“In HD times, we do photocopies, that's how clueless we are!”
Every city, town and village has one… Or should, at least. The type of guy that will build a ledge to skate in his tiny garage when it's minus something outside. The type of guy that will turn it into a super steep mini ramp complex the second his parents will give in. The type of guy that will not give you the option to not come on a week-end road trip with him. The type of guy that knows how to pour concrete and do the white balance on the crew camera… The type of guy that actually might not know how, but will try anyway. The type of guy that will make you feel guilty for being so lazy, but in a good way. As in, you will hand up giving him a hand on his new project. It will be wort it! For the results, but also the memories that will come with it.
Basically, everywhere, there should be a Jo Dezecot. Well, maybe not… But one thing is for sure, they do have one handy, in Tours! And it shows.
Jo, backside 180 melon. photo: Nico Boutin
So, are you, personally, from Tours?
Yep, well, from Cléré-les-Pins, in the countryside, to be precise. But, yes, from the land of castles and good wine!
This is where you found out about skateboarding?
Yes, my older brother Greg did the very first ollie in our village. We followed with my little brother, and a dozen of buddies. We quickly got involved: associations, a concrete bowl, video projects, photos, we were so into it, all the time!
Tell us about the scene in Tours, around those times…
The skate scene was mainly skaters our age, there was no “older guys” and “younger guys” crew. It was Sam Partaix, the Boutin brothers, the Dezecot brothers, Alexis Jamet, Louis Sebban and a few others. We were never a lot, but it was different from now. We had that indoor park “Riderland”, where we would meet up during winter, and the street sessions, to film, whenever we could. We spent entire days to look for new spots, even if it was raining, we were obsessed.
Nico Boutin, wallie frontside 180. photo: Jo Dezecot
How would you compare it to nowadays?
There are a bit more skaters, I believe, but the kids are a more preoccupied by the trends and the “in” tricks, rather than just learning what comes naturally, finding spots, and doing things for the scene, together, hand in hand! I think the spirit is more competitive, and that there isn't much going on. Everybody goes to the skatepark. We could care less that skating was banned in the streets, we would go skate, and that was that, nobody cared about bumping into cops or not. Every day was a contribution to an ongoing project, and that was our motivation! But my vision might be a bit biased –and I hope so– as I don't spend that much time in the streets, or at the park. So, my judgement is based on glimpses of the scene I get to see, from time to time.
Wait, skateboarding is banned in Tours?
Yes, there has been a local law for about ten years, maybe more, that forbids the simple fact of rolling around the whole city of Tours. There is a 35 Euros fine, and many friends have landed one, just like that, no question asked. I have been lucky so far: I've had sessions stopped many times during the day, my ID checked, my name written down on a little notebook, but it's been that… In the whole city center, you can't expect to skate one place for too long, even at night. They are everywhere and sometimes it feels they have nothing better to do than enforce that law and chase skaters around. The other day, I was going to the pharmacy cruising on my board, I hear this loud whistle: cops were running after me! As if I had run a red light in my car or something! But, anyway, we were motivated, that never killed street skating!
Flo Boutin, backside smithgrind. photo: Jo Dezecot
Like many people, I “found out” about Tours with Skate Pistols the shop and its video. How important do you think a “real” skateshop is to a city?
That video project sure got people speaking. With Greg, we had invested in a camera for this shop video, and it still films Parisii, and has also been used for Frame by Frame. Once again, we were involved 100%. Sam had the courage, while being 18, to open a shop with help of his mom, and we were behind him all the way till the end, with all the energy we had, and this is what we do for La Bonne Planchette, nowadays. We pour energy into it, because it's fun, and we're all friends, and it is the local shop that shapes the scene image. We're so obsessed and narcissistic that only our public image matters! The skateshop is also the meeting point before the session, and that is really important, as in Tours we have no central plaza where skaters can hang out at and meet up, as you need to always be on the move to dupe the police. You can easily link that to the motivation that Greg puts into Parisii: he keeps on doing what we were doing together, but on a much bigger playground!
Alexis Jamet, backside nosebluntslide.
So far, Sam Partaix is Tours' claim to fame?
Yep, Sam is so motivated, and so good, he deserves all his success! And thanks to him, amongst things, many people stopped by to skate Tours, and we've made many friends and connections… Thanks, Sam!
Does he comes back sometimes?
Yep, at least four five times a year, he has family here. He spends his time here partying and skating, with no plan, I think, just with his friends. There is no room for business when he comes to Tours. At least, that's how I see it, and it's a great thing.
Greg was telling me that the three years with a shop were rough… In what way?
Yep, it was a bit of a pain: we had no meeting point. Plus, I moved around a bit for two years. Greg had moved to Paris. Sam took off to travel the world and Alexis went to the South… So, yes, it was a bit much, nothing was going on at all. Nobody was filming, no projects to boost people, everybody was struggling even to buy products. A broken bearing could kill the session! Then, Alexis came back to Tours with buddies –Julien Bonnet and Maxime Nicolas– to open a new shop. Myself, I moved back in the area, and it started all other again!
Anthony Charreau, fs boardslide.
What gave you the idea of Dusty, a paper zine, of all things? Does that even register, for the kids?
So, Dusty was born for the will of Alexis Jamet to actually hold something cool in his own hands. For myself, at first, it was a bit to find a place for all my photos, as well as a way to to boost the scene in a different way. We were complementary on that one, and I am happy that project took off, as I had been thinking about something like that for a while, but laying out isn't my thing, so I was waiting for someone like Alexis! And I realize now it gets the kids stoked… We try to get the new generation involved, it's our contribution to galvanize the scene, and it's working quite well, so far. In HD times, we do photocopies, that's how clueless we are!
You were complaining about the younger generation, as any old man would do, but what would you tell them, around that whole “scene” theme, actually?
I don't know. AS I said, my vision isn't necessarily right. I think they should keep on doing what they want to do, without forcing anything. If the motivation is here, it'll push them to do cool things. Through Dusty, and the video projects we try to make happen, the message is clear: if they think it's cool, they'll do something along those lines, or maybe even better things, I 'd hope! Then again, I won't blame them if they don't do anything, in the future, to keep their scene alive. Maybe it is us that are too obsessed with the image of our city we want to project, because we were frustrated to be in a small town far from the media. So, we do everything by ourselves, to not vanish from earth! DIY!
If the message isn't clear enough, have a look at the latest Tours collective project to come to fruition, for Live, and also get yourself a copy of Dusty: