Birds of Palais

Who ever thought skateboarding would come this far? Not even a road-weary rogue's gallery of action sports athletes and personalities from across the globe could escape the magic of Paris on Saturday night for the mega-spectacle that was the Tony Hawk Show and the 40th birthday party for the Quiksilver brand. From the Hawk on down to the decidedly non-spectacle-prone Danny Garcia, every person in attendance at the Grand Palais was in agreement: They had never seen anything like this before.

It was an almost dreamlike atmosphere inside the 775,000 square foot glass-ceilinged palace, with 20-foot tall posters of Tony and friends illuminated by multicolored spotlights dangling over tens of thousands of wine-drinking, cigarette-smoking Frenchmen. The vert ramp, billed as the biggest in European history, was flanked by double DJ setups and covered with art from French man-of-the-hour artist Andre, whose pink hues seemed to punctuate the atmosphere perfectly in that macho/froufrou way only the French can muster.

During the day, a street course built to emulate some of Paris' landmark spots had seen Bastien Salabanzi, Eero Antilla, and Chris Pfanner take the top three and the split of a 20,000 Euro prize, but it was clearly Tony Hawk whom the people had come to see, with thousands lining up more than an hour early despite the threat of rain just in the hopes of being able to bumrush a good spot inside the venue.

When Parisian DJ and all-around mayor-type Busy P dropped the first note perfectly synched to a glowing Tony Hawk dropping in, it was all over and the place went bananas. Tony's whole crew murdered it with Sergie Ventura, Kevin Staab, Sandro Dias, Jesse Fritsch, Jean Postec and Andy Mac delivering that Barnum & Bailey craze of double and triple combos, board handoffs and over/unders, but it was the big dog and the little lady who stole the show. First Tony brought the house down by landing his first 900 in almost a decade after promising to try to hit one in front of the massive wall of press at the previous day's news conference. Then Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins stuck the first female McTwist, with time running out after bailing at least ten prior attempts and having the added pressure of Tony personally stepping off the ramp to egg her and the crowd on. The crowd surged when she hit it, nearly pushing through the security barrier and whipping the building into a frenzy.

With the room cleared, those with the right wristband moved behind the massive curtain into the VIP section, where a four-hour party headlined by Mix Master Mike, featuring burlesque dancers and acrobatic bartenders, brought things to a finish like only Paris can. Skate, snow and surf legends brushed arms with supermodels, Parisian shred scenesters, and seemingly unsupervised French children who were unfazed by the debauchery around them, still hoping to catch autographs long after anyone was in any shape to give one. Perhaps only in French can one properly emphasize the insanity that ensued: C'est magnifique!