Do you remember the giant retro UFO that used to sit just West of the Perth Train Station and across the road from the Telstra building? The Perth Entertainment Centre is another one of those West Australian buildings that was bulldozed just as it finally became cool. Sure I am positive that many of you could design something more attractive than this serrated Frisbee of a building, but you have to admit that it has some kind of charm. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s you would often end up there to see “a rock concert” or some kind of lame school holiday musical shenanigans. For me though, the most rememberable events to ever go down at the Entertainment Centre were those that featured skateboarding.
1988 ALVA DEMO
The first time I saw a whole skateboard team was at the Perth Entertainment Centre. It was the Alva team – yeah they were there dripped in tattoos, hair, leather and spiked belts. I don’t actually know if the skate world has ever seen the likes of the Alva team again. There was a brief flash of an era where Reynolds, Greco and Ali were deep in their leather phase. But did they look like a dreadlocked bikie gang? No. they were tame when compared to the Alva mob. They were all there that day: Fred Smith, Dave Duncan, Jim Murphy, Bill Dan Forth Eddie Reteagui and my favourite Jeff Hartsell.
The day prior they skated the city they did a demo at Ken Vidler’s Cottesloe. Pretty typical set up for that time: a jump ramp in a carpark. I have vivid memories of Jeff Hartsell skating a kerb there. He would skate across the carpark fakie (this was prior to the real arrival of switch) and just slam into the curb with his tail. His forward (more like backward) momentum would induce this lengthy tailslide; sometimes I swear he would taste a bit of switch crook on the way through. This is a move that I try and emulate to this very day and it was pretty much the only taste of street skating that I got during the weekend of the Alva team. The next day we went “up to the city” as they were skating the Entertainment Centre. The place wasn’t nearly as packed as when I saw Australian Crawl there in 1983. But there was a small, yet rowdy crowd all gazing down at a Vert Ramp. The Alva team weren’t really the most explosive guys on a ramp, but fuck they looked good. We sat around and watched a bunch of tricks we didn’t really understand and probably went and skated the Concert Hall Banks or the AMP Building.
1997 SKAWA WORKSHOPS
It wasn’t until 1997 that we were allowed back in the PEC with skateboards. Admittedly this was a whole different experience. As you may know during the 90’s the city’s closest decent park was in Albany. The Skateboarding Association of WA was set up to help give WA skaters a voice and usher in some facilities. SKAWA was a little bit like the SWA of today – but it was a non-profit. There were several ways that we went about raising awareness – there were demos (like the Kareem and Daewon at the Freo Passenger Terminal) and there were also learn-to-skate workshops. This is eons before you had to have personal liability insurance or anyone had the audacity of calling you a coach. One such workshop took place in January of 1997. I had just returned from Scotland and my average daily temperature had skyrocketed from -2 degrees to 37 over night. The 40 degree temp hike had got the better of me and I distinctly remember being as sick as a dog this day. In fact I was sicker than a dog. I can’t remember too much aside from my bung head. Luckily Ben Gregory filmed the sessions. Clinton Walton was obviously on fire – and I’m not just talking about his peroxided hair and white pants – back then a kicker-to-kicker backside flip was a serious pro move. Also in the mix were the perpetually stylish Brett Margaritis, the legendary Grantley Miller and a much longer-locked Ben McLachlan. You will also see a photographer snapping pics of us while we are skating. That was Aaron Brown – he was the trooper who caught a train out to shoot Perth and Freo locals a year before in 1996 and he was back to shoot some more a year later. He really helped the skaters in our state come up and opened so many opportunities for all of us. Thanks Brownie!
When the Perth Entertainment Centre was finally demolished in 2011 I am sure a bunch of people celebrated as it was definitely one of the most ridiculed buildings in our city. I remember looking in through the back doors at what was a half demolished building. I could almost see (and smell) the leather clad Alva demo from quarter of a century earlier.
Skaters in order of appearance: Clinton Walton, Morgan Campbell, Grantley Miller, Brett Margaritis and Ben McLachlan.
Filmed by: Ben Gregory
Words: Morgan Campbell