5 Not So Great things about Skateboarding in the Nineties
Nineties Nostalgia is back in full force. People love to reference the good things about the nineties like: snapback hats, good hip-hop, raw street skating, camo pants, Half Cabs, Big Brother, Slap, Mad Circle, Menace and the old World Industries. In 2014 nearly everyone is claiming to be a nineties skating aficionado. However, those of us that skated back then remember that there were a lot of things from the early nineties that were not-so-great. We’ve compiled a short list of “5 Not So Great things about Skateboarding in the Nineties” trends that thankfully haven’t come back in style.
5 Not So Great things about Skateboarding in the Nineties
5 – 42” Jeans – All of a sudden you had to have massive jeans, we are not sure the exact moment this happened, but we believe it was around 1992. Around then New Deal came out with “Big Deals”, they were one of the first massively huge trousers in the skate world. Around this same time Blind released their infamous Blind Jeans that came already cut off at the bottom. For those less privileged skaters who couldn’t afford the latest skate brand fashions they took matters into their own hands.
Basically, steal a pair of your Grandfather’s 42 inch waist trousers, cut them off so they are about 28 inches long and cinch them up with an adjustable army belt. Seeing as how the average 13 year-old boy isn’t skilled in the ways of a professional tailor often times you would cut your trousers off too short. No matter, just sag them down below your butt and the jeans will fit perfectly. If your jeans didn’t surround your Airwalk Ones completely then they were too tight.
Oh and make sure your jeans/trousers were the brightest colour possible: purple Blind jeans, Mustard Big Deals, Red Plan B pants and Green Fuct pants were a must-have. Shorts at this time were also ridiculous. Just imagine them being neon-green and 5 inches shorter than the trousers described above.
4 – Small Wheels> – The smaller they are the cooler it is’ was the common mind-set back then. There was a time in the early nineties that the average wheel size was 42mm. But lo and behold some companies decided to take it even smaller: Bullet had 38 Specials, Stereo had 37mm Quarter Notes and even Spitfire had 37mm Fireballs. The wheels were so small, but they were the same price as bigger wheels. With a smaller diameter you wore out the wheels extra quick and also got flat spots extra-easily.
At least Real sold you 6 wheels for the price of 4. Yeah, small wheels were great for noseslide to crooks combos but consequently everyone skated at a steamroller’s pace. Julien Stranger and Rick Ibaseta were the lone rangers of fast skating back then. And I feel the worst for the Vert guys. Arguably small wheels were the downfall of Vert skating – with no more 9-10 foot airs it seemed like most people just lost interest. Small wheels just slowed everyone down.
3 – Focusing Boards – World Industries’ Rubbish Heap came out in late 89’. By the time that VHS video made it to every kid’s household it was 1990 and the skate world was introduced to focusing boards via that first filmed stomp by Jeremy Klein of Rodney Mullen’s freestyle board. Although focusing was invented by Mike Daher’s brother George many have said it was all part of Steve Rocco’s plan to get kids to break their boards so they would have to buy more.
Regardless if that’s true or not once someone saw a board being focused for the first time this inevitably led to that person trying it out themselves. It was exciting focusing boards, but it proved expensive! A deck was about £50 in 1990 and although that’s not too different from what it is now consider the fact that prices and wages were much lower back then. A can of Coke cost 30p in 1990!
2 – Shoes – In the beginning of the nineties everyone was skating in Airwalks, Vans SK8-Hi’s, or Converse Chuck Taylors. All the skate shoes at the time were high-tops so you could ‘protect’ your ankles. But in what seems like overnight everyone decided that they wanted to skate in low-tops.
Of course this took the skate shoe companies at the time by surprise. No one really wanted to skate in the Airwalk NTS’s because they looked too high, ugly and bulky. Intuitive skaters started cutting down their skate shoes themselves and making them into low-tops on their own with varying results.
Skateboarders in the early nineties also tried to seek out old Puma Clydes and Shell Toes that could only be found at flea markets and vintage shops. The skate shoe companies couldn’t react quick enough, it took them 18 months to develop low-top skate shoes.
In the meantime skate footwear was all over the shop: Cut-down Airwalks, Adidas Shell Toes a size too small, indoor football shoes, Adidas Gazelles, Converse Dr. J’s, Vans Full-Cabs cut down into Half Cabs, etc. A lot of these shoes were extremely hard to get a hold of so if you got a pair you did your best make them last with shoe goo, gaffer tape, and model glue. Skate footwear in the early nineties was a sad state of affairs.
1 – Everyone hated skateboarders – As it was mentioned earlier, skateboarders were constantly being made fun of in the early nineties. I mean, we didn’t do ourselves any favours what with the bleached blonde hair, XXL Tees, massive sagged Green Plan B trousers and chain wallets.
Looking back we looked a bit, but at the time we were in our own privy world of coolness. The amount of fights we got into and abuse we received from the public was almost unbearable. “Fuck off skater!” and “Skate or die dude!” was constantly being yelled at us by passing jocks, preps and chavs.
You just couldn’t win back then: your parents were angry because you cut up the legs of the brand new jeans they had just bought you, your teachers at school were constantly getting on your case about sagging your pants, and the police kept kicking you out of your local curb spot. Also, being a skateboarder in 1992 didn’t exactly help you pull the ladies. Skateboarding was not considered cool at all. Skateboarding wasn’t mainstream back then like it is now. There was no Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game, no skateboarding on TV, and no corporate shoe deals.
A pro skateboarder in 1992 made less than minimum wage and there was minimal fame. But still, we continued to skate because we loved it. Skateboarding wasn’t so great in the early nineties, but I’m still glad it happened for the experiences we had. Today in skateboarding anything goes…no complies are cool, bonelesses and wallrides are fun and people wear a wide range of fashions and nobody cares. Nineties nostalgia is big right now, but luckily some of the trends in the early nineties will not come back. We had to go through this phase in skateboarding to get to where we are today.
So the next time you head down to your local skatepark and get high-fives from your friends after doing a no-comply lipslide on the ledge, just remember how lucky you are as this could never have happened in 1992. Skateboarders were too close-minded back then. That trick would have been ILLEGAL!