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Skateboarding News

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Interview with Jean Marc Lalondrelle

Vert is Dead! Yeah Right. Tell that to Jean Marc Lalondrelle. At 50 years old, he is the sheer example that
vert is alive and kicking and not fucking dead!
Smith Grind during the Cradle Rock in Bordeaux, 2011. Photo Fred Ferand
Interview with Jean Marc Lalondrelle

I was reading interviews of European skaters on the web and I became appalled by what I was reading. Of course, I understand that Europe is not the rest of the world and that Europe has had to find its own skateboarding culture because the environment is different: it’s raining a lot, it’s cold, there are no infrastructures and the streets are more oriented to some kind of green transportation (skateboarding, rollers, bicycle, scooters, longboards, etc..). In the US, you skate on the street you go to jail. In Europe you skate on the street, you get a green medal… I’m hardly exaggerating. So, I got it, skateboarders on both sides of the Atlantic have parted ways a long time ago.
"At first, the vert riders were the minority, then it became a trend." Photo Fred Ferand
But let me get it right, the guys in Europe are referring to pool skateboarding merely as a pastime. Huh? From what I was reading, European skateboarders were talking about pool riders as dilettante and not serious about skateboarding and objecting that pool and vert is not real skateboarding. I almost had a heart attack especially since that was not the first time that I was hearing this from Europeans.

But eventually, I discovered this new website put up by the city of Bordeaux, in France, a project aimed to inform the general public of the skateboarding scene at Bordeaux. The website was created by Gaucherand Aurelien, founder and coordinator of “Bordeaux Cité Skate”.
Brackside Grind in the half pipe of Agen in 1981

By helping financially, by contributing with digital innovations on the event, and by constructing new skate modules, the city of Bordeaux is actively supporting skateboarding in Bordeaux. The exhibition “Bordeaux Cité Skate” held in the City Hall is fully supported by the city of Bordeaux. Stacy Peralta refers to Bordeaux (and the Aquitaine from Bordeaux to Biarritz) as what California was 50 years ago. He was not referring to the Bordelais skating with clay wheels and Chicago trucks but to the spirit of entrepreneurship and the California way of life that spread onto the world after both surfing and skateboarding were exported worldwide.

Here is one of the interviews that “Bordeaux Cité Skate” is boasting on the website: the one of an old school skater: Jean Marc Lalondrelle by Beatrice Lajous. BTW, “Jim” loves vert skating, because he was part of the vert scene of the 80's that is so despised by the mainstream skaters. After reading the interview, I came to peace and decided to translate it in English… Thanks to Jean Marc for the green light, thanks to Fred Ferand for the pictures and to Beatrice Lajous for the original interview. The parenthesis are added to the original script when necesary for easier understanding.

Jim (Jean Marc Lalondrelle), was born and raised in Agen, in the south of France. He has been skateboarding for over 30 years and he is currently making a big come back thanks to multiples activities: President of Association, designer, store owner, skater, etc.. He is endowed by a boundless commitment and his characteristic frankness, both in skateboarding in his life choices. This meeting was purely informative, that should not stop there! See you on Skatebook?
Layback. Skatepark Bordeaux during the Cradle Rock in 2011. Photo Fred Ferand

Béatrice Lajous: Can you introduce yourself? Jim (Jean Marc Lalondrelle: My name is Jean-Marc Lalondrelle. My nickname is Jim, a reference to Jim Muir, a Californian Pro Skateboarder. I started skateboarding in my hometown of Agen (with the brothers Vilpoux) and I have now skateboarded for about 34 years.

Hurrican Fronside during the Cradle Rock in Bordeaux 2010. Photo Fred Ferand
Béatrice Lajous: How did you discover skateboarding? Jean Marc Lalondrelle: It was in 1978 when I first discovered skateboarding thanks to swimming lessons. After one of the lessons, I just went to a multisport store. I often call skateboarding “object of the offense”. Skateboarding helps to develop a personality; it helps to discover new meaning. This is a new way to physically express oneself.

The skate I had was a Banzai made of plastic; it was the main brand at that time in France thanks to riders like Thierrry Dupin and Jose De Matos. (Those boards are often called banana boards in the US). So I followed the evolution of the sport and the different practices. Skateboarding was popular in the late 70’s. You could find boards not only in sports stores, but also in supermarkets’ endcaps.

