7 Day Project – Woodstock

Auguste Bouznad, ride-on switch crooked grind. All photos in Paris and by Alex Pires.

It’s Friday, 12:30pm and we’re at Greg’s house with Auguste. Since Monday now we’ve been trying to shoot photos for this Free article but it’s not exactly been going as planned… The hiccup is that just as we got released from lockdown two weeks ago, a new incarnation of Bastille was born from the ashes of the old spot and it has kind of become the new vortex. As in every single session starts there and ends there and the furthest we’ve managed to get from it so far has only been a few blocks. And even then, nobody was kidding themselves, deep down we all knew it was just to stock up on supplies and head back. It’s off the back of realising this that Greg came up with a plan: he’d get each member of the crew to send him a trick idea for a certain spot so that the day’s destination (/burden) would be decided at random.
It’s now 12:45 and we’re looking at 30 bits of paper in a basket. After one hell of a hectic Facetime it’s announced that fate has chosen Auguste and that we’ll be heading to Le Dôme today… The call ends, they start talking about the previous night’s shenanigans, something dodgy to do with a wardrobe getting knocked over…

– Alex Pires

Kevin Rodrigues, gap to backside tailside.

Alex (Pires): Looks like it’s your turn today Auguste! We’re going to have to get bikes and head over there…
(Everyone laughs)
Auguste (Bouznad): Well at least we won’t be starting at Woodstock…

Alex: I think you might need to explain what Woodstock is… It’s been this week’s nickname for the new Bastille spot right?
Greg (Cuadrado): Yeah why do you guys even call it that?
Auguste: My girlfriend came up with it… She’d just come back from a weekend away and was like, ‘so how’s it been going at Woodstock?’

Alex: In reference to the partying or the skating?
(When this interview is taking place the lockdown measures are only just beginning to get lifted.)
Auguste: Just because of the partying ha ha. We’re basically chilling there every evening… And the fact
that there’s all those bits of wood from the construction site lying everywhere.
Greg: I didn’t really like the nickname at first but weirdly after my first evening there I instantly got it… Ha ha.

Alex: At the same time Greg you’ve got a bit of a special relationship with the spot, which goes way back to before it was renovated and even before République was around.
Greg: Yeah the three-set; that’s where I met Roman (Gonzalez), Hadrien (Buhannic), Kev (Rodrigues), Croco and the whole gang. That’s where most of us started skating. It was a meeting point, where we’d always play games of s.k.a.t.e. Plus the older guys would skate there… We’d spend days on end there just doing nothing… Actually I guess we did skate quite a lot of flatground there. We liked it because it was neither Bercy nor Le Dôme… Like it was pretty mellow.
Auguste: I always knew Bastille was an important spot, but for us it was just three stairs… I liked the spot but we had République.

Roman Gonzalez, frontside wallride.

Alex: Don’t these first sessions at Woodstock remind you a little bit of the early days of République?
Greg: What’s certain is that both of those spots really help bring together the scene. The first day at Bastille when I showed up there was already one of the older heads skating it and I was showing up with some of the younger guys… The next day it was 2-3 older heads, a few dudes from other crews, kids from the neighbourhood and so on. Also at the beginning of République it was the same thing, like we were skating the plaza before it was completely finished so they had no choice but to open it to the public. The builders here at the Bastille spot told us that they’d be working on it for another six months… One of the architects of the new Bastille was at the spot the other day though and apparently when they designed it skateboarding was actually intended here in the corner of the spot that we skate, that’s why there’s almost no gaps between the paving slabs on this bit and a wider gap between the slabs everywhere else around it. The other great thing about this spot is that unlike République you don’t have the six pedestrian crossings feeding people into the spot… I just really hope that we won’t one day end up saying ‘ah remember Bastille? It was so much better at the very beginning…’

Alex: Auguste when you started skating République already existed right?
Auguste:  No, I started a little bit before that… I think my first missions with the boys from Noisy were maybe to Le Dôme or Pantin Skatepark, but I do remember seeing Répu being under construction… Then later on one my mates from Noisy took me there and I managed to memorise the route on the metro so I’d just go all the time. In fact it was the only journey I actually knew off by heart. The second day I went there I got my bag stolen ha ha. That’s where I met Aurélien (Barcelo), Samy (Sebaoui) and all of those boys. The spot has been through so many different stages… The wooden manual pad days, the water mirror, all the different ledges, etc. The central cafe that burnt and what was left of it… It became our zone.

