It’s by a chance meeting in the subway that the first French streetgolf contest was created.
Circa spring 2005 in Paris. After an urbangolf session around the Eiffel Tower with my teammates. Over the noise of the crowded hallway of the Trocadero subway station, I noticed someone vying for my attention.
- Unknown Person: Hey! Are you the guys who play golf in the streets … the Nineteen something?
- Me: Yeah, Le 19eme Trou (The 19th Hole). What gave us away?
- Unknown Person: I think I saw you on TV … and you have golf clubs. Anyway, you don’t have the look of classic golfers.
- Me: Hmmm, good point.
(...) This guy is cool and uber motivated. We’re having a nice talk. I suggest he join us for one of our upcoming streetgolf session, but he doesn’t live in Paris.
- Me: By the way, I’m Sköyp and these are my friends. What’s your name?
- Unknown Person: I’m Theo Banz!
We exchange phone numbers and Myspace profiles (Yes, MySpace. It’s 2005.) and we left Theo. I had no idea the impact that this simple meeting would have on my future.
November 2005, Theo is back in Paris and this time with his team, The Duffers Street League for an urbangolf session. We chose the construction site of a future park in the Stalingrad district of Paris as our playground so we wouldn’t break anyone’s window with the real golf balls we were playing with. It’s freaking cold outside, but we have a ghettoblaster, good music, an amazing location, lots of potential targets to choose from, and most importantly we have new, but already good friends to play with. By the end of the session, Theo is so hyped about urbangolf he dubs it baddass and vows to organize an event in Rennes (a city on the west side France). We would definitely have to go and see what this guy was capable of.
September 23rd 2006 in Paris, 8am. It’s time to wake up. This is The Day. Theo and his new team, The Duffers Street League, did it! This is the first offgolf competition in France - The Rennes Pro Tour Open Master Classic Series Challenge.
Post huge party hang-over mode. Almost sleepless. Time to go. Grab our stuff… clubs, balls. Jump in the car, breakfast on the dash. Direction Brittany!
The competition was set to start at 12pm. The organizers and other players expected us by then, but we arrive just around 2pm. The entire event is delayed because of us. Probably not the best first impression, but it seems like nobody cares. First glimpse of the chill spirit that is the heart of offgolf. We regret being late even more when we receive the road-book of the course and we see that there are a grand total of 21 holes located throughout the city (First competition, already a roadbook!). It’s clear that it’s going to be a long day. The event is so much fun that our exhaustion is quickly forgotten. At this first event the level of the players is varied and we exchange good advice on how to play. I’m floored. What fantastic fun!
First competition, first after contest party. It’s around midnight in a little bar on a street known to the locals as Rue de la Soif (Street of Thirst) and apparently time for me to be blown away a second time… by Stand High Patrol. Little do I know that this band would stick with us like a fat girl to cake from then on.
1am. Just before the bonus hole and the prize ceremony. For some unknown reason, we end up being kicked out of the bar. Not just us, but all the fine patrons. That place isn’t big enough to contain our turn up anyway. More than 100 street golfers stuffed into a little space smoking, drinking … nah. Not a problem for Theo and his team. They manage to get everyone to follow them to an underground parking lot in downtown Rennes for the bonus hole and award ceremony - a much more offgolfer friendly venue. Way to think on your feet, Theo! On the way to the parking lot, a police car pulled up nearby. A guy opened the door and called out for one of us to come over. What was this about? Our guy comes back without handcuffs and with a bunch of balls we had shot throughout the day. The police had found them everywhere along the course and figured they were ours. Cool cops.
Time for the bonus hole - 5 putting shots. Seems easy, but we didn’t realize that the bonus would be after the party… after the beers etc. What a perfect opportunity for our new player to prove himself.
- Me: Mathieu, it's your turn, show us what you got!
- Mathieu: Nice... gulp!
Mathieu became an official member of our team that night. Believe it or not, he put all 5 shots straight in the hole.
That’s how Le 19ème Trou won 1st place at the 1st offgolf contest in France.
Road-book, original targets, after contest party, funny name for the competition as a nod to the classic golf. GOOD SPIRIT. This first event established the blueprint for organizing contests that we continue to apply today. It's important for me to give back to Caesar what is due to Caesar. Theo Banz’s events always have such a good spirit that you almost forget to keep score … is it so important? THIS is free golf.
