By Andres Pachon
A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.
Could you imagine a world without skateboarding? We dont, it is an outraging idea, but during the 70´s and 80´s in Norway this was a very real thing. Anything related to skateboarding was completely banned, it was illegal to practice it, to sell any part or accessories… You could not even watch it on the TV! For almost eleven years of boredom, skateboarding was off the table. Today we will talk about those hard years and how some rebels like Joakim Henrik Wang made it possible for skateboarding to survive as an underground sport during that crappy time.
How Do You Ban Skateboarding?
The 15th of September of 1978 was a very dark day for skateboarding in Norway, as the law that banned skateboarding practice, commercialization and its broadcasting in any media took effect. There was only ONE park in which you could skate, but it was in Oslo and you needed to be identified as a member of the club to skate there, also if the police saw anybody with a skateboard they could interrogate and even arrest them just for owning a skateboard…. welcome to hell. The Government argued that this measure was to protect the children from getting injured or even dying while they practiced the sport. The law was overthrown in 1989 but those were difficult times for the skaters, Joakim Henrik Wang at an interview that he gave to BBC implied that those kind of restrictions were made by people who did not understand skate and were scared by it: it´s easier to ban something you don’t understand than to try to understand it.
Living as an Underground Skater
Photo: Mikael Cho (Unsplash)
As the prohibition took place Wang and other skaters had to improvise wooden ramps and search for hidden places to skate as they disguised from the police. To buy parts they had to go to clandestine markets or in some cases smuggle them from other countries, as you could be arrested just for having a skateboard if you did not have the membership card of the Oslo skate club. Wang was arrested two times during the prohibition, once for skating in his hometown and another just for walking with his skateboard in Oslo because the police did not believe that was going to the skatepark.
Life After the Prohibition
Photo: Mikael Cho (Unsplash)
During the late 80´s the police began to relax as they knew that the prohibition was going to be overthrown, which happened in 1989. Meanwhile in the early 90´s many parks were opened to the public; stores were accessible to everybody and even new skate magazines were published. For the Norwegian skateboarders this was an opportunity to catch up with the rest of the skaters around the world, but ten years is a long time. There is a lot to do within the sport in order for it to be considered as a worldwide skate reference as some splinters of the prohibition still leave some sequels among some people that don’t fully understand what skate is about. Nevertheless, the community of skaters in Norway and other places around the world are committed to let skateboarding evolve as a sport and a culture. A place and activity to peacefully encounter like minded people.
Read also: Skateboarding in Oslo
Read also: The Ban on Skateboarding in Norway