As the vast flood of names that grace the colorful under layer of seven-ply maple increases, a natural reaction is bound to occur amongst you, the skateboard consumer. The once clearly visible pecking order of best-to-worst has become complicated. The rules are twisted and gnarled. No longer is the bias toward street or vert, tech or burly, East Coast or West–skateboarding is now a worldwide community with strong forces of influence at work in every corner of many countries.
Danny Wainwright has been a member of the professional skateboarding community for some time, but not until recently has his long-overdue pro-model arrived. A well-traveled and well-rounded skater, Danny has dazzled all who have experienced his magic, yet he’s still managed to keep to himself. As a successful businessman, Danny and his partner Sid, who own a skate shop in their home town of Bristol, England, have become key figures in their local skate scene.
However, Mr. Wainwright is not one to blow his own trumpet. To get Danny in a comfortable interview situation was no easy task, but after many attempts Skin managed to come up with some of the goods.–M.M.
How did you get hooked up with an American sponsor?
I was getting flowed some boards from Jeremy Fox back when he was still doing Death Box. That was on and off–sometimes the boards wouldn’t come, sometimes they would. Shiner a British Distributor had this guy working for them called Peter Hawkins who used to sort out all the promotions, so he chatted to George Powell and also to Chris Gentry at Other Level. Then he came back to me and was like, “You can ride for either of these two.”
I chose Powell. That was eight years ago. But I wasn’t on the Powell team, I just used to get flowed boards by the distributor. I started to get more pictures in the mags, and people became more interest in me. The team manager at Powell around that time was Todd Hastings, he offered to bring me out to the States. I’d never been on a plane, or anything like that, so it was madness. The first time I went, my friend Gerhard came, too. We had so much fun. It was the first time I’d ever left England.
Your first pro model is coming out soon on Powell, how does that feel?
It feels a bit weird. I’m definitely stoked on it because it’s something I’ve wanted for a while. You think of turning pro when you’re a little kid, then, when you’re skating, you don’t really think about it at all. Next thing you know, it happens. It’s weird to have your own shop and sell your own board.
Let’s talk about 50-50 Danny’s shop, how did that all start?
There’re so many good skaters in Bristol, it has such a good scene, and there’re so many good places to skate. But all the other cities always seem to have one shop you can go to, too. All the kids go there and buy all their stuff–it’s where the kids meet up. They may want to check out the latest video–they can watch it at the shop. They’re not going to get kicked out of 50-50 by the owners. We want to keep Bristol’s scene growing and not sell crap stuff for stupid money. We want to give people a good choice.
How’s the shop working out?
It’s super good. I usually work there five or six days a week.
Has the shop helped the scene here?
Yeah, I think it has. Generally skaters can get people into skateboarding a lot easier, they can explain what it’s all about, whether it’s with shoes or decks; it’s all about skateboarding and not just selling. We’re all into it, after we shut the shop we all go skating. When kids come in they get the right info. If a big fat kid comes in, we don’t sell him a skinny board.
Around the time you turned pro, a lot of the British pros went to live in California. Was it conscious decision by you to stay here.
No, I haven’t really thought about it all that much. It’s all here: my home, my friends, my family. I know how everything works. In America there’s not reaally that much to do, and sometimes I feel a bit lost there. When I do go there it’s usually on my own or with the team on tour. You don’t really know the people you’re with and you can’t really relate with them. I like being at home.
I grew up in Stroud, which is about 45 minutes by train from Bristol. I never had a car, so I used to jump the train or get the bus. When I was a little kid I always wanted to live in Bristol, because it’s a nice city as far as England goes. It’s mellow, and there’s always stuff to do–lots of clubs and lots of music going on.
What do your parents think about how you’ve lived?
They’re well stoked. My parents have always been supportive of my skating. They ask for all the latest videos, they’ve got my board at the house–they’re well into it. It’s good that I’m doing productive stuff. I’ve got two older brothers, and my parents have had a few problems with them, so I think I’ve been a lot less hassle. I just keep myself to myself and skate.
How’s it been getting to see the world?
Super good: China, Japan, Hawaii, all over America. You learn a lot when you travel; you get to see other people and look at their situation. It makes you grateful for what you’ve got. Most people grow up without realizing how good they have it.
What’s average day be like for you?
I wake up about nine, hang out, watch TV, and drink some coffee ’til about ten, skate down to the shop, which is about ten minutes away, deal with some of the stuff there in the morning: checking that all the invoices are paid and that nothing needs to be ordered, hang out there until the afternoon–some days I stay there all day. If it’s good weather we go out and skate around two in the afternoon, when people usually start to come in. We just hit all the local spots. Sometimes I’ll go out–it depends on what’s going on. I live with my girlfriend Susan, so sometimes I’ll just chill and hang out with her.
Does the rain affect you?
It’s a big problem. Now there’re more parks, so we travel a lot more. Most cities have somewhere you can hit up. Every other night you could go someplace different, if you wanted to. We just get a car together and cruise out somewhere.
“If a big fat kid comes in the shop, we don’t sell him a skinny board.”