The Trocadéro: An historical spot of the Parisian skating scene
The history of skating at the Trocadéro
The 340 team: Do you know where that name comes from? During the Occupation of WW2, the resistant fighters used it as a code name (Three, Four, Zero) to meet at the famous Parisian monument facing the Eiffel Tower. A public place, optimal to remain discreet!
The true love story between skating and the Trocadéro dates back to 1937
In fact, the history of skating at the Trocadéro dates back to the pre-war years. People skated there as soon as 1937, the date of the 'Arts and Technique in Modern Life' international exhibition, from which the old rococo monument made room for the esplanade and modern buildings. With that new era came the skaters!
At first, most of the skaters were kids using the upper part of the Trocadéro. The grown-ups arrived far later.
Florimond Dufour, an obscure celebrity who marked the history of the Trocadéro
Florimond Dufour was a professional accountant. He was one of the stars of the Trocadéro. Well dressed in his dark costume and tie, he used to skate in the rinks before WW1. Florimond Dufour was an expert in compulsory dances. One day, he had his heart set on the Esplanade of the Trocadéro.
For more than 25 years, from 1950 to 1975, he brought his gramophone on which he played German military marches and 1900's waltzes. He would dance, holding in his arms an imaginary partner. He was very apprehensive of falling because of the kids around, and would make them go away as soon as he would arrive. And when he would have a break, the kids would immediately take the space over again.
One day he had a bad fall. The doctor then forbid him to skate backwards. He fell again and had to stop skating. He would still come and play his records, miming his dances by foot. At the end of the day, he would take the metro back, the ticket inspector knew him and would worry if he didn't show up.
Sometimes people would throw him a few coins, both fascinated and amused, but he was not begging... he would only pick them up not to trip on them!
Movie stars at the Trocadéro
We came across a few movie stars at the Trocadéro. Especially Gene Kelly whose skating feats don't need proving anymore.
Nina Companeez did justice to the Trocadéro in 1976 with the movie 'Comme sur des roulettes'.
The 'Trocadéro Bleu Citron' movie was released in 1980 with Anny Duperey, Lionel Melet and Bérangère De La Gatinerie. It is the story of two young lovers, Phil and Caroline, who meet in the gardens of the Trocadéro to devote themselves to their favorite sport, skateboarding.
In 1981, 'Pour la peau d'un flic' brings Alain Delon onto the mythical Parisian spot, just like 'L'indiscrétion' (1982), a movie by Pierre Lary.
Then it's the turn of Joy and Joan of Jacques Saurel in 1984 on a very different note.
In 1983, a remake by Don Camillo stages Terence Hill for the needs of an advert. The actor skates on the Esplanade dressed as a parish priest and surrounded by kids.
The 1970's are marked by the skateboarding boom. In the early 1970's a first wave arrives. Amongst the personalities who marked that skateboarding period: José Dematos, Joël Boisgontier (1975), the Almuzaras Brothers (Patrice and Gérard) who were slalom enthusiasts. At first, the slalomers used cans, then the manufacturers created real cones.
The skaters had fun going downhill, standing or sitting, full speed, and making big slides. Lots of them were competitors.
The 1980's: the golden years
Until 1979, the reign of iron skates confined the practice to kids. Grown-ups arrived in the 1980's with the appearance of polyurethane wheels. They made the most of the architecture of the Trocadéro to make acrobatics: a little slope near a small dozen steps was used as a springboard, the steps were used for tac-tac or jumps...
In the 1980's, the practice moves geographically: little by little, people leave the heights to go and practice below. This is when slalom skating on the slopes on each side of the fountains starts...
Quad skaters and skateboarders mix. Some are inviting themselves on the others' cone lines, the atmosphere gets more relaxed.
But a cone is down, it can become a big thing. Cohabitation was sometimes tense.
There you would come across Zola Kikonko, Mouss, Petit Ben, Kalou...
The 340 Team
The famous 304 Team saw the light between 1985 and 1987. It was still active in 2008. Amongst its famous members, let's cite: Phil Dussol, Taig Khris, President Eric Forestier, Tarik Slaim and others!
In the afternoon, the artists would arrive, they would set up their equipment and the Trocadéro would turn into a show. There was jumping, tac-tac in the stairs...
Phil Dussol, aka Tony Boy, remains the biggest figurehead of that time. He appeared in several adverts, including one for Mercedes. He did amazing demos with huge jumps above vehicles: a plane, a 4x4, a motorcar. He even played the part of a character called Basile in a short film entitled 'Une Famille Formidable' in which you can see him jump above a woman with a pushchair. He is also at the root of the 'Easy Money' short film, which would have inspired some scenes of 'Riders' by Gérard Pirès.
At the same time, you could also come across Hom there...
In the 1990's, it is the arrival of inline skates. In 1993, Tarik Slaim is one of the first skaters to use them. In two years, an important part of the skaters shift to inline skates.
The Rollermania skaters invest the slopes. You could meet Serge Rodriguez who gave advice to the other skaters. The latters would stay full afternoons on the spot. There were also Wawa (Walid Nouh), Roy Collet, Agnès, Géraldine...
In 1995, the French Championships of Acrobatics Skating takes place on the Trocadéro. The event even had the honnor of welcoming Stade 2 at the time!
The Trocadéo, a skaters' meeting point
The Trocadéro is going to become a regular crossing point for the Parisian city skates of the Randonneurs Fous, of Roller et Coquillages and of Pari Roller.
Major events are organized there. 2002 is the year of the first bladercross of the Trocadéro: Roll'Heure. Let's also cite the 2004 bladercross, a Freeskate competition sponsored by Salomon, a ramp skating competition with the LG Action Sports, and more recently the Paris Slalom World Cup which still takes place every year.
Why has the spot been deserted?
Lots of factors seem to be at the root of a frequentation drop. In the closest period, the drop may be attributed to the end of the skating 'trend'. Then, spaces were open to practice. 50 years ago, skaters were confined in closed or limited places, for want of adapted spaces. The booming of city skates favored the deserting of the traditional skating spots.
Last but not least, more and more various events are organized on the Trocadéro: You often come across tractor trailers unloading equipment for a show, a delivery, some event...
LinksTexte : Alfathor
Thanks to Sam Nieswizski
Serge Rodriguez et Régis Patine
Photos: rollerfr, Regis Patine, all rights reserved