London Calling is a unique 4-day event from August 17-20, celebrating the 1970’s UK skateboard scene and will see the biggest ever get together of skaters from that period. SOURCE interviewed Steve Douglas one of the founders of the event to spill the beans.
The Slam blog interview/article by Neil Macdonald covers so much of what this is occurring this weekend in London, but we managed to speak with Steve Douglas before the ‘London Calling’ event began to find out more about the weekend’s exhibition at ‘Pure Evil Gallery’ in Shoreditch and the following days activities.
What’s brought on the idea for doing this?
The general premise is to bring together and highlight the unseen images/ heroes of the first era of British skateboarding. I will say – what’s been interesting about this whole thing is the guys’ reactions. When I started reaching out in March some people were excited, many were lukewarm and some said no. Now, all of those people are coming: as in, over the last couple of weeks, they’ve changed their tune and realised they can’t miss this, and that is pretty humbling. We’ve just seen such a massive influx of people. Two weeks ago, we thought Mark Sinclair was going to miss this, and that was obviously out of our control, so I had to put it out of my mind and carry on. And then suddenly Mark reached out, and that’s huge because he’s such a big part of this whole thing.
One of the goals of this is to elevate British skateboarding, celebrating things like Jeremy Henderson and Mark Sinclair’s interview in Skateboarder. At first, I thought Mark wasn’t going to be there; and now he’s coming! He’s been writing to me and wants to get a board and skate. The same with Tim Dunkerley – he said he wouldn’t be able to and then a week later, he turned around and said he can’t miss it! I’ve been keeping in contact with these guys – trying to get hold of some of them for 6/7 months and as soon as I finally reach them, they’re booking flights.
I’m exited for these guys because they’ll miss out if they don’t come. This kind of thing has not happened before and is probably not going to happen again, especially not at this magnitude.
It’s their celebration and I’m super proud to be a part of it.
It’s not my event – it’s skateboarding’s event. One of the key things in the Slam interview was what Jeremy Henderson said to me: “Thanks for reminding the people of what we did so they don’t forget about us” it was one of the saddest things I’d heard! Seeing Jeremy skate in the 70’s was incredible. Yes, he was American, but he was our American you know? He spent 7.5 years here, he cut his teeth in London.
How did the UK influence Californian skateboarding?
There was definitely an edgy, grittiness that contributed to the sculpting of UK skateboarding, when compared to the pristine conditions and influences of California and hopefully Friday’s forum will discuss more of this.
One big thing I want to do is elevate the British skate scene – we’ve never had anyone in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, and I can’t believe that. Hopefully this event elevates the guys that should be in there and could potentially be a catalyst for getting someone in there!
The timeline of British skateboarders in mind-blowing, going from Mark Sinclair all the way to Casper Brooker. The same goes with the media, spots and brands in the industry. Where was a better skate scene outside of California? Of course, Germany and Sweden – to name but a few – have been a driving force with some incredible companies, but nowhere has had as much of an impact outside of California as British skateboarding.
Neil Macdonald (@Scienceversuslife) is a national treasure, and he’s compiled a zine of interviews with so many new interviews of 70’s skateboarders, along with never-seen-before photographs. This will probably become a book at some point; there’s also great potential for it to become a documentary. We have to document these guys, otherwise we may never hear their words. We’re planning to run interviews every 45 minutes throughout the weekend to make sure these guys can share their stories.
So what is the premise of Friday’s forum?
There will be a livestream of Friday’s forums- the first being focused on the UK skate scene, the second being focused on the influence of the US on the UK skate scene. The panel will consist of some of the pioneering skaters of the era, alongside photographers like ‘King James’ who famously photographed Henderson and Sinclair. These photographs are one of the cornerstones of the exhibition, as these are never before seen photos.
The 70’s guys were so good – we had a lot of the American pros like Alva coming over, which of course influenced British skateboarding at the time, so we always had this strong connection with California. But if we were to ask why the UK has this amazing thing, it’s because of the 70s guys. So that’s what this event is about – it’s a personal thank you to these guys. They influenced us, and then we influenced other people.
One day was never going to be enough for this kind of gathering, and so we decided to make a whole weekend, albeit a very packed one. Some will dip in & dip out and that’s absolutely fine. It’s going to be a time to be able to hear stories and talk to others who may have not seen each other in years.
We made a list of 70’s and 80’s skateboarder, and broke it down into regions, so we had a network of people contacting each other’s old contacts trying to gather everyone together through Facebook and over the phone. And this ended up with us selling out Friday’s forum pretty instantly, which led to us having to add more to the weekend’s festivities. Saturday will be a Southbank celebration (with skating of course), followed by Devo playing a show to end their world tour. Closing off the weekend on Sunday, there will be a skate session over at Crystal Palace Skatepark, with photoshoots where the old Vert Ramp once lay.
It is most definitely going to be one for the books, and with all the hard work Steve, Neil and the guys have put into sourcing all this nostalgia and people alike, it’s not one to miss!
You can find more information on the London Calling event on their website: LondonCallingSkateboardingUK.com