Béatrice Lajous: Where are your current spots? Jean Marc Lalondrelle: I skate in the docks, in Langon, in the Basque Country and Spain. I skate trannies, I love it when it's at least two meters high. Actually, I started skateboarding with vert. I'm more comfortable with this kind of height. I’m kinda on cruise control when I’m on a ramp… Practicing vert allows me to ride again even at 50 years old. Contrary to the current (street) trend I always loved skating with pads. Of course, you can always skate without pads, but that’s only when you bang your head that you start thinking about it.

At the skate Skate Park of Clouet, 1978. Note the Dogtown Board, popular in the US, very difficult to find in France
at the time. Though I an not sure if that is a Jim Muir...
The consequences can be severe. I do not preach, but I practice a skate that allows me to ride again at age 50.

I started skateboarding down the street and I failed, but I persevered and I joined an association in Agen, in which there was a section "skate". We were skateboarding mainly on flat. We were doing slalom, freestyle, etc… Skateboarding comes from the surfing culture, composed of 360 °, wheelies ... So it is much more fluid in movement, akin to figure skating. And there was also the high jump and downhill. A contest circuit was already in place with the Coupe de France and the French Federation.
Jean Marc Lalondrlelle circa 85
(French) Skateboarding has never had enough licensees to establish its own federation. I practiced freestyle like everyone else. I was good in the high jump, I even matched the record level, something that requires commitment and a competitive spirit.
I was not totally connected with the (French) system; sometimes there were few regional competitions. I always have a slightly different approach and this since the first days. I went first from plastic to wood decks, which were bigger and less dangerous. I had quickly built my first banks and my first boards. I was still involved in the world of skateboarding while keeping an eye out. That's how I approach any culture really.

Then I began to skate on banks. That's really the type of skate that I liked. I was caught by the virus. This was an important time because I needed by nature to create my own ground. We organized a few demos, with the club and a shop on the corner. It was awesome! With an inspiration from American magazines (SkateBoarder Magazine), with the help of my buddies Agen, Stéphane and Philippe Vilpoux, Patrick Chaubard we created one of the first half-pipes in France. Thanks to that, we were then able to generate a scene. We even nicknamed the guys "Bones Brigade Santa Agen" because I had a contact with Powell Peralta, possessed the Member Card and corresponded with Stacy Peralta.

In 1980-81, I had no hesitation and went to ride in Spain to ride. I would like to cite in particular the skatepark of Arenis del Mar in Barcelona. The spot is being rehabilitated. These were moments rooted in my teens. Good memories! When I returned from Spain, I realized that our famous halfpipe at Agen had been destroyed, because we had installed it without authorization in the municipal stadium. They had made the recovery to the structure and the association we had funded the coating. Resourcefulness and passion did the rest.

At first, the vert riders were the minority, then it became a trend. I was really in an ascent phase, in terms of level. I read thoroughly SkateBoarder Magazine. It was among the pioneers to the vertical in France. At this time, in the early 80s, there were strong vert places (Paris, Beton Hurlant , with Alexis Le Pesteur). But the skateboarding industry was already starting to wane.
A Hosoi Hammerhead recycled and painted by Jean Marc
Lalondrelle on display at the Bordeaux City Hall until April 18, 2012.
Many people had left because they practiced more classical disciplines.

In 1982, I arrived in Bordeaux to continue my studies. I was frustrated in Agen because our ramp was destroyed. There was no real communication media, but the Tom Tom worked with urethane. I had already met some skaters during a contest in Chauffour Saint-Bruno: Gilles Delapointe, Jean-Marie Canicas, Pierre Lawton. As a prospective student, these meetings have served as a bridge before choosing the city of Bordeaux.

