THE UNI SQUARE SKATE SPOT

By Renzo Tweedie

In the afternoon of an overcast day in week 9, I plucked up the courage to interview a bunch of skaters at the University Square Skate Spot (USSS). This interview was in response to an alarming level of interest exhibited by all years of the JD; the skaters were vehemently characterised as enigmatic and thus offered a glimpse into a life free from legal rigidity. These are their stories.

  • Tegan: @tegsryan
  • Nao: @oca.nao
  • Tobi: @tobi_ornottobe_
  • Austen: @austensweetin
  • John: @_badboyrayray_

When did you start skating and why?

Austen: I started skating when I was five years old, so around 1996. My neighbour had a skateboard and I remember it catching my eye; I was really intrigued by it. I picked it up and fell in love with skating pretty much straight away.

Tegan: When I was nineteen and I’m twenty-four now. All my friends were skateboarders but not me so I thought okay I’ll try this now and so I just started. Oh, and my little brother skated as well.

Nao: I was nineteen as well when I started. When I was fourteen my friend had a board and I tried it out and I couldn’t do it (laughs), in my head I remember thinking when I grow up I’m gonna buy my own board and figure it out.

Tobi: I started skating about five years ago. It was just this one night where we randomly had skateboards and we just went down hills and stuff and it so fun that I was addicted straight away.

John: 1998, so when I was 8 years old. I started mainly because my brothers were skating and they’re all older than me- so it was kind of always going to happen.

Tobi, Tegan and Nao

Which famous skaters do you look up to or admire?

Austen: Ahh it’s really hard to think of someone now you’ve put me on the spot. Maybe Mason Silver? He’s got really good style. He can skate so fast and is so good at flip tricks!

Tegan: Pablo Rameriz, he’s faster than the speed of light. Marisa Dal Santo, she’s definitely so good, I mean FREAKIN’ good. I also love Poppy Starr Olsen.

Nao:  Andrew Allen, his style and how he skates is sick.

Tobi: My favourite skaters are Elissa Steamer and Anthony Pappalardo.

John: they’re all old now, but I’d definitely say Eric Koston, obviously. He was just the best for like fifteen years, so everyone looked up to him including every kid just starting out. He just had the most insane tricks, I’d encourage you to look him up.  I also love both Mike Carrol and maybe Gino Iannucci, who skated for Quicksilver for ages. They’re style is so much better than everyone else’s. I like Gino skates because he skates fast and Mike Carroll because he grew up in the same town as I did.

What are your thoughts about the closure of Lincoln Park?

John: I moved here just after it was destroyed so I never actually got to skate it but I’d heard of it from my friends and stuff and so was pretty gutted that I never got to try it out!

Tegan: It did [close], it was really pretty; it’s such a bummer. It was the spot you know? It was famous around the world and was featured in a lot of skate videos. Take a look at Golden Foy Time on YouTube (Online version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8yD6PNo5Vc )

Tobi: Skaters used to go there all the time then when it closed, we began going to iMax, then they came here. Although I think people have stopped coming here a bit because the hinges aren’t as good.

Here I admitted my ignorance and asked what hinges were

They’re the ledges that you grind on, they’re a little too low here.

Austen: I mean, I didn’t know anything about it, but my friend told me the story because apparently it cost heaps to tear it down. But then they said that they built this place [USSS] to be skate friendly, so that’s good.

Skate friendly?

So like, no skate stoppers and stuff. It’s great they did make it skate friendly because it means we can skate in peace and not be seen as like, delinquents. If they nob it [put skate stoppers] people might just un-nob it and you don’t wanna vandalise it. So, in the end it just gives skaters a bad name. It’s great to have these places to skate at in the city as well. If you are a visitor, it’s a great place to hang out and meet people. 

Photos by Nao (ig: @oca.nao)

I’ve seen a lot of skaters filming and getting filmed here, what do you do with the footage?

Tegan: Make skate videos! A lot of people will have their own camera or whatever and you all just film each other, put it to some music and put it on the internet. We’re going to feature in one coming out soon! (laughs). Mostly they’re on Vimeo- look up ‘Adelaide Norris’ (https://vimeo.com/user20707495). There’s money in it as well, if you’re good enough. Like you can’t just use your phone. If you film just with your iPhone that’s not respected, if you do it with a camera and it’s edited, it means more.

Tobi: there’s a video coming out called APPOINTMENT by Adelaide Norris (linked above). My friend Tully West also films here a bit. Check out his video ‘Crimson and Clover’(http://www.syop.skateboard.com.au/article/13-96760-1/crimson-and-clover/), there’s clips from here in it [University square]. Otherwise local guys make DVDs you can look at in the skate shop and buy if you want. If you can film one of the top skaters, the company they skate for will pay for your footage.

Austen: Yeah we film for fun, we’re just skate enthusiasts and do it as a hobby.

So how do you spend the rest of your time?

I’m a professional snowboarder. I’m actually in Australia to snowboard. I’ve just come back from Thredbo, I was there for awhile- such a cool resort. It’s huge!

What do you think about law students?

Nao: I just go to the café outside the building, I don’t really think of them.

Tegan: I genuinely don’t think about them much, but I respect them. I can see why maybe there’d be a disconnect between us and them (laughs).

John: I like it, my sister-in-law has a law degree I think it’s great, it’s crazy how there’s so many different areas of law. Like, when you’re a kid and you think of what a lawyer is you just picture the person in the courtroom and a judge (laughs).

You’ve all been so nice about law students! I was hoping you’d have meaner stuff to say!

Oh, don’t worry I’ve dealt with a fair amount of asshole lawyers as well. To put a long story short, I was in a car accident where one of my best friends died. The state was pressing charges against the driver and so I had to go to court maybe ten times in two years, just relive it again and again. The lawyer for the state was the biggest piece of shit I’d ever encountered and I told him as much (laughs).

Edit: I recently found out that the real name for the USSS is ‘No Piss Plaza’. I thought that it was called this because there isn’t a bathroom nearby but turns out it’s just because the closest bottle-o is a ten minute walk (quicker if you skate).

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