Thursday, 14 November 2013

Non Stop Fitting Room Archive Part 3: The Westside Bar Years

This final post of photos and magazine clippings that have graced the walls of Non Stop's fitting rooms for around a decade turns to a period of particular fond memories for brothers of a certain age.  Many look back on the very late 90s-early 2000s as a God-forsaken era of swishy pants, Muska-beats and Osiris shoes, and the first burst of skateboarding's most recent era of major mainstream popularity with Tony Hawk's Pro-Skater.  In Nottingham, we accept all these things as true and awful but maybe aren't quite as able to erase the bad memories at the risk of losing some good ones. 
I really wish I could claim to have spent that entire period worshipping only Keenan, Gino and Kalis and respectfully dressing in the manner of a late-90s east coast rap guy.  But many skaters in Nottingham swallowed Osiris, Shorty's et al in a big way.  Myself and many of my contemporaries were swishy pants-ed to the max.  There were air-tech fabric Osiris t-shirts, Pete Smolik signature 'sag-no-drag' cargo pants, and many of the shoes that have appeared in Jenkem's two collections of the worst skate shoes of all time (nasty DCs..  check; Osiris D3s...  in multiple colourways....  check).
But skating in our fair city during this time was amazing, and Non Stop - with their long-time staffers' admitted fondness for all things very baggy, shiny and hip-hop - were in their heyday, with a super good team and a secret weapon just across from their St James' street premises: West Side Bar.  This grubby dive would have been unremarkable, and 6 days of the week it was: providing cheaper-than-average booze to Midlands drinkers to fuel a night's shouting and fighting.  It is no surprise that the place has since been replaced by several different Aussie themed sports-bars solely dedicated to getting meatheads drunk.  But on Thursday nights back then, Non Stop and the city's skateboarding fraternity took over.  This was also the heyday of really good, just-out-of-the-underground UK rap - and not too many years from the golden era of New York rap of skate video fame, so all us (mostly) middle class whiteboys could get our thug on to Nas, Wu Tang, Mobb Deep, Taskforce, Jehst, Roots Manuva, Mud Fam, Brain Tax, Black Star etc. etc. without a hint of irony or risk of being seen by civilians.  I believe our younger bredren do something similar at Phlebas these days... except the girl:dude ratio is significantly more favourable for them than it was for us.  Chicks prefer Clarke's shoes and 5-panel caps to bright yellow t-shirts, Argos bling and track pants every time.
Skating was pretty heavy in Notts at the time too - with a concentration of dudes in their prime who pretty much pulled off the hella-baggy/hella-swishy thing and looked kind-of-pretty-good with it: Gaz Jenkins, Sam Culshaw and Craig Smedley to name the obvious ones - certainly the ones who could rock the most jewellery in Westside on a Thursday and not look as ridiculous as the rest of us.  We also had some good-for-the-time spots - especially a huge warehouse with one wall ripped off, that quickly gained ledges and flat banks to accompany a natural kicker (see below), gaps and jump ramps up to huge metal-cased machinery.  The story of that place is for another time - and it got a 'bit too serious' for many, with dudes actually getting down there for 7.00am (Hardflip Lee, where you at?) to train before everyone else turned up.  So here's some photos from Non Stop's archives:
Sam Culshaw floats one of his perfect tres flips out of the warehouse natural kicker, in a not-really-too-bad-for-the-time pair of sneakers.  No wonder he's made a living out of trainers since.  This made up the contents spread in Sidewalk.
A favourite nincompoop, Unabomber's Christopher 'Bambi' Price backlipping a bench (that used to be at Clarendon) from the same kicker as above.  Appeared in Sidewalk in the news section.
Smedley switch hard-flipping the grass gap at the school just off Lenton/Radford Boulevard - for his Sidewalk interview in December 2000.
And now for the... errr... lifestyle pics.  You know who you are.