Coming here, I thought about my last experience and I decided to empower myself. I met Fabrice Le Mao. We trained on the Terraces of Médoc and I took over the presidency of the skate Union St. Bruno in 1983. We were able to recover a frame and build at the Merignac airport. The templates found in the original permit to carry barrels of wine on a flatbed truck. The U shape corresponded to a height of mini-ramp, but we wanted to go further. We tested the elliptical, not forgetting to imagine different small modules. The ramp was painted in pink to voluntarily refer to the the Winchester skatepark, California. The Assistant Secretary to the sport of Bordeaux City Hall (M.Bimes) supported us. We got very lucky, this ramp was located at the stage Malleret. My goal was obviously to increase the membership and power and be awarded grants for new infrastructure. We had to take charge, and I was hooked as an entrepreneur.

I also invested in creating a fanzine in 1983 and had set up an association to edit "The French Bursting Way" become "Style" but then was unable to pursue because I had to leave Bordeaux.
Feel my eyes with that double vision, my double vision gets the best of me...

It is reported that there were sixty skaters in France and this is what we have in part federated at national level. The fanzine was a relay to the skaters.

For personal reasons I gave in 1985 the management of the skate section of the Union St. Bruno to Pierre Sabouret (Frank Sabouret’s brother), absolutely not willing to abandon the project or that is what breaks had been undertaken.

In 1986, I participated in the adventure of creating a Boardwear brand called "Gatzby" whose logo was created by Gilles De La Pointe and Stéphane Vilpoux. I joined them because I really identified myself with the brand. This was a great adventure, but we were faced with the challenges of starting a business......

A whole life on skateboard.... Photo Fabrice LeMao
In 1987, returning to Bordeaux I took the skate section of the Union St. Bruno with Fabrice Le Mao and have had the opportunity to work with Local Motion. I combined the two activities and hoped that the club would develop. In 1989, with Stephane Girard and Emmanuelle Freyssange, I decided, to create "Le Tropee de Bordeaux". This event was a huge success, with a street course and a ramp, meeting the expectations of the skate scene Bordelaise. The ramp was 10m wide and 3m30 tall and we built it in 24 hours tanks to Traquet. The ramp was in an indoor sports room at La Benauge. We had used private sponsors and excellent media coverage.
Lalondrelle skate-art
In Bordeaux, there was Vincent Casarangue, Alexandre Audebert, Fabrice Le Mao, Yan Renaud, Franck Sabouret Daurel and Seb Daurel...

Following this success, we got were 150 licensees. The ramp was installed at the stadium Alfred Daney, and we were able to bring the Bones Brigade twice (Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero etc..). You can see our ramp on the most famous video "Ban this" Powell Peralta. The skate scene was well represented in the late 80s. We wanted to democratize vertical skating, by making an additional mini-ramp. We were competing with Bourges and Toulouse. Then, I left the club and my presidency, and the office of the Federation at the regional level.
Between 1989 and 1992, I was doing freelance jobs in designating skateparks for a local constructor (80 facilities in France). This allowed me to gain experience for the construction and maintain contact with local authorities.

In 1990, I became involved in the skatepark Du Domaine Du Four at Claouey. I then work again the association that I had created in 1983 to launch the fanzine: Association of Skateboard Southwest. Having recovered the ramp Trophy Bordeaux then under Daney, I was planning to install it there. This skate park was created in 1978. It is in the form of "Snake Drain Ditches", that is to say, inclined planes, with a rough coating concrete. The park has a soul because it is surrounded by pine trees. Between carbon dioxide and the scent of pines, I quickly chose my side. With Gilles Delapointe and Dominique Coulon we wanted to energize this place. We chose a mix concrete-wood. We redid the concrete so it could be connected to a mini ramp, that was added, and the wooden ramps. Mixing concrete and wood was not trendy at the time. Eventually, we called the place "Matoucat," which in local dialect means "the place where people gather".

In 1991 various "teams" came here, like the Bones Brigade Tony Hawk, Ray Barbee, Lance Concklin, Stephane Larance, Nicky Guerrero, Sebastian Daurel. We also organized a demo with the team New Deal: Ed Tempelton, Neil Hendricks, Andy Howell, Jeremy Daclin and an evening concert with the whole team including the Death Box team: Alex Mool, Peter Hewitt and Natas Kaupas. That was sick! It seems incredible in retrospect. Very good experience, but we were not able to continue for professional reasons.

