Feature Article

Skateboard History of Brasil – Part 1 the 1970’s.

Skateboard History of Brasil
Part 1 the 1970’s.
…Skateboarder mag was our Bible and in the same year the first Brazilian skate mag is born, “Brasil Skate”. The first Brazilian movie about surfing and skateboarding “NAS ONDAS DO SURF” hits the theaters…

My name is Bruno Leonardo, I’m Brazilian and have been skatin’ for about 27 years; through this article I’m gonna try to show why Brazilian skaters have been so amazing in the last few years; I’ll divide it into decades to make it easier.

It all started with this new “TOY” that came out and had a name that sounded just like it looked when you see somebody using it….”skate”….it sounded like “slide or glyde” through the sidewalks and streets…it was just the cool new thing to do….I remember watching some kids go by on it through the corner window of my room and wondering what that sensation was like….and soon I had to get mine; it was a solid 3/4 inch oakwood deck with
clay wheels and it was called “SUPER SURFER”; I’d spend most of my awake time on that thing …I was contaminated, addicted for life and didn’t even know….Plywood on dirt makes a good bank. Leisure street, Waveboy Ralph HellhammerSao Paulo, my home town, was suddenly infested with the new “thing” to do and hundreds of kids were literally “on it” and everywhere you go you’d see it; but there was this wide smooth downhill street that basically turned into the epicenter of skateboarding every weekend; it was nicknamed “THE BIG CARPET”; there’d be about 150 or more people skating downhill while cars go
up and down…people getting pulled up by cars 8 or 10 at a time, getting run over under the back wheels, crashing head on, slamin’ on curbs, breaking bones and heads; it was a total “MADNESS”, that and the sounds of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin blasting out of car stereos made the perfect “rebel/irresponsible” scene that only the ones who lived know. After a few deaths and serious accidents the local community managed to contact authorities and the media. Skateboarding was literally declared a “killer” sport and a crime and it was banned off every street in town. Guess what happened? It turned even bigger and more out of control. Everybody wanted to know what the hype was and what was so dangerous about it. People were getting arrested left and right, so the city had to do something about it and they did…they determined a certain downhill street (called “The leisure street”) that would be closed for traffic on weekends specifically to skate!!!! It was the coolest thing except for the crowds, you’d have to get there around 7 or 8 in the morning to be able to get some runs!!!!this spot turned into the gathering of the early Brazilian pro skaters. These were the ones that’d go there every weekend to meet and go skate other uncrowded secret spots like the “velodrome” walls or the streets of the “sumare” hills, These spots were still illegal to skate but that was the thrill. Some of the names of this time were: ALOIS and JEAN MALFITANNI, BOLA 7, MAKAHA, SIRENE, MACARICO, RALPH, RICARDO “tchap-tchura”, CHARLIE PUTZ, and NIKI(the americans)

Meanwhile in Rio de Janeiro, according to my old school friends (Cesar Chaves and Flavio Badenes) the hills of “the botanical gardens” were constantly ridden by locals Marcello and Luizito Neiva, Maninho, Bruxa, and Alexandre “GORDO” Calmon.

AROUND 76 one day in school some kid said they were building a skatepark in his tennis country club. We all laughed at him and said : “you don’t know what you’re talking about” …but he kept insisting so we decided to check it out. This was probably one of the most unforgettable days in my life….it was true!!!! When we got there, me and my homies couldn’t believe our eyes!!! A smooth downhill super wide snakerun with walls from 2 to 6 feet deep ending in a bowl about 10 feet deep and everything with rounded edges!!!! It was like a dream come true!!!! Thanks to surfers/skaters ALBERTO TAKAOKA and his cousin TICO OHARA’s parents and constructors/owners the Alphaville Skatepark was real!!!! And there were only us to skate it!! We were freaking out, non stop laughing of so much anxiety!!!! We decided that we would all try it together at the same time. Man I’ll never forget this day. Skateboarding was unbelievable, it was like surfing a wave even though none of us had ever surfed, but we were positive it was a very close sensation. A couple of months later we heard a reservoir type park opened in “Nova Iguacu” (Rio de Janeiro) but we were so stoked on the Alphaville park that we didn’t want to go anywhere. At this time we were riding Chicago trucks, Cadillac or Rollersport wheels and pretty much handmade boards except for two rich American friends of ours that’d have Bahne or Makaha fiberglass boards. The Alphaville Skatepark got famous and crowded real quick. So again we’d meet there and go downhill speed skating around there since there were lots of new paved downhills real long, smooth and wide. Because Alphaville was about 20 min. drive out of town and none of us had a car, we sometimes would skate around town looking for banked walls, empty ponds or just a piece of plywood to lay against benches or small walls making a banked spot. We just wanted to skate different. I guess it was early street skating.

