At first I wondered if there was anything particular to say about this Slam City Skates advert, other than that it features Ken Park at the wonderful Latimer Road ramp, and that the un-credited photograph would almost certainly have been taken by Paul Sunman. Then I noticed that it listed the famous shop in Covent Garden as “opens September”. So this issue dates back to the days when that London skateboard institution was just a gleam in Sunman’s eye.
I can remember being astonished at the time by the thought of a skateboard shop in such an expensive location. It’s true that my own career had begun behind the counter of a skateboard shop opposite Harrods. In fact those premises must have been even more outrageously expensive: we had 4, or was it 5, floors complete with an indoors quarter pipe in the back, but only one floor was open to the public. But in 1988 that was 10 years ago. 10 years in which skateboarding had been so far underground that less than a handful of shops had been able to pay rent of any kind — all of them in much, much, much cheaper locations. And all of them keeping going only by selling things like BMX bikes, or rollerskates. Those were very different times. So a skateboard shop in the heart of one of London’s prime shopping areas seemed an outrageous thing to try.
History proved Slam City very right indeed. That shop defined skateboarding in London for decades to come. Its influence on the course of skateboarding in the UK outweighed any of its predecessors and certainly shaped the skateboard culture of the R.a.D Magazine generation. But at the time that this magazine was published, all that was yet to come. It still seemed an outrageous gamble, just like the survival of skateboarding itself.