Since 1993, I practice skate for pleasure only, without even trying to learn. I prefer the style, keep me physically and take more risks. For ten years I spent just practicing, spending fewer hours because of my work.

In 2002, I opened my own store, Senium. It was not my best experience in the world of skateboarding. I helped some riders including Hervé Cosic, Leo Valls.

Jean Marc Lalondrelle: Yes, I like my city of Bordeaux!!
With the held of Romuald Cailleteau, Lawrence Rosain and Ludovic Marchand I organized the Free Skate Day in Cestas. The concept was to skate for 24 hours, we settled for 12, not bad.
In 2007 after the closing of my store, I saw Julien Chauvineau, the skateshop Transfer, established in 1998. I talk about building a pool, and his famous Black Battalion Bowl. It awakens in me an adolescent dream.

Since the reunion, I went back to the skate and it is a renaissance that has taken place.
The skate is a true "healthy" addiction in contrast to the image that people have. France is a country that is really 25 years behind the typology of skateparks. The United States and especially California are really ahead in this field. Thrasher more than the current scene, these skaters skate practice a more "core", corresponding to the origin of skateboarding.
In 2010 and 2011 I participated to the Cradle Rock organized by the association and the Octopus "French Old School Skate Jam", which are the "oldtimers" French skateboarders.

The certificate signed by Stacy Peralta that makes Jean Marc
Lalondrelle an active member of the Bones Brigade. 
I am and always will be passionate about skateboarding. I kept my body fit for a long time to be able to practice. I truly have integrated automation, in my cells, my hard drive, a biomechanical point of view and culture. It is very difficult to say "I quit skateboarding."
After drawing and designed skateparks, I still express myself by creating decorative objects on skateboards. I discovered a new world through the world of skateboarding. This is what I love in this environment; it can really thrive in a broad sense as it has lots of ramifications in culture. This is initially a creative environment, in its practice and counter-culture.
I kept my candor in the approach to the subject. I started in 2011 and started painting the boards. In less than a year, I created 30 boards. I see them as objects of decoration, sometimes designed like paintings or sculptures then. I explore continuously as skateboarding, recently exhibiting in the gallery in Nantes Marceau.

I chose a fetish theme related to the definition that was Ernest Renan "the fetish is an object of worship to which it confers supernatural powers". Is not it a bit here skateboarding? Marked by my walks around town with my skate cruiser, my creations are elegant, sexy.
Béatrice Lajous: And can you tell us more about the female skate? Jean Marc Lalondrelle: By definition, this is a purely masculine universe. Skateboarding attracts fewer girls than surfing. Bordeaux, Paulie and Mary stand out by bowlriding on the docks, in Langon and most recently in the Gujan Mestras pool. They are rare in practice as much as Bordeaux on the national level, so we have even more respect.

Add caption
Béatrice Lajous: What happens to skate in regard to the new technologies? Jean Marc Lalondrelle: Skateboarding has always been publicized. In the 70s it was the magazines, and then it was the videos. Now the guys are shooting and a few hours after it lands on the social networks. The creation of these new communication ways reinforces a social bond that already exists and even more to share our passion. They should never be an end ...

Béatrice Lajous: What do you think of Bordeaux as a skate city? Jean Marc Lalondrelle: In my opinion, I think there is much material here at the street level. The choices there are a lot of planning. The skatepark, also showcase its place, is the demand, the expectations of different audiences, young and old, for example.

By definition, a skatepark cannot meet a skater to 100%. Now, interest is given to spots, squares. We cannot reproduce the proper spot the skater is able to imagine. Skaters create them. Malraux and the Conservatory became emblems. A skater goes from point A to point B, he recreates his spot ever. The DIY trend returns elsewhere. There are fans here and the project confirms the Bordeaux City Skate.

Why not Bordeaux, European showcase of skateboarding! There are fans here and the project confirms the Bordeaux City Skate. The mixture of generations and types of skating are tomorrow's challenges.

Original interview in French at

Thanks to Fred Ferand and Fabrice LeMao for the pictures and thanks to all of you that kept vert alive during the past 35 years...  

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I skate therefore I am: skateboard pools, pipes, parks, bowls and vert, daily skateboarding news...
posted by Xavier Lannes @ Sunday, April 01, 2012 


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