This Wednesday, Sun-Ray Cinema hosts a special showing of a new skateboarding documentary. Blood and Steel tells the story of skateboarding site Cedar Crest, and the youth and music movements that materialized there from 1985 to 1992.
Long-time Jacksonville skater Todd Johnson recalls his time at Cedar Crest with longing. “It was a perfect ramp,” says Johnson. “A lot of backyard ramps back then were homemade—people trying to figure out how to build a ramp as they were doing it. But this ramp was solid.”
The legendary ramp, built in 1985 at Cedar Crest Country Club, was tucked away in the woods and hills off a country road near the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Johnson first traveled to Cedar Crest to skate in 1987. “It was in the middle of nowhere,” says Johnson, “in a section of woods surrounded by super tall trees.”
“It was a perfect ramp. A lot of backyard ramps back then were homemade—people trying to figure out how to build a ramp as they were doing it. But this ramp was solid.”
The Crest’s reputation came from its unique material—steel. Intense popularity led to “snake sessions,” when too many skaters would drop in at once. Johnson recalls a great deal of collisions on the ramp. “People broke bones. There’s a lot of g-force and inertia involved on a steel ramp. For younger skaters, it wasn’t a place to go learn how to skate.”
Showing at Sun-Ray on Go Skate Day, the film is just in time for the celebration of Kona Skatepark’s 40th anniversary. The world’s oldest operating skatepark is hosting a festival to ring in the achievement. Skateboarding legends Steve Van Doren, Tony Alva, Christian Hosoi, and Mike McGill will be in town to pay tribute to Kona. “They’re coming out because they like Kona,” says Johnson. “There’s nothing like Kona in the world.”
Jacksonville has played a crucial role in vert skating history. Through the years, Johnson has noticed a heightened commercialization of skateboarding. “Skating is totally recreational,” he says. “Associating economic viability in anything have to do with the business of skating is ugly. I don’t want anything to do with it.” Still, he celebrates skating’s recent glory in Jacksonville. “I think it’s cool that people want to try to increase the popularity of skating. That will mean more places for everyone to skate.”
This limited showing of Blood and Steel plays at Sun-Ray Cinema on Wednesday, June 21 at 10pm. Tickets available online and at the Sun-Ray box office.