Self Storage: Dan Cates

Hailing from the town of Ware in Hertfordshire, Dan Cates has been firmly in the UK skateboarding trenches since the 1980s. Dan rose to prominence through the 1990s where he became a fixture of the grassroots events circuit, before joining the emerging Death Skateboards crew towards the end of the decade in order to become to company’s first pro.

Since then, Dan has taken his proverbial bucket list and pretty much smashed his way through the thing. From full-length video parts, magazine covers, interviews, national TV appearances, big time judging gigs, and everything else you could probably think of, Dan has done the lot, and he’s got the tales – and paraphernalia - to prove it.

For our second Self Storage feature, we tasked Dan with delving into his personal stash and digging out 12 of his most prized skate related possessions from over the years. It goes without saying that he didn’t disappoint…

The Sweet Sixteen.

Simon Woodstock had this board hand made by a small wood shop somewhere in Texas. How he managed to track down someone that was actually able to press a skateboard this wide is a feat in itself, as any skateboard manufacturer would tell you. This beasts vital statistics are 40” long by a whopping 28” wide, weighing in at over 10kg when it’s fully set up, it has double kick and concave.

Anyway, when Simon was finally done with his 16 wheeled endeavours, he decided that I should be the one to ‘carry the torch’, and with the generous help of Steve Van Doren and the Vans shipping department (sometimes I really wish I still rode for Vans!) the Sweet Sixteen arrived in Margate with its custom made counterpart, the quad pole jam, safe and sound.

Two Peas in a Pod.

Rare as rocking horse shit!

The mythical Ian ‘Davross’ Scudd's pro model by Rip Stick is basically the stuff of UK skateboarding folklore. The tale of him not getting paid any royalties, why it was produced as a budget complete and who on God’s green Earth did that graphic? The whole story is fascinating. This one was gifted to me by Ginger Steve and has only ever been ridden once by Davross himself!

The Chinese budget complete version of a Brand-X Sean Goff (one of my all time favourite graphics) is actually an eBay find, but what makes it special is the fact that Sean knew I wanted one and he found it and gave me the heads-up.

Horsey’s first pro board.

From painfully shy teenager in a borrowed pair of shorts and a Mambo t-shirt, to pesky house mate, to pro skateboarder with a shoe on Supra, to proud father and soon to be Margate transplant, Scott 'Horsey' Walker has done it all. One of Deaths best ever graphics, the framed Todd Bratrud print takes pride of place above the sideboard. And yes, that is Vicky Blows with the hobbyhorse.

The Holy Trinity.

NOS Vision Gonz, SMA Julien Stranger, and G&S Neil Blender.

I have a lot of skateboards that I’ve collected over the years, but these three are all you really need to know about. Gotta roll with the best.

A note From The Phelper.

I was always a big fan of Jake Phelps. I was lucky enough to judge his bowl jam at the House of Vans in 2018 and upon my arrival, I got taken into the office and given this sheet by Rob Smith. Half laughing in wonderment, we both scanned the crumpled sheet for what appeared to be the scrawling of a mad man. Jake had pre-written guidelines for the best trick event, including a cash value next to certain tricks i.e. ‘Dark drop – 50’, ‘Make Marty’s Madness – 125’, and ‘Back nose bleeze reverse – 100’

I’m not really sure who he thought was going to turn up that night, but needless to say, while the jam was really good, not one of the tricks on Jake’s sheet actually went down.

“Dear demi-brained scum”.

This note truly is a thing of beauty, and far from being in some way ashamed of it, on the contrary, it makes me very proud. Addressed to the whole team, (I think there was 17 of us if memory serves) it begins: “Dear demi-brained scum” and only gets better from there. It was slipped under my hotel room door after a late and chaotic night of football in the corridor and God knows what else in the small hours during the 2008 Death Big Push. I felt that the poor sod in the room next door that had penned this literary masterpiece was well with in their rights to complain, but somehow I wish that the letter wasn’t quite so accurate in places. In particular the part about “low paid lives”.

Oh well.

Neil Blender Rocking Dog t-shirt.

I saw a kid wearing this t-shirt at a skatepark in Bristol in 1997 and managed to successfully trade him a tenner and the shirt off my own back for it.

It’s three sizes too small for me, but like any self respecting Neil Blender fan, I had to have it.

Geoff’s Sonic Youth tape.

I went to California in 2001 with a friend who was doing some video stuff for Flip at the time. We went to the ASR trade show and got directions to the Mount Baldy pipe from Remy Stratton. That night we stopped off at Rowley’s house on our way home, and I told him of our plan to hit Baldy the next day. He disappeared for a bit and when he returned he handed me this tape with instructions not to play it until we were nearing the pipe. Sure enough, we put it in the tape deck as we drove up to Baldy and what greeted our ears was not just Sonic Youth, but most of the Streets On Fire soundtrack, getting us juiced up for our English version of a full blown Salba pipe assault. Geoff, it did the trick.

Approved Skate Zone.

Nothing makes you feel more accepted by your peers than when a bonafide English street skating pioneer, namely Don Brider, sends you a batch of your own personal stickers, completely out of the blue. Thanks Donz.

G.O.A.T Credentials.

I’m not entirely sure which year this is from, nor how I ended up with Howard Cooke’s pass in the first place, but I do know that if you’re going to scam into the ASR tradeshow under an assumed name, it may as well be the G.O.A.T’s.

A Stitch in Time.

My mother is really talented at many crafts. Needle point, embroidery, cross-stitch, crochet, knitting, etc. She made this for my 17th birthday from a 1970s cross-stitch pattern she’d stumbled across by chance in a dusty old sewing shop.

Piss Drunx pin badge from Ali Boulala.

My favourite memory of Ali Boulala is from Munster in the late 90s. Back then, contests were still a lot of fun and skaters would literally be up all night going from room to room in the hotel, usually resulting in some kind of mayhem. This particular night was no exception, and Boulala and myself ended up in some American girls room at about 3am, shouting some kind of drunken abuse down at Heath Kirchart from their 5th storey window. I think at one point a failed attempt was also made to throw the TV out of said window. Boulala was running around their room going crazy and making so much noise that both Chet Thomas (in the room next door) and Kris Markovich (the floor below) knocked at the door, bleary eyed, threatening to kill Ali if he didn’t shut up.

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