Wernside DIY hosted an invitational jam but they didn’t invite anyone due to the tightening of restrictions… instead builders and contributors of the spot joined for a jam behind closed doors. Witness some shredding in photo and video form by plenty of Welcome and Division 24 affiliates, including Paul ‘Wapo’ Watson, Albie Edmonds, T-Bone, Blinky, Jono Coote, Adam Jeffreson, Dave Tyson, Nicole Littlewood, Martyn Hill, Jess Melia-Hill, Ian ‘Parfit’ Blackburn, Harry Townend, Tom Wade, Aiden Blaymire, Laurie O’Hara and save the best til last… Tom Brown!
Cracked hands and lactic acid, road rash and concrete burns, all the usual pains of building a DIY spot are eclipsed by the transience which accompanies them and the discovery one day – a month, a year, five years down the line – that all your hard work has been destroyed. This transience is arguably one of the founding tenets of the DIY ethos, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Wastelands become temporary masterpieces, needlestrewn wasteland sculpted into concrete Shangri-La’s, before the relentless march of capitalist progress reduces them to rubble and a future site for luxury flats; or, when the deal falls through, a return to junk paradise. This almost certain temporality must be ignored as completely as oozing scab or flapping blister in pursuit of the brief nirvana inherent in a good skate.
Wernside is a different prospect entirely, the dead space out back of LS-Ten Skatepark finally used to its full potential when those in charge realised that they had a crew of willing builders not afraid of getting stuck in to a pour. Appreciation was shown in free skate sessions indoors, a continuous supply of concrete, and for a brief but memorable period in black bin bags brimming with out of date cans of Scrumpy Jacks. Left to the elements and accordingly grime-blackened at the rim, chances were best taken spending an extra fiver at the garage but sometimes pockets are tight, needs must and the chemical burn of fake apple will sit uneasily victorious on the palate; if nothing else, it damps down the tang of concrete dust.
Spots come and go, but the good times always roll again and with the blessing of the LS-Ten crew we seem for the first time to be in a fairly solid position. We had planned on celebrating this fact with an inaugural jam a few Saturdays ago, but the moving of the final lifting of restrictions meant that we had to push that date forward and this weekend ended up being a more private, personal celebration consisting of the crew who had spent the past year pouring their energy and free time into the build. On a grey but thankfully dry day we gathered at the spot, beers and BBQ ingredients at the ready, and got straight into the session. By no means welcoming, these strange swoops and curves and kinks – echoes of past spots, concrete homage with hints of Needleside, The Joint, The Dustbowl, Sexy Meatside – take their first victim early in the session via the medium of Sam Hutchinson’s wrist. A moment of quiet, a quick decision on whether a hospital visit was required, the Legless Angel of Beeston looking on without emotion and the huge spiral eyed viking skull, crafted by Bobbi Abbey, overseeing proceedings with a rictus grin; after a lull while one of the session’s biggest hypemen was driven to A&E and we tried to shake the image of him hitting the flat bottom from our minds, the momentum slowly built back up.
I’ll let the footage and photos describe what went down better than my words ever could, but suffice to say we christened it in style. Wrists were sprained, epidermises were breached, consciousnesses were expanded, Sam returned with his arm in a sling, heads were damaged in drunken chair breaking incidents, and from the midst of the chaos skateboarding tricks were occasionally snatched. Much love and appreciation to LS-Ten for giving us the chance to utilise the space to create something unique, challenging and most of all fun. As the evening draws onwards my mind starts filling in the blanks, the gaps where space can still be filled. By the time lockdown loosening allows a full opening we will be even deeper into the build, but before dropping in you would do well to heed the words of Werner Herzog that this is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.