"From the very first time I met this powerhouse Norseman in an unpretentious, multinational Barcelona skate session many years ago, Gabbe had something very genuine about him, an aura untamed and yet warmhearted. Born a viking, grown up in a Swedish hippie commune in the middle of the northern woods, this turned out to be pretty self-evident when I got to know him a bit better, bumping into him visiting mutual friends or travelling Europe along with him through mutual sponsors.
El Gabeeb is a man of many names and of many talents. Obviously he skates in a style only few others can touch, yet also he's a hell of a gymnast, photographer, yogi, hairdresser, builder and kills it at pretty much whatever else you could think of. He's a renaissance man. So not only for that reason, it didn't come as miracle, when Gabriel Engelke, the little archangel of the annunciation and mercy, stepped down sometime in spring, to let the world know, a miniramp was to be built upon the land of his forefathers, to the day 30 years counting from his advent, and all folk shall gather and join in on the good times to be had!
What he didn't mention was, that he had used up all his sponsor's travel budget for the year in order to pay for that sick, lime-colored, two extensions featuring little gem, but it is a nice fact anyhow.
So, in late in June Gabbe's family and a good share of his multinational friends set out from all over the place, following a star or whatnot, to make their way to a distant barn and a bit somewhere between Oslo and Karlstad. My way led through Oslo airport, where I met a few fellow invitees, and altogether we embarked a rental towards the Swedish border. In less then five minutes we had left 99% of all signs of civilisation behind and entered the land of woods and lakes. – No clue if arté's re-run of David Lynch's classic suspense series “Twin Peaks”, that had been on TV the weeks prior, had had an effect on us, but come our first truck stop break, we all felt like thrown right in there: Low clouds, lingering on hillsides, myst in the trees, hovering over lakes, block houses, and quirky characters in the diner we got food at; all adding up to an intangible eery feeling.
A fucking amazing cake served as an awakening slap to the face, and we drove on, passing by fantastic views and dream landscapes, finally reaching a tenderly drawn sign on the side of the road, reading “Birthday Party” in ornamental calligraphy flanked by equally fond skateboard illustrations. We had arrived.
Gabeeb's dad's farmyard is of the typical skandi type: red wooden houses scattered on green grass, tucked in mossy pinewoods. Around the time Gabriel came into this world up to 200 people shared this place along with their dreams of a better world, their lives, their loves. On our way onto the premisses we pass by many familiar faces, but the first two things that really catch our eyes are the lime-green mini and fully equipped stage right across it. Looking closer, we also see a proper fire place a few feet from the ramp, dug into the hill side by the woods. Together with the privy, these places should hold the main stage for the days to come.
The man himself, friend Beemo, plus most of the Antiz crew were already sessioning the ramp, however, when we join in, drizzle starts, so we turn to organizing beer for the night. Next store half an hour's drive off; off we go. Upon arrival the parking lot looks suspiciously empty, and yes: it's a holiday and considering Sweden's ultra strict alcohol disposal policy that means: we're shit out of luck; at least for today. Not the brightest prospects if your facing a night in a tent with hundreds of people partying (possibly drunk of their face) next to you! On the way back proper rain sets in and by the time we reach the farm, everyone is nestled into one of the barns drinking private beers, chatting. Luckily the Finish crew brought a trunk full of cans from the ferry and is in big-spender mode. Kippis, homies! It also helped, one of Gabbe's hobo friends (a French one; coincidence?) has this spleen to always go Robin Hood in duty-free markets, pick-pocketing the rich to give to fellow hobos… Yeah and lastly, later that night, by the fire, this pretty drunk, German-language-only, mid 50's couple showed up. No clue how they fit in there, but they had imported a bunch of mini kegs in their camper van, an were now happily serving everyone willing to engage in a conversation. – By the way, did you know, you could bring in 92 litres of beer per person…?!
Yeah, ye ole campfire! Crazy what it brings out in people! Even more so at a hippie-fest such as Gabeeb's birthday. Rain or shine, the later the day, the more people gathered around the crackling heat; gazing away or getting meditational on the bongos. One going completely hippie was Hugo, who, when not shredding the ramp, could be seen poncho clad, rocking flowers in his hair and jamming away on the drums till the wee hours, driving everyone in their tents trying to get some sleep mental. – Well, actually not everyone, since Hugo really went hippie all the way, free love included!
Besides drumming, the musical highlight was the Neil Young plus cover band of hippies from Gabeeb's dad's generation, playing all the right tunes the right way. Epic'ly groovy guys! Noteworthy mention to the Norwegian rock band that played the next night, delivering a sick live-gig, and the freestyle/beatbox duo that went off, too! The more I think about it, all these dudes fucking smashed it. Amazing!
One thing that was amazing in a drastically less exiting way, was the onslaught of mosquitos by late afternoon each day. Completely insane! No clue how locals deal with it, the only slightly feasibly option being applying tons of Scandinavian Summer, a mosquito repellant substance resembling a cross between shoe polish and burnt tires in texture and smell. But despite only helping against the pesky pest to some degree, this stuff was so strong, no wash in the near-by crystal clear lake could take the stench away. In fact, that shit stayed for days upon return, hot showers etc. to no avail; no clue how people managed to sit next to me on the plane back home.
So yeah, what's left to say? Thanks Gabbe, for this wonderful weekend. Re-union in 30 years?!?"
Words by Jan Kliewer
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