Chris Hall has been a fixture in the Washington D.C. skateboarding community for the last 20 years. He skated downtown before it was cool, and collected sneakers BEFORE there were boutiques, line ups, and niketalk (like we’re talking when cats used to get murked for their Js). For the past 2 years he has been working on a skate video titled “Get Familiar” that showcases some of the best skaters in the world, including those from the DC/MD/VA area. Read this interview, soak up some game, search ebay for vintage kicks, and hit the streets with your camera and film some ill tricks….
What first attracted you to skateboarding?
I was living in austrailia and I saw some dude skate down the street and hop up the curb and I just got siked. I wasn’t even skating then. I didn’t even know where to get a skateboard at. I finally found one but the bearings stopped rolling so I waited 3 years to go back to the usa and start skating for real.
What are some early memories that stick out from skating downtown?
Well skating downtown in like 86 87 it was a wild. I remember seeing crazy fights and stuff I wasn’t used to seeing where I lived. We used to just skate from spot to spot all over the city. We would never really chill at Pulaski. We would just skate through.
Can you give us a description of who Pepe Martinez was and his importance to D.C. skating and you as a friend?
Pepe was a great friend of mine. And I grew up skating with him and got sponsored with him etc. we made up tricks together and all that. He was way better than I was. Always a step ahead. A real innovator. He would do tricks that were amazing. First person I iever saw do a hardflip. Im pretty sure he invented it. I have it on tape. He was a great person and dcs smoothest skater ever.
It seems as if the D.C. area has a long tradition of pumping out excellent pro and am skaters (andy stone, john igei, reese forbes, scott johnston, etc), who go onto, big things in the industry – what is your take on that and why?
Im not sure why. I guess because Virginia and Maryland are so damn big. Most of the dc heads are not from dc but Virginia or Maryland.
With Freedom Plaza being the de facto/most popular spot in D.C. do u think kids really appreciate it? Do u think kids rely on it to much to skate instead of venturing out into the city and finding other spots.
Sometimes they do. Its a magnet spot for the younger kids. Now that im older i dont rely on it as much but i used to be there 24 /7.
You seem to have a very important hand in the guidance of two of the areas finest skaters – Darren Harper and Bobby Worrest – what knowledge have you passed down to them as far as being in “the industry”?
Well I just tell Darren to be patient and practice. That all you need . hes got it. Hell blow real soon. Bobby doesn’t listen to me I think.
Tell us about your film “Get Familiar”….
It is a skate video I have been working on for 2 years. It has full parts by mark Gonzales, Darren harper, casey rigney, zach lyons, donny barley, bobby worrest and daewon song. Plus guest parts by joey pepper, reese forbes and james craig. It’s a fun video and im working on it every day all day right now.
When can we expect the dvd to drop?
Early november for sure.
Whats your relationship like w/the Gonz? How far do y’all go back?
I first met/skated with Mark in like 93 in a garage in Virginia by my house,. It was a real intense session. Beyond words. Then just a few years ago I ran into him in nyc and we have been doing things since. Hes fun to skate with
I have seen a few traliers for get familiar and they see to feature a good amount of local skaters – what flavor do d.c. skaters bring that is different from philly or ny?
New york , philly and dc all hold it down. I think a large percentage of people in dc have big pop. Like Darren harper, reese forbes, Daniel kim, etc. not to much differences in the areas.
Skaters in D.C. seems to have garnered alot of attention in the last year – with the help of yourself and other outlets like the forgottencity.com – who do u think is the skater to come out of the “urea” to blow up?
Well Darren is about to blow. Zach is about to blow. Bobby is already out there. Daniel kim is this new dude who will make in the skate world if he wants. He is sick. Lil James is coming along also.
Does the whole D.C./MD/VA matter in skating? I’ve seen Darren Harper speak on the issue about kids who are from MD/VA saying they’re from D.C., and it seemed to bother him – is that a real issue in local skating?
He takes pride in his city and i understand where he is coming from but its not a big deal with most of the skaters.
For those who don’t have the most experience w/them what is the different between an ok skate video and a great one?
Well a ok skate video is put together in A short period of time with not good filming or editing and its watched once and then put on the shelf or thrown away. A good skate video is filmed well, edited well and has a good feeling to it. It takes at least 2 years to do a good skate video unless you have many people working on it at once.
Your rep and knowledge as a sneaker connoisseur has been well documented through the pages of Mass Appeal magazine and Niketalk.com (at least back in ’03-04)…what was your early attraction to sneakers?
I got into sneakers by randomly noticing differences in the way that adidas superstars were made. I was on F st in dc foing to tippys RIP and I remember going to look for a pair of superstars and only finding the ones with flat tounges. The ones I wanted had the cushioned tounges. So when I picked up the flat tounged ones I saw they were made in france. And the ones I wanted I found out were made in china or somewhere like that. Ever since then I got into collecting and hunting.
What do u think about the state of sneakers as a whole (retros, sbs, ebay) in 2006?
I don’t follow it really. I don’t buy any of the new kicks. I think its stale. All I see is people wanting rare dunks or rare air force 1s. thats so limited. Not really feeling it so much.
Jordans 5s are mine – What are your favorite sneakers of all time?
Its hard to say. There are so many dope ones. I guess right now I would say the adidas superstar.
I know that I was never able gonna be able to cop the first foams that dropped in ’97 because moms thought that $185 was too much for shoes – What pair of sneakers were you never able to get your hands on that you wish you could?
I think the adidas instincts right when they dropped in 87. they were more than $100 I think.
I know you used to write for Mass Appeal Mag, how was that?
It was cool. i did it for about a year and a half. It was hard to write something different about sneakers every month but it was a great learning experience.
Any last words….
Buy my album when I drop it!