Our featured legend for this month is the godfather of skateboaring in Spain, know to all as Doc Caribbean. I had the pleasure of a nice long chat with this very stoked gentleman and we hope you find it as enjoyable and informative as I did. So much stoke!
Hello Jose, really stoked to talk to you tonight!
The pleasure is mine. I’m very excited about your interest in my story and experience about skateboarding. We saw the interview you did with Flavio Badenes and thought, “wow, we also want” and a few days later we received your mail. AMAZING!!
When did you first meet Flavio?
I first met Flavio at the Trocadero Paris Slalom WorldCup of 2008, he was interested in the oldschool board I was riding at the competition. While everyone else was riding modern slalom boards with precision trucks me and my two sons were riding my oldschool slalom quiver (Hobie Flex with Tracker Half Trucks and Roadrider wheels / G&S Fiberflex with Gullwing H.P.G IV and Krypto wheels). The most exciting thing is that I ran in that same spot with the exact set up in the 80’s. I’m 58 years old and my memory is getting worse with time so I can’t remember the exact year.
Was it a similar set up from the 80’s or the same exact board you were still riding?
Exactly the same set up and the same SKF bearings and Nachi bearings. The rest of the competitors were looking to us and saying “Crazy damn oldschool Spaniards”. We had loads of fun and met very interesting people like Flavio, Richy Carrasco, Pele Plast, Dominik Kovalski, Ramón Königshausen.
How has the board remained ride-able after over 20 years?
I’ve had many boards, I’ve broken ones, sold or exchange others… but the first three quality boards I bought, well I keep them like treasure. I still use them, I just fix any scratches after crashes.
What were your first three boards?
– Hobie Mike Weed with Hobie ACS 500 Trucks and Hobie Translucent Wheels
– Hobie Flex with Tracker Half Trucks and Roadrider wheels
– Gullwing H.P.G IV and Krypto wheels
I skated these boards over the 70’s and 80’s trying all the disciplines. I must say that my favourite ones and the ones I was better at were slalom and high jump. I used to jump 1.50 meters; I came in second in the First National Skateboard Competition. I also loved to do handstands on the board.
What disciplines do you do now?
Mainly slalom, I’ll keep competing as long as my body lets me. What I like most is just to go down hills feeling the fresh air with a surfing style. Not going too fast but marking every movement, touching the ground and feeling the vibes that a simple wooden board with two trucks and four wheels can transmit while riding the asphalt.
Do/did you surf?
Yes I did, I started surfing in 1970 in the Basque Country where I used to spent my vacations. Nowadays I don’t have that much time to surf but every summer if the waves are not too big I try to ride some waves with boards of more than 7”. I must accept that my surfing abilities are not as good as they once were and the last time I had a bath I couldn’t catch any wave. I’m definitely getting old.
When did you start skating?
I first stared practicing roller skating in the 60’s when I was a kid. Then at school I entered the Skating Hockey Team and in 1969 I bought my first skateboard, it was a beech wooden Sanckeski with rubber wheels. In 1973 I went to Berckley, this was when skateboarding started to hit the United States in a big way due to the change of wheels from wood to urethane. This was definitely a huge change to the sport. I bought the boards I mentioned at the beginning of the interview and spent more time skating than doing anything else.
When I came back to Spain, I used to skate in El Parque del Retiro and many people used to stop me and ask me about the strange thing I had below my feet. It seemed like many people where interested so I thought about importing them. And this is how in 1975 the first Spanish skateboard shop was established.
Wow! In 1975 how many people in Spain were skateboarding?
To start with there weren’t too many skaters, but we did a lot to promote the sport. With the help of the Sancheski family, every weekend we would meet with all the skateboarders at Nuevos Ministerios and erected a ramp for everybody to use. You could say it was something similar to what is happening today with longboarding. It was a great community, allowing people to share a hobby, keep active, have fun and help the sport to grow and improve.
