool board with 64mm wheels and grab rails.
Basically the fashion had moved on, the old pigs were put out to pasture, and the tech kids were flipping into the 2000s.
Do I need one?
These days, a lot of guys turn up to skateparks with a couple of setups. One big wide deck, loose trucks for pool riding, and a thinner, lighter smaller-wheeled setup with tighter trucks for hitting the street section, and nailing the ollie-based tricks. They might even have a longboard in the boot of the car. (or, god forbid, some inline skates and a scooter).
In these days of fluidity, all forms of skating are welcome at most skateparks, from the complete newbie, to the aging veteran, and everyone in between. Chances are you’ll find someone with a completely different setup to yours, and most skaters I know are happy to let someone have a go on their board. It’s usually the only way to find out what you really like skating. Don’t just settle for the generic setup you’re sold in the skateshop, we’re all different and require different shapes and sizes to ride.
If you know you’re going to be solely riding pools and are coming back to skating after giving up and becoming a responsible adult in the early 90’s, you’re probably going to want something like you were always used to. I succumbed to fashion in the early 2000s and had to buy a whole new setup in order to get back into it after a few years break, and I couldn’t quite ever feel comfortable with either my toe or heel hanging off the side of the deck, while the board felt like it was going to tip over instead of turn when I leaned. I gave that board to my 8 year old nephew, it actually suits him far better than it suited me.
Will they look good on my wall?
Yes, an old school skateboard deck will look like a piece of art on your wall, and you can even buy the correct hangers for them. I’m not keen on this approach though, I believe a skateboard deserves to be ridden. It reminds me of when you go to a themed restaurant and see an old blues guitar screwed to the wall. – It makes me want to take it down, fix it up and make it play music again. It’s great to see the beautiful graphics on these boards in pristine condition again, but as we now know, what goes around comes around, and there will proabably always be a market for the classic decks of old.
Reconnecting with skating’s past
The current trend for reissue decks demonstrates the longevity of skateboarding, and it’s potential as a force for cultural change. Skate art has always trickled into the mainstream, and there are countless examples of it in the fashion media, selling clothes and a counter-cultural lifestyle by way of having models hang on to a brand spanking new skateboard, or even worse – pretend to be riding it with a ‘hang loose’ hand gesture and a gnarly facial expression.
Skateboarding is still really in its infancy, the skaters from the 70s and 80s are enjoying their time in the sun again. For the first time in its history, skating has come full circle and has fully grown old timers like us still hankering for the prized possessions of our youth. I remember as a teenager settling for a cheaper board and wheels because I couldn’t afford to go the full Bones Brigade setup. Now I’ve got a full time job, and the kids are growing up, I might just treat myself to the setup of my teenage dreams.
Here are some of the classic Powell Peralta decks that have the over 40’s drooling, currently available on Amazon. Click on the picture to go to the listing. (Or go and visit your local skate shop)