From 1989 till early 91 there was a private skatepark in a giant warehouse smack bang in the middle of Fremantle. In this era there were no public facilities in the metropolitan area. There was a hipped mini in Kwinana, but the majority of our terrain was either private parks in warehouses or the actual streets. Several such facilities popped up over the period of a year, but within 12-18 months they were all gone. A huge chunk of the locals stopped skating as a result of this change in the skateable landscape.
Whilst The Edge reigned, skateboarding was at the tale end of the Vert-inspired boom of the late eighties. Demos at The Edge were one of the only ways to stay up to date with any advancements that were happening overseas. Videos were pretty much only an annual thing and by the time they got here magazines were up to a year out of date. During the era of The Edge we received visits from greats of the era such as Tony Hawk, Natas Kaupas and Chris Miller. But, nothing prepared us for the paradigm shift we saw with the arrival of Jason Lee and Mark Gonzales.
Just prior to this bLind was really not much more than a rumour. The boards only rocked up in the shop in the weeks that approached the demo. We knew that bLind featured Gonz (already an established legend) and Jay Lee (the up and coming ‘tech’ new comer) but no one was ready for what they were going to unleash on our brains.
I remember when they first walked in; it was like seeing skaters from the future. To begin with Gonz had a pair of Jordans on and Jason Lee had some unreleased Airwalk prototypes. We seldom saw Jordans but those Airwalks were out of this world. Their legs were covered in pants called Limpies which were incredibly baggy for the time (Jason Lee is actually wearing what looks like the same pair in his first bLind ad). We could only dream of owning flowing plaid fabrics such as these! Their t-shirts were probably also slightly baggy for the time. But outfits aside, it was their actual skateboards that really blew our minds. They didn’t even make sense to our diminutive brains. Boards at the time had only really just progressed from the stumpy three-inch noses of the eighties. Gonz and Jason rocked up riding their new models, which looked rather odd! The noses were huge (probably only just above 4 inches – but this was a whopper for the time). Up to this point people had been riding flat noses and sure there was occasional kick nose or symmetrical double kick, but these were the first tastes of the shapes we take for granted today. As nollies and nose-based tricks became staples, we needed more room to play with on the front of the board so even though the modifications made perfect sense, but it didn’t stop their setups looking other worldish. Another thing was their wheels. Most people had been riding 58mm to 63mm up until this time. What did Jason have? 55mm Gizmos. Not only were they small. But they were back the front. The more-rounded inside of the wheel was the chosen as the outer rim by Jason and Gonz, Soon all wheels would have this profile on both sides! I can’t think of a time where we were more fascinated with two pros set-ups. We were literally transfixed.
Wild boards aside the fellows took to The Edge as if they had spent months there. At the time a few of us could flip our board, but no one was doing 360 flips (known now as a tré or a three flip). Jason Lee did them everywhere. Backside on the bank, to fakie on the volcano ramp and even on the flat. He also did a kickflip and a backside five o to blunt pop in on the six-foot mini. Gonz was bouncing around between every single piece of terrain that the Edge had to offer. Blasting wallrides out of the bowl, stale fishes on the metal monster vert ramp and of course his patented eggplants. I am pretty sure they were so far ahead of the pack that we barely understood a single trick that they did. Within six months of their visit the Blind video had dropped and we were able to own a blueprint for what skateboarding was to become.- MC