Innovation has generally followed a pattern. First, a near freak discovery occurs, like Alan Gelfand doing a no-handed aerial. Second, somebody like Rodney Mullen sees potential in it and makes it an official, all terrain “trick.” Then finally, the trick is stylized, made cool, and adapted with power—up tables, over hydrants, onto rails and onwards by people like Natas and Gonz. In the case of switchstance, this process involved a host of the usual suspects—Mark Gonzales, Rodney Mullen, and Natas most definitely combined to put in the initial pieces of the puzzle during the late ‘80s. But it was Salman Agah—through the haze of tiny wheels and pressure flips of ’92 to ‘93—who truly brought the power, style, and charisma to make switchstance a functioning and bankable facet within the pastime. The following are the broad strokes of his sometimes-reluctant hand in becoming the “Sultan of Switch.”
This is the full interview text from Salman’s Pioneer Column in our September 2012 Issue.
Do you remember the first time you heard about the concept of switchstance?
Probably in the late ‘80s. Like ’88 or ’89. I saw a video. I can’t remember if it was Tommy Guerrero or Mark Gonzales. But one of them does a switch method air.
Was it Gonz at Savannah Slammah?
It might have been that. For some reason I feel like Tommy did something too though. I feel like it was over a railroad tire or something. Anyways, I just kind of have this black and white image of the video in my mind. The first thing that I really remember seeing of it. By ‘89/’90 I was already experimenting with going backwards.
Were you doing anything switch during the Ban This stuff with Jovontae (Turner)?
Not really. Real shortly after that though. One of the main inspirations for me really was Natas. We were skating at Brown Marble one day right up from EMB and he straight nollied up the bench. That to me was just mindblowing. From that moment forward I was really into the whole concept of nollies. I just started messing around with every variation.
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Some early San Jose curb and flat footage from Jake Rosenberg. Already mastering nollies. Circa 1991.