Alastair Pathé, wallie 180.

Alex: And how did you guys feel about the endless stream of visiting American pros?
Auguste: I don’t know for us it would sort of just happen and we wouldn’t really realise.
Greg: Tell the Hoodie story. (Laughs)
Auguste: Are you sure?
Greg: Yeah it’s fine… Lucien if you’re reading on we’ll send you another one straight away if you want one!
Auguste: Okay well Lucien Clarke was at République for a Supra demo with Lizard King and stuff and me and my mates were lurking by the wooden manual pad. Lucien comes over, drops all of his shit off including this Supreme hoodie. Everyone else clocked it as well. He skates around, goes to chill a bit further with all the Supra dudes… We look at the hoodie and realise that that’s probably 200 euros chilling right there. So we start sitting closer and closer to it…

Alex: Was it just the hoodie or is this about to get serious?
Auguste: Ha ha no no it was just the hoodie… And a few cherries actually… We just thought it wouldn’t be hard for him to get another one! Sorry Lucien!

Alex: I don’t think he’ll hold it against you ha ha. I remember that whole period when there were a lot of demos at République… You were still working at the skate shop Greg and we noticed that way less kids would come to the shop signings and stuff since they knew they’d get to see all the pros at the spot at some point anyway.
Greg: Yeah I mean it’s true that it’s changed, like before if you were going to see them it sort of had to be the signing; the Bercy/Le Dôme missions were pretty much secret. You’d barely see them. These days the pros just roll through the plaza almost every day when they’re in town. And if it’s between getting your little poster signed for a second in the shop or watching a pro skate in person a Répu, maybe even knick a hoodie and a few cherries… We all know what we’d rather do!
Auguste: Yeah there’s a bit of that but also there’s the whole Internet/Instagram thing… Like you just see them way more now, it’s not the same. But yeah having regular demos at your local spot definitely changes things.
Greg: You might not get as many people showing up as if it was a demo for the Teenage Tour (a series of nationwide contests that took place in France in the early 2000s with demos from US pros), but if your demo takes place at the skate spot, you’re still going to get a lot of kids.

Auguste Bouznad, ollie.

Alex: Also just think about the principle of it… Like now the pros come to where the skaters are rather than making them go who knows where for demos. Having a skater like Koston on a bench next to kids at Répu these days almost feels normal whereas before you couldn’t go anywhere near them… They had this whole superstar aura to them that isn’t quite the same anymore.
Greg: That being said, Auguste, I don’t know about you but if there was a big Supra demo at Bastille tomorrow I don’t know if I’d be that stoked… At the same time what do I know? Maybe kids would be into it.

Alex: You mentioned Instagram earlier Auguste, when you started skating was it already about?
Auguste: No, that came a little bit later. I don’t really remember when but yeah it wasn’t around yet.
Greg: At first for us it was just this jokes thing we’d clocked.
Auguste: I didn’t associate it with skating at all at first, that came after. We were all about just typing ‘skate’ into YouTube. Those 15-second Blobys videos were super sick though!

Alex: Was the first skate video you watched on YouTube?
Auguste: No it wasn’t actually, I think it was one that Greg gave me when he was working at Nozbone. It was Frame by Frame with that Oscar Candon part! By Olivier Fanchon. I remember it blowing my mind.
Greg: Yeah that was mental; Oscar must have been 16-17 in that right?
Auguste: The cutoff shots, the stop motion and the handmade titles, all the cruising through Paris, the night skating… I remember thinking it was so sick.

Greg Cuadrado, backside smith grind.

Alex: Oscar had to wear the same clothes for that whole stop motion intro… And it took a week.
Greg: Yeah that video was great, shout out to Olivier Fanchon!
Auguste: And Oscar Candon! I probably still have the DVD at home. Thank god they used to give us DVDs at the shop because when we’d just stick ‘skate’ into YouTube it would take us on some wild journeys… We’d often just end up watching ‘Ghetto vs. Punk’ style compilations, that sort of thing. When Romain Batard moved to Paris I remember it impressed me ‘cause I remembered his name from the Frame by Frame video. I really sessioned that thing… Even Santi (Santiago Sasson) was in it!

