I am pretty sure that it was 1972 because I went with Scotty, a surfie from Sydney who also played half back in our rugby team, and Scotty was only at the school when when I was in Grade 10, which was 1972. Scotty took me to a movie called "Expression Session 2" at the State Theatre. It was pretty exciting turning up to the theatre and seeing Kombis and panel vans parked in the street and guys with long blond hair, Roman sandles and scruffy jeans. We didn't see them in my suburb. It was at the time when there was a debate about whether surfing was a sport or an art. According to the movie, instead of a competition, surfers
(The dude paddles out to conduct the Expression Session)
were paid to surf giant 3rd reef pipeline while they filmed it with four cameras (two in the water and two on land). They had gathered all the big name surfers of the time, who probably would have been there anyway, and, as the title suggests, they were expressing themselves on the waves. At giant pipeline "expressing yourself" probably involves expressing your survival instinct and maintaining some form of honour by not soiling your boardies in front of your peers, the crowd on the beach and the boys in the theatre who had probably never surfed anthying over 3'. The images of Expression Session 2 still stick in my mind today. Guys riding these huge green walls with a strong offshore breeze, big barrells and massive wipeouts. I still can't figure out how more people don't die riding those waves.
(The Dude lifts his baton to begin the first movement)
Following the success of the recent World Series Surfing Splinter Group competititions, the Old Farts Surf Co. (OFSC) decided to revive the expressions session concept as a way of showing the surfing world how to enjoy surfing without commercial hype and allowing oldfartsurfers to express themselves without the inhibitions imposed by a competition environment. OFSC Head Honcho, The Mexican, said "we gathered as many Old Farts Surf Co. stickered surfers as we could for the event and asked them to surf how they felt". "The results were amazing, we had two cameras shooting the action, one from the water and one on the beach, capturing surfers carving lines on waves expressing how they felt" said the Mex.
(The Dude paddles back out through the crashing waves, boards and bodies)
Canadian upstart, Moose, manned the camera on the beach and displayed her artistic eye to capture the magic being expressed by the surfers. According to Moose, "The pure artistry in the water inspired my photo taking". Talking about his first attempt at water photography,The Mex said he was "inspired by the survival instinct amidst crashing waves, boards and bodies". Even Spot, after an inspirational performance on the board, took to the water with Camera, overcoming his dibilitating fear of men in grey suits, to take an inspirational photo of The Mex late in the session.
(The Dude extracts pianisimo from his hollow wooden surfboard "The Craic")
We've decided to bring the photos to the readers, surfer by surfer. This way the mood and feelings being expressed by each individual can be truly presented as "their" exhibition. The surfer we have chosen for the first exhibition is one of the original oldfartsurfer,s mastersurfcraftsman and perenial crowd favourite, The Dude. The Dude has a music in his blood, his dad played the guitar, and some photos suggest a subliminal desire to conduct an orchestra. "We didn't realise how beneficial the Expression Session concept would be for the surfers" said The Mex. "We thought it would simply be a display for the surfing world that the surfers could be proud of, and didn't realise the journey of self discovery it took the performers on until we got the photos back and the surfers talked to us about them."
(The Dude lifting the baton for a crescendo as Spot paddles by)
When viewing the photos, The Dude said "that's when I realised I had been denying my desire to conduct an orchestra and now I've done it in the ocean". Other surfers discovered things about themselves, Macho to be a Yogi, The Mexican to seek the essence of nothing and Spot discovered he could surf. Stay tuned as their expressions willbe presented soon.
(The Dude, baton down, focusing on the bar ahead)
(The Dude eases the Craic through a movement while Macho watches in awe)
(The Dude in the moment where he lowers the baton at the finale, just before the applause erupts.)
(The Dude, paddling back for an encore)
As to the debate whether surfing is art or a sport, in 1972, I think I just thought it was something you did because you loved doing it, like climbing a mountain, reading a book or growing roses.