|August 19, 1999|
Those of you who weren't in Bala on the August 6th weekend missed out on a real treat as Wakestock '99 shuffled into town in baggy-as jeans. That's 'Wake' as in 'wakeboarding' and 'stock' as in 'we couldn't think of anything original on our own so we'll try to get by on the pop-cultural hipness of a Woodstock reference'. It was billed as one of wakeboarding's premier events attracting pros from across Canada, the U.S. and even Australia. So I figured I'd better stop by to see what the sport was all about.
For the uninitiated wakeboarding is the aquatic version of skateboarding where gnarly surf-punk skate dudes strap a malnourished surf board to their feet and do really cool flips and spins by launching themselves off the wake of their tow-boat. And not just ANY boat, either. A real wakeboarder needs a specially designed wakeboarding boat that costs more than the average house north of Barrie and when properly trimmed out produces a five foot high wake guaranteed to rip most nearby docks off their moorings. The maneuvers these guys manage are incredible but since I'm not familiar with the sport and didn't have a slow-motion replay to break the move down they all looked pretty similar to me. Luckily there was an announcer who could point out the differences in the moves: "There's a Snowball... a Speedball... whoa a Pineapple!!" Now all I have to do is find out what a Snowball is and I'll know if I should be impressed or not. Note to organizers - how about explaining what the hipster terminology means next time? And while you're at it, what three things make any show look interesting and professional? Pacing pacing pacing...
With the heavy crossover between skateboarders and wakeboarders the fashions and accessories get pretty predictable. For the guys it's bleached out Bart Simpson hair, baggy crotch-at-the-knees hipster-doofus shorts, wakeboard manufacturer T-shirt (optional, of course - you wanna show off those abs and nipple piercings, right?), pukka necklaces, lots of bracelets and the aforementioned multiple piercings. Think Huck Finn after a few joints and you've got the right idea. For the gals, teeny tiny bikinis are apparently back in style because there was newfound cleavage as far as the eye could see - from sheepish gals who didn't seem too sure what to do about it (but who somehow saw fit to wear some very revealing swimwear, nonetheless) to very self-assured gals who knew EXACTLY what doors these babies were going to open. Everywhere you looked there were wonderful little parcels of fun bobbing and jiggling in their snug little hammocks. Some truly astounding hardware (or is that software?). I thought that they were all there for the Wakestock '99 Bikini Contest. But it turned out I was wrong.
No wakeboard show would be complete without a surfer dude-ette bikini contest. It kicked off at 4:30 and while I was dying to see how some of the gals that I'd seen circulating through the crowd fared in the competition I got no such opportunity. The contestants turned out to be an entirely different crowd altogether: three gals who HAD to be strippers (I'm assuming this from their hip-grinding, tongue-waggling, suit bottom-wedgied-up-between-the-cheeks stage entrance), three gals who must have been pushed into competing by insecure boyfriends and who seemed noticeably uncomfortable up there with the strippers, and five or six hyper-extroverted gals who my friends and I used to politely refer to as 'sport models'. And before you pounce on me for questioning the virtue of bikini bimbettes may I present People's Exhibit #1 - the Playmate Data Sheet-style contestant questionairre that's read to the audience as each gal takes the stage. When your nickname is 'jackhammer', 'thumper' or 'swallows' your friends probably don't describe you as demure. When your idea of the perfect date involves '10 hockey players and an all-night party', no one is going to accuse you of being shy. And when the word that best describes you is 'hardcore' ... well... I think we can safely say that the word 'classy' is rarely a modifier of 'bikini babe'. Maybe it's just me but I'd stuck around for a bikini contest, not a lakeside version of The Howard Stern Show. I didn't wait to see who won but I'm glad to know that one of those gals walked away with $500. Finishing schools are expensive.
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