Skip to main content

Mall Memories: Rodney Mullen Skate Demo Sponsored by Swatch at Great Northern Mall, June 11, 1989

 

Photo from the Swatch collection of skateboarder Jürgen Blümlein. Found online.


Swatch watches were all the rage in the late eighties. And it felt like they came out of nowhere, too. It's like one day, you're reading a pile of magazines, and in every one of them- from Sassy to Thrasher-there was an ad for Swatch.

Swatch watches were fairly cheap, usually around $30-$35. They were colorful plastic, you could switch the bands, and they were waterproof. They provided a nice alternative to the standard Timex watches all the nerds would wear. They caused Beanie Baby-levels of hysteria in some markets.

It was no surprise that these tough little watches crossed over perfectly into skate culture, where bold prints and individuality were celebrated. Around 1987, Swatch started to sponsor skateboarders, who they would then send out on skate demos at malls around the United States. One of their featured skaters was Rodney Mullen, who is now known (and rightfully so) as the godfather of street skateboarding. You can't discuss skateboarding without mentioning Rodney Mullen.

I was deep into skate culture, reading Thrasher and Transworld and whatever other skate rags I could find. I was far too clumsy to ever skate myself, but I absolutely loved looking at the photos of skaters caught mid-trick; suspended in time at the perfect moment. . 


By 1989, I was in full skate rat mode. I had a group of friends who I would trade skate shirts back and forth with. A big bonus was I was one of the only girls, so I wore a lot of cute boy's favorite Bones Brigade tee shirts. Apparently, the Rodney Mullen tour had hit one of our local malls (Summit Mall, Chapel Hill Mall, and Mellett Mall- now the deceased Canton Centre Mall), but I don't recall going to any of those. Here are some ads from other demos, from the Akron Beacon Journal:



 

Our grandparents had recently bought an RV. There were six of us grandkids, and my grandpa liked to have cold beers nearby, so he frequently drove the RV to haul all of us and have chilled road sodas. We set out for Great Northern Mall, to watch Rodney Mullen do a demo outside of the May Company (currently Macy's). If you spent $35, you got a free tshirt, and you got to meet Rodney.

 The skate demos used to take place inside of stores, as well as outside in the parking lot. In case you're wondering what a skate demo inside of a mall in the eighties might look like, look no further than this video (also enjoy all of the old signage and neon!)

 

I honestly don't remember anything about this day, but I do have photos from it. You'll even get to see a very young flannelkimono in a Bones Brigade shirt that I still own. It's paper thin and feels like an ancient relic. I also still have the shirt that was free with purchase. I wish Blogger was less clunky with how the photos are displayed. I also wish I had clear photos of the May Company sign, but I don't think young me was as fixated on the signage back then.




 

12 year old me with Rodney Mullen, and my friend Angie in the background. My mom was so mad at me about that haircut, given to me by my friend Doug.



Front of Shirt

Logo on arm of shirt

Back of shirt

Cool old Swatch tag



                                 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Customer Service Can't Help You, Buddy

  I read recently that most Simon owned malls have removed their customer service desks over the past year. I worked in a Simon mall for years, and was reminded of an asshole customer story, again from the Big Coffee Shop that I worked for. Since we were in the mall, the majority of our regulars were people who also worked in the mall. One day, this guy started coming to the shop. He'd order a venti latte, extra hot, with mint syrup. Not even a mocha, this maniac was drinking hot mint milk with coffee in it. He would go, drink a bit of the drink, and then bring it back to us, complaining that it wasn't hot enough, or there wasn't enough mint syrup in it. He came in nearly every day for weeks, doing the same thing: order the drink, drink a little, bring it back and load it down with syrup and HOT HOT milk. Most of my fellow baristas would remake the drink, and LOAD the damn thing with syrup. Other baristas would follow the recipe (which I believe a large only got 5 shots of

Mall Mixtape: Tiffany "I Think We're Alone Now"

  Welcome to the Mall Mixtape! This is where we will discuss all of those songs and videos that take us to the mall. The obvious starting point (at least for me, a Gen-Xer), has to be 80's pop darling Tiffany and her breakout hit, 1987's "I Think We're Alone Now". This was a cover of a song first made popular by Tommy James and the Shondells in 1967. But, by the consumer driven mall frenzy of the late eighties, nobody remembered that.  First, here's the video. Watch it in all of it's mid eighties shot on VHS glory.    My MST3K-style notes: Tiffany was killing it with those hand flourishes.  I identify as the girl with the big hair who is singing every single word (you'll see her). The video is pure chaos. She goes from sexy train hobo to mall performing teen queen to dancing on a boardwalk in very fast succession. Also, none of her outdoor looks are actually seasonally appropriate. Why is she wearing shoulder pads at the beach like a divorcee at h

Mall History: Machine Gun Kelly's Flash Mob at South Park Mall

  Did you see Machine Gun Kelly's performance on SNL over the weekend? I did. Despite the fact that I live in Northeastern Ohio and have been hearing MGK's name for years, I've never really listened to him. I had read about his pivot to pop punk, and me, a lady who has gone to many a Warped Tour, so I was curious, finally. His performance was solid. But my immediate thought was "hey, does anyone else remember when Machine Gun Kelly got arrested at South Park Mall?" Here's what happened: In 2011, Colson Baker, aka Machine Gun Kelly, was on top of the music world, having just signed to Diddy's Bad Boy label. One day, he tweeted out to his followers, "I'm thinking about doing a flash mob at a mall or something tomorrow lol cleveland should we do one while I'm home?" Over the next few hours, he came up with the location (South Park Mall in Strongsville, Ohio), and gave his fans directions: show up in the food court, and at 5pm, "No one m