The Heart of Skateboarding
A pair of ragged jeans, a short-sleeve T-shirt, a pair of headphones tucked into the shirt feeding out of the collar into the ears, and possibly a beanie on the head even though the weather isn’t all too chilly. These are probably all things that people think of today when they imagine skateboarders. However, this archetype didn’t always exist and in fact before skating was heavily adopted by a very specific segment of the population, there was quite a popular craze around the sport. Detached from all the modern associations of street culture and delinquency, skateboarding actually can seem quite natural to almost any group of individuals.
In the 1960′s, Bill Eppridge shot a series of photos for LIFE magazine, which depict both kids and adults skateboarding around New York before there were any preloaded associations attached with the sport. “The most exhilarating and dangerous joyride this side of the hot rod,” the magazine opined in 1965, “A two-foot piece of wood or plastic mounted on wheels, it yields to the skillful user the excitements of skiing or surfing.” It’s difficult to envision a time, really not that long ago, when skateboarding was so new and so marginal that the fascination with the sport was a blank slate not accompanied by thoughts of social rebellion or a path to pop culture stardom. What you begin to see through these photographs is the true essence of why people are so enchanted with the sport – it is all at once exciting, dangerous, uniting, difficult and above all, fun.