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MADE FOR SKATE

1977 article in German Skateboard magazine urging skaters to use “proper” skate footwear. A cover article from LIFE magazine in May 1965 portrayed skateboarding as “Mania – and menace.” Next to accident statistics and gruesome tales of rebellious misconduct, the article featured a picture of a mangled foot. “It‘s easier to get bloody than fancy,” the article concluded, and upright citizens should leave it alone. Skateboarding, after all, was for punks. Following the LIFE article, an editorial in the Quarterly Skate- boarder urged skaters to clean up their act: “[Skateboarding is] not a sport of destruction – of others or yourself. It’s a sport of control. It’s up to you to see that skateboarding does not become a sport of rebels and radicals. It’s a sport for young sportsmen. We look forward to a great future in skate- boarding and we ask you, the pioneers, to make it great.” But it was too late. The damage was done and the masses walked away from skateboarding. The die-hard skaters stayed on, but they were tired of getting their toes banged up. Z-Boys Take A Stand The new breed of hardcore skaters – personified by original Z-boys Stacy Peralta and tony Alva – took a different stance on the issue of shoes. After all, their new and more aggres- sive way of skating was getting more and more demanding and physical. “I never skated barefoot,” Stacy Peralta remembers. “I couldn’t stand skating barefoot as I felt it held me back and gave me no control.” Looking back on the skate scene at the time, Peralta adds: “Jay Adams is the only person I remember ever skating barefoot and he only did it once in a while. No one I skated with back then preferred skating without shoes – it was too hard on the feet when you came off the board, which was all the time. And remember, we were riding clay wheels, which were the equivalent of skat- ing on round pieces of ice!” STEPPING ON DECK In search of appropriate footwear, early skaters had to improvise. Skateboard pioneer Chuck Helm, who started skating in Dallas, Texas in the 1960s remembers: “The first shoe that was considered the must-have for Sixties era skateboarders was the Sperry Topsider in navy blue. This is a classic boating deck shoe.” The use of shoes also coin- cided with the use of grip tape on top of skateboards: “You could buy grip tape from the same sailboat places that sold Topsiders, grip tape was also used on boat decks,” Helm said. What made these boat shoes suitable for skateboarding? “The shoes had a special soft rubber sole with many grip grooves cut into it in a zig-zag design, originally for extra grip on wet boat decks. This made it perfect for traction on skateboard decks, too,” Helm explained. Sperry Topsiders could be seen on the feet of members of the Santa Monica-based Hobie Vita-Pak Skate Team, featur- ing now legendary skate pioneers like Danny Bearer, Torger Johnson. “I went out to buy a pair of blue Sperry Topsid- ers to emulate this stylish crew of young pros,” said Chuck Helm. The low-cut style and soft sole of the shoes – and its classic navy color way – would later play a great role in the creation of the first skateboard-specific shoe: The Randy 720, released in 1965. 27 1975 Skateboarder “Who´s Hot“ Chris Yandell

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