Duke Rennie: When We Were Kids Pt.2
Part 2: Pay Attention To Your Dreams.
- By Duke Rennie
Fred Blood and I skated at Skateboard World in Torrance, CA a few times together and became fast friends. He invited me to skate with him at the beach. One of Fred’s good friends at that time was Steve Rocco. I’d met Steve at school; we all went to Redondo Union High School. Steve Rocco was an amazing Freestyle Skateboarder. Fred and Steve both lived in Hermosa Beach. What I found was these guys would put on impromptu Skate Demos at the Hermosa Pier. These shows would gather huge crowds on a summer day. Lots of skaters joined in the shows, but Fred and Steve were star performers. Steve Rocco was world champion and went on to change skateboarding in many ways. Not just the tricks but business as well. (See “The Man Who Souled the World” below, for a history lesson.)
Those early beach Demo’s were super fun, and Fred and Steve got me hooked on skating for an audience. Those shows were mostly things like jumping over bicycles, spinning 360’s till I couldn’t see straight, jumping over people, one-footed heel wheelies and nose wheelies, (the term “Manual” wasn’t a thing yet, so we did “Wheelies”!) and of course long, noisy, dramatic power slides. Cindy Whitehead almost always joined us. She was mostly a “vert” skateboarder but also put on a great freestyle show. Her brand Girl represents Cindy's relentless support, and promotion of Women’s Skateboarding is represented by her brand Girl is NOT a four-letter Word. Very quickly the four of us became the Skateboard World Demo Team and took these freestyle shows to local grade schools and would perform during school assemblies to loud Rock and Roll music. No one ever seemed to question why we weren’t in school.
"Pay attention to your dreams." - Duke Rennie
We went to the Skatepark every night. Rarely did we ever miss a night. Fred and I were in constant competition and always trying something new. At that time the things we were trying had never been done so we were beyond curious about what was possible. I often dreamed about skating and still do. If I could see a trick in my dreams, it was usually possible in real life. So the next day I would go for it and usually work it out. Much later in my skate career after Fred and I had already turned Pro, we would have a contest at Whittier Skate City. They had a nice big pool that suited me and my style. Fred had beat me at two previous Pro competitions, and I needed something. The night before that contest, I dreamed of doing the 540 invert. I tried it for the first time in practice and pulled it off. The second time I ever did it, I beat Fred Blood for the 1st time. Fred never learned that trick and to my knowledge never tried it. Pay attention to your dreams. That was one of my favorite.
Image: Duke Rennie, Runway Skatepark, Carson. 1977 (or so he thinks). Source: @dukerennie
Things we learned, in the beginning, were things we saw the skateboarders doing — things like Bertleman slides and laybacks. We would hit the toe stops of our trailing skate to mimic tail-taps at the top of the halfpipe. We learned Alley Oops, first backside, and then frontside. Frontside Alley Oops are the scariest! We did 540 toe spins on the banks of the freestyle area. Mostly what we learned every night and every day was that we loved skating and that skating had improved our quality of life a great deal. That was 40 years ago, and I’ll be on my way to the skatepark in a couple of hours.
Be well and skate a pool!
- Duke Rennie