CALIFORNIA SKATEBOARDING THROUGH LENS – HUGH HOLLAND

One of my biggest frustrations has to do with skateboarding. Do you remember Marty McFly in Back to the Future breaking a soapbox car and creating a skateboard out of it? Well I had a crush on this sport ever since.

Unfortunately its practice has started becoming popular recently, and it has to do more with a fashion trend rather than with the sport itself. Let’s say skateboarding here is for posh and cool people nowadays in Spain. Barcelona is currently full of boards, there are some shitty skate rinks and parks, but the credit has to be given to foreign youngsters.

Pity now it’s too late for me to learn without taking risks involving likely physical consequences at my 30’s I cannot afford suffering.

 I love the concept, the aesthetics of the skaters, their bodies, the movements, the musical philosophy involved, especially with the old school ones, directly attached to rock and metal…

Leaving aside what skate boarding means to me, there was a place and a time, where skate boarding changed radically in its practice. Before it became one of the most popular extreme sports with half pipes and other acrobatics, skateboarding was simply a source of entertainment for the kids in America, comparable to roller skating, and cheaper than a bike.

California hosted the revolution in skateboarding. By now, many of you are acquainted with names such as Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams, Dogtown and Z-Boys. This was a generation of problem childred. Kids raised in rough home environments, attached to a board as an extension of their body.  Apart from other circumstances and events, many of them were lucky their passion kept them away from the streets and jail, some of them ended deep down in shit.

In the mid 1970’s a major drought in South California, affecting LA especially, caused massive water restrictions, which implied many private swimming pools being drained for long time. The Z-Boys found these pools the perfect place for skating and developing stunning acrobatics, thus they started sneaking into the houses illegally for their pleasure.

Very few managed to witness such early experiences in first person, and Hugh Holland, together with Glen E. Friedman, who I will talk about soon, carried a camera in the right time and the right place, capturing awesome moments of the godfathers of modern-day skate.

Hugh Holland published a compilation of these captures in his book Locals Only. It goes beyond skating, this book reflects this community of kids and their lifestyle, with the boards as the epicenter of their existence.

These guys had an attitude, and appearance and an inner trademark. Their hair bleached, their suntanned well built bodies exhibited as if it was normal, sometimes wearing wasted and ruined Vans and Levi’s, and sometimes just bare feet. Their style is aggressive, their attitude is mean. They were kids, but could be dangerous, and wanted to look tough, and they did. These were the guys who really grew and learned everything from the streets.

It is difficult to sum up the talent and the work of an artist, and a photographer, as they are able to transmit so many feelings and things in a capture, it can be overwhelming sometimes, but if I had to choose a capture to define Hugh Holland, that would be this one, no doubt.

For me, this image is a generation portrait. Little Danny Kwock, in his bathsuit, literally stuck to the board, even though you can observe his feet soles are not firmly leaning on it, his eyes closed and his body surfing as if in ecstasy…this capture is simply awesome!

Enjoying these pictures, regret and frustration comes to my mind once again. I should have tried to slide with a board when I had time even though I was on my own. Nscht!

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