PHOTOS by PETER MERCELL, IGOR HANEČÁK and ROMAN ŠPAČEK
OK, let’s start with a cliché, but it needs to be said: The boundaries of skateboarding are endless; so are the number of places a skater will see a skate spot. That’s what makes it so damn beautiful. During a team meeting around the beginning of 2016, the Darkslide crew had started to come up with ideas of what kind of new spots could be shredded, ideally with a good portion of adventure and fun. A couple of the boys had just finished a project shot in the sewers of Prague where they discovered completely unexplored amazing spots. Therefore, the crew decided to stick with the objects-connected-with-water theme, but this time only those above ground. This was understandable, as not everyone wanted to go back to the cold dark depths of the Prague underground. It’s fucking creepy there. Anyway, one thing led to another and the project with the provisional title of “Ditches”, later renamed “Dry Season”, was born. – Vojta Freitag
Filmed by Mirek Kvapil & Marek “Mitch” Lovás
Several ditches, empty reservoirs with banks and old abandoned swimming pools were already known to the crew but for a full-length video they needed more, much more. Team rider Tarzan assumed the role of chief explorer and during his downtime he constantly tried his luck typing key words such as “abandoned swimming pools” or “fire ponds” into Google. What’s more, he was constantly examining satellite photos in detail for various dams and other basins that very often have skateable water inflow or outflow ditches. An album created with the photos linked to their locations was soon overloaded, hyping the crew to start planning their first filming tour.
After Tarzan’s initial success, other spot-hungry teammates joined in on the search. A major breakthrough was achieved by Záhul who renewed and perfected an old American method of finding backyard pools via observing gardens over the fences from car trunks. In the age of Google maps, it worked basically like this: He sat down at his PC, opened Google Maps, had a spliff and started zooming in on any shape that resembled a ditch or any other skateable object. If something caught his eye, then he’d try to find more photos of the object. This was very crucial as most of the spots that look good on the satellite images were, in reality, full of water or in ruins. Sounds quite easy, right? Well, actually without a huge amount of patience, he wouldn’t have found much since unlike the smooth concrete in the US, Czechia tends to utilize rough uneven cemented rock for its hydro-structures.
The ultimate outcome of this effort was almost a hundred pinpoints and coordinates worth exploring beckoning out from the map. All of these potential spots were then divided into several regions so the travel time between them during an outing wouldn’t take so long, allowing the crew to shred at least three or four spots a day. Since their first ramble to the end of the filming, the Darkslide boys had carried out more than a ten shorter and longer trips, travelling and exploring the length and breadth of the Czech countryside.
Surprisingly, most of the spots were skateable. Some of them required just basic clear-up, such as sweeping or tearing out weeds, while others needed a little muscle and sweat in the form of repairs. Some places the crew could spend all day shooting clips and having fun, other places it was only a one trick mission. After all the effort put into finding these spots, it was vital to at least get some shot in each location, and the lucky bastards did. Of course, not every clip could make it to the final cut or in the magazine, but every single pinpoint on the map had its own unique vibe and story which are surely going to stick with the crew forever.
From sleeping rough in the middle of empty swimming pools, brewing morning coffee and pouring it into whatever was at hand to using leaves to wipe their asses made these trips ones to never forget. However, this hunger to seek out new spots also led to more extraordinary situations. The boys will certainly never forget the hunter who chased them with a rifle – luckily, no shots were fired, trespassing on to secure airport premises or the two sweaty days emptying and cleaning a garden pond and then partying like fiends with the owners after the session. Thanks to the help of the crew, those owners now farm fish in that pond. That’s what can be called a “win-win situation”.
Such bold undertakings come highly recommended by the Darkslide Crew. You don’t need much, just shovels, brooms, a little bit of a concrete for patching up holes here and there, and most importantly plenty of patience. A very big thanks to everyone who helped with the project, and we hope you all enjoy these pages as well as the entire Dry Season video.
Filmed by Mirek Kvapil & Marek “Mitch” Lovás