Alex: What about you Greg?
Greg: Mine wasn’t quite as glorious; it was Transworld’s Transmission 7 that came free with Tricks Mag. It was back when some mags came with a video.

Alex: Oh yeah we all got that one. Coming back to République… Is that where you guys met?
Auguste: Yeah but they were the older guys at the spot…
Greg: I guess it wasn’t actually that many of them (‘the kids’) and they were always all together at the spot practically every day so it happened naturally. Plus we’d see them progress…
Auguste: We had to be careful around you guys though… Especially with Karl (Salah)! He definitely had a go at us quite a few times ha ha. Especially Samy and Sauvageon… They’d get rinsed. (Laughs)
Greg: Shall I get the coffees on? Shall we head out soon?
Auguste: For sure!

Marca Barbier, gap to frontside noseblunt.

Alex: Do you remember a frontside wallride we shot about 2-3 years ago? We even shot a portrait to go with it but Greg never sent the text on time for it to get used for your Vos Gueules (check out article in Sugar Magazine).
Greg: Mea Culpa!
Auguste: Oh yeah! I had no idea that’s what happened. Thanks Greg! Dodged a bullet there… I probably look ridiculous in that photo.

Alex: So until now you’ve never had a photo in a mag?
Auguste: Well apart from you I don’t really know any photographers… Actually maybe I shot a few photos with Noni (Augustin Giovannoni) at Répu but don’t know if they got used anywhere.
Greg: I guess it’s not always easy to get your hands on the mags…

Alex: Yeah which brings us to the topic of Instagram and how that just fits into your pocket as opposed to a mag that’s available at the nearest skate shop (if they haven’t run out)…
Greg: Yeah and Instagram has that whole playful side to it. You have this thing that allows you to film, make funny little edits and share them straight away. Before you didn’t as easily have access to the whole video aspect of it and stuff…
Auguste: That being said right now between James (Cruickshank), Noni and Val (Ferreira) we’re kind of doing alright for filmers!

Tom O’Reilly, 50-50 / smith grind.

Alex: You’re right actually; it’s been a while since I’ve seen this many filmers on one spot in Paris.
Greg: Yeah we’re stacking; we’ll see how it turns out!
Auguste: Yeah and working on something proper always gets you more hyped!
Greg: In terms of motivation I think the fact that we’ve just come out of lockdown also had a lot to do with how much everyone is on it.

Alex: How was the lockdown for you guys?
Greg: I think most of us generally followed the rules. There was a ban on any kind of exercise in groups and then quite quickly even if you were to do it alone it had to be before 10am or after 7pm. Otherwise the first fine was 135 euros.
Auguste: And no further than a kilometre away from your house!
Greg: Neither Bastille nor Répu was in that 1km radius for me. I’d go to Voltaire but even that technically was too far…

Auguste: Me and Alas (Alastair Pathé) got fined at Répu. The cops were telling us, ‘all you skaters are shits; never respect anything!’
Greg: Yeah at first they really wanted to make a point of it. Nobody really knew what to do… Being able to see each other again pretty much freely definitely did us all a lot of good…

Alex: I guess the only real difference from before is not getting public transport now.
Greg: Yeah but I mean we’re almost all on bikes.
Auguste: Which is kind of good! We’re spending all our time outside, finding spots…
Greg: The first 10 days back outside were so intense that it felt like we’d been on a trip or something. Especially when for two months all you’d ever hear about is this virus, just managing to not think about that for four hours in a row felt like a victory.
Auguste: At first I was just so stoked to see everyone… I didn’t necessarily think we’d all be seeing each other every day like we did. It happened naturally.
Greg: And we got really lucky with the weather… It was such a blessing.

Alex: That first week did you guys also have the feeling that it was too good to be true, like it might not last?
Greg: Definitely, which makes you enjoy it way more.
Auguste: And we had Woodstock!
Greg: And when the terraces have just reopened, you haven’t seen your mates in ages: it’s pretty hard to end the session at 7pm.
Auguste: We even tried to send Noni into space! Ha ha!
Greg: Fuck we’re late; shall we grab the bikes and meet the others?