In early 77 our rich American friend, Charlie Putz, showed up with some red urethane wheels that his dad made. They were unbelievably close in looks and quality to the ultimate “SIMS PRO” red wheels that we’d only see in the mags. Not only that but he also told us that his dad was financing his project to build the best skatepark in town!!!
That was no joke!. In a couple of months the first part was built. It was a gnarly 15 feet deep huge “D” shaped bowl with 4 feet of vert, 8 feet side walls and a smaller 6 feet deep little bowl coming out of the left side that would ricochet you back in the deep walls!!!!! It was really insane!!! The “WAVEPARK” was the name of “the” best skatepark ever built in Brazil and this was only the first part of it!!
First Run ever in the Alphaville Skatepark

I remember the first day I saw people riding the big bowl, it gave me goose bumps just watching how dangerous, insane, and killer it was seeing guys carving vert no pads, no helmet, full speed, almost upside down. It was a mix of fear and adrenaline rush that I’ve never felt before in my life!! It took me 2 days of watching before even trying to reach vert for the first time. The first ones to rip were a group of older surfers that charged the big walls fearlessly. They were: Macarico, Peninha, Kao Tai, Edu Prisma, Thomas, Christian von Sydow, Bola 7 and Ricardo “tchap- tchura”. This was now the place to go every day and sometimes at night. Skateboarding was getting real intense and only a handful of real “riders” were really progressing. There was a lot of risk and craziness involved. A couple mos. later the whole park was done, and it was insane. 2 downhill snakeruns; #1: 2 foot walls increasing height along the way down with a little 4 foot bowl midway followed by 5′ walls into a right turn to an wide “s” turn and ending in a 12 foot deep triangular bowl with 70 degree walls. #2: The other started also with 2 foot walls but had no flat, straight wall to wall with a real quick “s” turn followed by an 7 feet tall “skatercross” kind of wall and ending in a 9 foot pool with tile and coping. The cool part was that the left side connected to a wall ride perfectly allowing you to go as high as you can and speed right back in it!! Besides everything, both snake runs were side by side kind of like a transfer and connecting also to the big bowl in the end!!! Basically you could skate up and down the whole park as many times as you could!!! It was really a dream come true!! Our rich American friend Charlie Putz and his cousin Sergio Pinto had started a new era in skateboarding in Brazil: The real skatepark era!!

The park was complete; skateshop, arcade, and bar. It was our new home! Eventually a skatepark team was formed with the locals that were ripping the most and they were: Jun Hashimoto, Formiga, Jofa, Ralph e Bruno. We were soon called “the Waveboys” and at that time our biggest influences and inspiration were none other than: Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Shogo Kubo. Style and radicalness were priorities!!! BY being on the park team we could skate anytime we wanted for free including late night sessions when Charlie would close the park exclusively for us to skate and coach us. This way we really progressed way further than anybody else. We were doing front and backside airs when people were trying to do one wheelers! I remember seeing TA doing that frontside air in skateboarder mag. and going to the park right after to try it!! Soon we became real good and real far ahead from other skaters. Then Charlie pulls another of his moves and gets COCA-COLA and Gledson (the biggest jeans manuf. at the time) to sponsor the team! We were like stars, touring all over Brazil, doing commercials, doing demos, skating in fashion shows, hanging and partying with models, getting interviews in mags,signing autographs, we even had had our own vert ramp with plexiglass right under the coping for pics.

In the vert competitions we won every single contest from first to fifth place that year. It was really crazy how that was happening and on top of it all making $$$. Skateboarding was big! So next thing you know is PEPSI is forming another skate team in a joint venture with some fiberglass manuf. name DOMOGLASS that started making fiberglass ramps, bowls, and even full pipes!! But still nobody could beat us in our home park ever. We were too far ahead, and their team were mostly freestylers.

It’s now 1978, Skateboarder mag was our Bible and in the same year the first Brazilian skate mag is born, “Brasil Skate”. The first Brazilian movie about surfing and kateboarding “NAS ONDAS DO SURF” hits the theaters. Rio de Janeiro gets a real skatepark “CAMPO GRANDE” which consisted of a big reservoir with 4′ to 5′ walls connecting to a long half pipe (Lakewood center style) with no flat and with heights increasing from 6’to 10’and ending in a 10′ round bowl. Local “NESCAU” and other skaters from Rio (CESINHA CHAVES, ERIC WILNER, COMERATO, MANINHO, ERNESTO TELLO, MARK LEWIS, GORDO, EDINHO, GALINHA)start to rip the park quickly rising the level in RJ. Meanwhile in Sao Paulo in a spot called “IBIRAPUERA” near the wavepark, freestylers WILSON SALADA, SERGIO UETA, PAULO “ANSHOWAS” BRITO, FABIO “BOLOTA”, ROGERIO ANTIGO, ROGER, LUMBRA, CLAUDIO FERNANDES, GINI,WANDI, and CARLOS DM, are doing their thing spinning 360’s, nose wheelin’, kick flipin’…later in the end of the year the first Brazilian national contest happened in the island of “FLORIANOPOLIS” in south of Brazil. The Waveboys dominated winning both mens and juniors categories and introducing aerials and plywood laminated boards to the skaters in the south.