Interview of a "dubadub muskateer"
- 19NEWS mag: So, Theo. I’ve known you for more than 10 years, but can you introduce yourself to our readers?
-Theo Banz: My name is Theo Banz. I’m from Rennes in Brittany. I’m 31 and like to have fun. I studied fashion and graphic design, but by the time I graduated my music project was developed enough to earn a living. This project involves a dub music sound system called Stand High Patrol and I’m still heavily involved with it today. I also have electronic music side projects.
- 19NEWS mag: Pupa Jim (singer/composer), Mac Gyver (operator), and Rootystep (selecta) … Kings of dubadub?
- Theo Banz: Stand High Patrol has its own way of making dub. We put different influnces into it so our style is completely different than other dub styles. We call it Dubadub. The name was actually given to us by a singer called Tena Stellin when he was listening to an instrumental we recorded. Rubadub is a style of flow in reggae and we asked him to try it, but he said our instrumentals weren’t made for rubadub. It’s dubadub!
- 19NEWS mag: You’re also implicated in Offgolf with one of the very 1st teams in France. You’ve even been involved in event organizing. Tell us more. Should we get our clubs ready for an upcoming event?
- Theo Banz: I began playing golf in the street with a friend of mine who had old clubs in Nimes in the summer of 2004. I did it just for the fun of it. I don’t come from golf culture at all. It’s a rich people’s sport, you know? I’m more at home with skate or surf culture. In Nimes, the nightlife ambiance was completely dead. Rather than watch TV like everyone else, I was determined to make the things I wanted happen. When I moved back to my hometown of Rennes, I motivated my friends to play streetgolf. We were all beginners, but we had fun hanging out in a group in the streets after the bars closed. It was more of a Jackass hobby than a real sport and that’s why we liked it. Later, I organized 3 big contests in Rennes in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with players from all over France. Since, I’ve put together smaller contests and initiations for teenagers with local community centers.
I stopped organizing big events because around 2010 teams from different cities joined together and created a national ranking system. They began touring around to cities across France with a final annual contest in Paris. At first I liked the idea, but when I saw that people were very serious about the rules and encouraged a competitive spirit I stopped liking it. I had always gone to the contests in Paris to play with friends in a relaxed way and I have years of good memories, but I didn’t recognize anything of what I liked from those early events. Some of these teams wore polos all in the same color with their team name on them, very strictly kept score and were focused on winning. Some others had clubs, sunglasses and shoelaces all matching in color and would take hours to shoot because they were more concerned with taking photos and showing off their hip style. I understand that establishing rules is necessary when a sport gets big and that players of offgolf come from different ways of life, but… Instead of organizing another contest and being more selective about the teams I invited, I just quit the big organization.
- 19NEWS mag: How is it possible that Stand High has never made a song about Offgolf? That’s my dream, you know?!
-Theo Banz: Haha! Yeah, maybe one day. Pupa Jim writes the lyrics and most of the time he stays on conscience themes like ecology, injustice, the way of life or the lyrics are related to sound system parties.
- 19NEWS mag: Jazzy, trumpet, Hip-Hop... the last album "A Matter Of Scale" wowed me. I have the feeling that I rediscovered your band. Can you tell us more about it?
-Theo Banz: As I said, our style of dub is influenced by styles of music other than reggae. We put some jazz into this album because we had just listened to jazz albums before we recorded it. The trumpet comes from a friend of mine. For a long time we had digital trumpet in our tracks so for this album I asked him to replay the notes with his trumpet, but he did it even better. He freestyled, so it was much more jazzy that way. Now we invite him on stage with us most of the time to freestyle.
- 19NEWS mag: What’s coming next for you, Stand High and your other projects?
-Theo Banz: About Stand High Patrol, we’re going to Scotland with our friends from Mungo’s Hifi soon. Then we have a tour in France with our sound system. This means that we’re going to install our big stacks of speaker boxes and play on it with guests. We’ll also be presenting a visual show with mapping animation drawn by Kazy, the artist who did all of our vinyl artwork. About my side projects, there’s Jeanville … I’m perfecting a live machine act involving acid ghetto techno. I’m also launching a new record label called Eddy Larkin. The first release is dedicated to Panach, a young French artist that makes ambient bass music.