With the passing of time, more and more people started skateboarding. For me it was the nicest stage of skateboarding. Nowadays the feeling in longboarding is similar to back then and I hope it keeps going this way; LOOKING AT OUR HISTORY IN ORDER TO DETERMINE THE RIGHT PATH FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE.
The big boom of skateboarding in Spain was from 1978 to 1981. There were many competitions, skatepark builds and important brands started supporting the sport. Plus in 1987 some of the Bones Brigade came to skate in El Parque Sindical. If you take a look at our facebook “Oldies” photo album, you’ll get a clear idea of how skateboarding started in Spain.
Do you still skate with anyone from that period?
Yes I do and it’s a very satisfying feeling. Many of them learnt to skate because of my lessons but they quickly ended up teaching me how to do things. Some of the kids were half my age and as everybody knows, kids learn very very quickly, and they are fearless.
I still skate with Alvaro Rivas, Marco Corrales, Jaime Armero, Ángel Moreno, Gonzalo Diez… and I cant forget about Ricardo Damborenea (RD), he was the first Spanish pro rider to have a pro model from Sancheski. These days I skate with Ricardo the most. We’ve recently participated in slalom competitions abroad (Paris and Amsterdam).
How often do you compete these days?
We have a slalom competition calendar in Spain, so nearly every weekend we have a contest. In the last 5 years I’ve been in three international contests from the ISSA. This year I would love to go to Paris, Amsterdam and if it’s possible Grenoble.
At the moment I’m ranked 150 in the men’s amateur world ranking and 30 in the world Masters Ranking (over 45 years) and remember that I’m 58.
That is pretty impressive! Who organises the slalom competitions in Spain?
The competitions are organised by Ricardo Damborenea who is an ISSA deputy. The competitions have also been made possible with the help of MOSS, an association created to offer skateboarders different activities.
Earlier you mentioned the Sancheski family, what was their involvement with the development of the scene?
They were deeply involved with helping to promote skateboarding back then. They were the first to manufacture skateboards in Spain so they where always promoting the sport. They made many exhibitions, organised contest and helped kids by sponsoring them. They’ve always been there and for me and it is a great honour to have done things together. They were established in 1930 and are still on the wave. If we have to organise something the first people we think about are our friends from Sancheski.
So back to the history, you said the first shop was established in 1975 after you returned from the West coast?
Yes that’s it, I founded Caribbean and I still run the business with the same joy as I did all those years ago. We also introduced the Californian dress style of wearing colorful shoes and t-shirts, I remember how people used to call us tacky. Over the years you would see many people wearing those types of clothes.
How hard was it back then setting up a skate shop when nobody even knew about skateboarding?
I can’t really say it was hard, passion made everything easy. I’m the type of person who loves sharing things, especially knowledge. So it was nice to show people what skateboarding was about.
How did the scene in Spain/Europe change after the 70s?
At the beginning of the 80’s skateboarding suffered a hit, many companies on the scene got ruined. Then in the mid 80’s came the biggest boom, a resurrection from the ashes. From the 90’s through to today, skateboarding has maintained it’s popularity and it continues to be a successful sport. Nowadays we are living in a new boom. We think it started due to those who skated in the 70’s. Looking for a more relaxed way of skating, using soft wheels and retro/ bigger boards. Nowadays there are many young people taking longboarding to a new dimension, doing things that 5 years ago would have been unimaginable. People thought longboards were only for those oldschool guys who wanted to feel like they were surfing but it’s obvious that these boards fit everyone and that is the clue to its success.
Right now, with the big boom we are seeing in Longboarding, it is hard to see it dying down, what do you think the future holds for our dear sport?
It’s hard to predict. The community is planting a good seed and that will give healthy fruits. Obviously many people are starting to longboard just because it makes them look cool but in the end the people who really love longboarding and are involved in it for the right reasons will remain. I’ve been skateboarding since the 70’s and I try to transmit the the true feeling of this sport to the people near me. If they only feel half of what I do I can assure you, they’ll keep skating.