Wave Park was rad! Bruno - top & bottom, Ralph - middle

Punk rock is in “full” effect and we start to terrorize everything, hotels, demos, tour buses, fans, groupies, photo shootings, contests, etc. Our crazy died hairdos and attitude were shocking everybody, especially sponsors, but we didn’t care we were skatin harder than ever and nobody’d say a thing. When most of the people were listening to Saturday Night Fever we were listening to DEVO, THE CARS, POLICE, 999, SEXPISTOLS, BUZZCOCKS, etc. Skaters from all over are travelling and exchanging knowledge, Rio gets a pool built in a condo specifically for skating, “BARRAMARES”,it had tear drop shape, the gnarliest big coping, and was across the street from the beach. ERNESTO TELLO, MARK LEWIS, COMERATO, MARCELO NEIVA, and TATU were destroying it with front and backside “early” ollies, high airs and long rockslides. In Porto Alegre, south of Brazil two skateparks are built: the”MARINA” which consisted of a big banked snakerun with walls up to 12′ high and the “Viamao” which was located in the outskirts in surfers “MICO” and PAULO SEFTON’s farm. It had a really narrow snakerun ending in a 10′ pool, local rippers were: PAULO and MICO SEFTON, GUINHA and the youngest and most talented “CHICO PRETO”. This kid could really skate he was doing head high airs, alley oops and awesome lines and was the first to break in the Waveboys domination in contests taking a first place in his hometown “Viamao” in the second Brazilian nationals.

In the second half of 79 “PEPSI-DM” organized a big contest in Sao Paulo with DM’s fiberglass ramps, bowl and pipe in which the winners of freestyle and overall ramp/bowl/pipe would get a trip to Del Mar, CA. to go compete internationally in the “skateranch” contest. For the Waveboys strong team there was a problem: we were sponsored by COKE, and winning meant “wearing” the PEPSI shirt in Del Mar and loosing our sponsor, only one of us “FORMIGA” went for it and won, we were stoked for him ’cause he was the youngest and ripping more than everybody. There could be no one better to represent Brazil in the pool contest. But in the end I guess he didn’t have enough practice and had a hard time adapting to the kinks of Del Mar’s pool and didn’t qualify. The
other young member of our team “JOFA” joined “FORMIGA” in this trip and when they got back the influence of skating with GELFAND, MALBA, SALBA, PINEAPLE, RAY BONES and others was obvious and their level of skating was unbelievable. FORMIGA was ollieing all over the place, JOFA was doing frontside 180 ollies over the hips, layback airs etc., that really pumped up the rest of the team raising the level even higher for the next and last contest at the wave park. The punk rock attitude was really strong in and out of skatin’ and sponsors just couldn’t put up with it anymore so they dumped us right before the contest. That made it even more fun ’cause we just thrashed anyways to the point of even being suspended for crashing on other skaters purposely and not respecting “any” practicing or contest rules, we just said: “FUCK IT ALL”; all this was too much pressure for our friend/coach and owner of the park Chalie Putz. He still tried to get another sponsor but the Wavepark/Coca Cola/Gledson team was over.

A couple of months later we had the worst news: the land where the park was built was rented and the owner was going to demolish the park and build two buildings in its place! But right after the bad news we had good news: somebody was building a supposedly better and bigger park about 30 min. from there. Soon enough the “Wavecat” skatepark was built in “SAO BERNARDO”, in the outskirts of Sao Paulo! This park was huge: a half capsule style halfpipe with long walls starting with 4’deep and ending with a 10’deep bowled wall, freestyle area, 5’deep mini round banks/bowl, a right hand big kidney pool 12’deep with a 6′ shallow end, everything “kinkless”, pro shop, arcade, showers, lockers and a big restaurant with a patio view of the park!!! The wave park team now turned in the “Wavecat” park team with the addition of local rippers OSCAR FOSSA and ARANHA!! About the same time a 12′ deep kidney pool is built in the back of the HOMERO surf shop in SANTOS a beach town 1 hour of Sao Paulo; local rippers were pro surfers soon to turn pro skaters LUIS “NEGUINO” and FERNANDO “FE”. Back in S.P. the wave park is being demolished but the Waveboys with some new generation disciples DANIEL BOURQUI, ALVARO”PORQUE”, MARCIO TANABE, YURA, ENZO, RENATINHO, CARRAO, ARI JUMONJI, GORDINHO, ARNOUX, MAURO MURETA, and MARIO were having the most unforgettable farewell sessions until the last piece of cement was demolished…..

On to part 2 – The 1980’s