How was this last season for you?
Haha. What was the highlight?
Being 58 years old and still skating with my two sons, Borja and Nacho.
They inherited the skate gene! When did you teach them to skate?
Since they were born my wife and I took them to the meetings I’ve already talked about and they were always getting on the boards.
Do they help you in the shop?
They both have their own jobs but help me with other stuffs such as promotions, advertising, and contacting distributors. In their holidays if they come to the shop they know when they get in but not when they’re gonna leave.
Where is the shop?
In Madrid, Calle Columela nº5 nearby to El Parque de El Retiro.
The longboard scene in Madrid is special, why is it so vibrant?
The longboard scene in Madrid is completely sick! It’s amazing how many things have occurred in the city. Since the beginning we’ve been very active. I must mention our favourite longboard activist; Rául Serrano (Ra) who’s always thinking how to get the community together. It’s all about the community!
So how did skateboarding spread from Madrid to the rest of Spain?
The Basque Country and Barcelona also were two main points. From these cities it started to grow to the rest.
When did the people in your city start longboarding?
Around 2004/2005 we started to see more people than normal. We’ve had Sector 9 longboards since 1993 but only few people asked for them.
That’s not very long, for the size of the scene there! Why has it grown so fast?
Spaniards are very passionate about everything they do.
What is your involvement with the local longboard scene?
Full involvement. We are open to any proposal. We’ve collaborated in one way or another in nearly everything that has taken place in Madrid and with things organised in other cities. We especially liked collaborating as Staff in La Noche en Negro and also sponsoring three riders in their 500km longbaord trip.
La Noche en Negro was amazing. Is it your favourite event on the local calendar?
We consider everything we collaborate with “our favourite” but certainly the atmosphere in La Noche en Negro was completely magical.
That’s the only word that is adequate – Gnargical! What are your expectations for this year?
Keep having fun as always, I hope to attend one or two comps out of Spain and participate in a 1000 strong longers (longboarder) meeting.
Tell me. I’ll grab my board and follow you.
I mean the 1000 strong meeting! Will we see that at La Noche en Blanco this year?
It’s just something I wish to do, but don’t know if this year there will be any meeting that big. In La Noche en Negro there were nearly 600 so maybe La Noche en Blanco breaks that record. I heard something about Longboard Europe and All Around Skate organising a European meeting so maybe that’s the date.
Haha, I think many of the members of Longboard Europe are organising big things for this year, like Ra with La Noche En Blanco in September and Michael Aho organising a big meeting in Stockholm this August, last year they had about 400 riders so it will definitely be another monster euro event. You are of course very very cordially invited!
Great! You mentioned earlier than you sponsored some riders for a 500km trip. Does your shop have a team?
We used to have an official team in the 70’s and we went to many competitions. I remember the trips in the van with all the kids. I had to ask for their fathers permission so they could come. Now we don’t have a common team. We have very close friends with whom we collaborate. For example Daniel Navarro who is number 9 in the Amateurs Slalom Ranking of the ISSA, Paula Carmona our favourite redhead and member of LGC and Borja_Caribbean and Nacho_Caribbean.
On the trip of 500km we collaborated with Ra, Javier Ferrer and Quique Ballester giving them hardware and all of our support.
Does Paula get her long socks from the Caribbean shop?
Off course ;D
Are you involved with the ISSA?
Almost done! Can you choose 3 numbers between 1-20
5 – 3 – 18
5 – Who is the best skater you’ve met ?
Christian Hosoi for his agility and awesome aerials
From our local scene; Alvaro Rivas, (Caribbean Team member form the late 70’s). Never seen a kid with so much style.
3 – What impact has longboarding had on your life
My daily bread
8- What is/was your favourite Cartoon?
Thanks a lot for taking so much time out to share your story with us tonight. Looking forward to skating with you soon!
It’s been a great pleasure!!!