WARNING: THE WORD ROLLERBLADE, ROLLERBLADES AND ROLLERBLADER ARE USED A LOT IN THIS...
I recently stumbled across a video of Jason Ellis ranting about “aggressive inline skating” and as a recovering member of the laboriously defensive aggressive inline cult I feel like he had some great things to say beneath the extreme radio persona. It got me thinking that maybe it was time to say some things that rollerbladers know deep down but don’t want to admit:
1. The pitch was never good from the start
Aggressive inline skating was (and still is) imitating skateboarding on dryland ice skates. We were ashamed of what we were, so we tried to segregate ourselves. It’s a very bad pitch from a “let’s create a sport” perspective. I think rollerbladers often forget that their closest relative is ice skating and not skateboarding. Mixing those two sounds like a disaster (it was and still is.)
2. Rollerblading is allergic to originality
We’ll skate your parks, your spots, we’ll do tricks like you, we’ll make our videos like yours, we’ll dress like you, follow all your trends and we’ll even try and make our skates look like your shoes... Also... can you give us respect? No? (cue intense rollerblader defense mechanism.)
3. Rollerbladers are huge fans of skateboarding(but it’s never the other way around
Rollerbladers will be in the know on many of the skaters, styles, videos and trends in skateboarding. But you don’t see any skateboarders rollerblading or following rollerblading? Hmmm.... that’s weird I wonder why?
4. Rollerbladers are ashamed of rollerblading
Dress up as hip as you want, jump the biggest gap and grab your boots however you want... Get a skull tattoo. Say shit like “the skateboarders in my town totally respect rollerblading...” Be super macho and shit... Nothing will ever hide a very simple fact: dude you’re rollerblading and so is the guy on the beach and so is the speed skater and so is that guy playing roller hockey. “But that’s not what I do!” Yes. Yes it is. It’s all rollerblading.
5. Rollerblades enhance awkwardness (just like ice skates do
Rollerblades are easy to make look bad, hard to make look good and easy to make look easy. A recipe for comedy, confusion and extreme dork-ness. Does rollerblading embrace this and own it? No. We try and hide it with our cool guy relaxed poses and shit.
6. The things that make rollerblading unique are pushed aside(aka Rollerbladers dislike anything that looks like rollerblading
Rollerblades can go fucking fast, turn on a dime and be incredibly complex and unique from a style/human movement perspective (just watch a freestyle slalom video, or the forest rollerblading video, or Greg Mirzoyan - Bombing down the salt mine in Poland...) But “don’t do that lame shit man.” Make sure and grab your boots, learn all the grindy foot positions, ride really small wheels so your boots look like shoes and make sure to hide anything too rollerblading-y looking... Especially actual skating... we’re trying to get into the big boys club here so don’t do that rollerblading shit. We’re like skateboarding... but on like rollerblades you know?
7. Rollerblading does not influence anything
Has rollerblading ever influenced culture, tricks, or styles of other sports? How many rollerblading “mecca” parks are out there? ( we’ll totally skate your homemade parks and spots though) Do we have any cultural reference points beyond “Brink!”, Airborne, the 90’s and the Human Giant skit? What does your dad think when I say rollerblading? Will rollerblading be linked to an artistic or musical movement? Probably not... but we’ll gladly piggy back a few years too late on something that’s already been done.
8. "Aggressive inline skating” inventors, pioneers and godfathers have mostly jumped ship
If “aggressive inline” was so important why does almost everyone who did it on a “pro” level in the 90’s not do it anymore? Not much of a “culture” to be found if the pioneers don’t even do it anymore eh? There are still a few people carrying the entire weight of aggressive skating on their shoulders (just in case we were all wrong and the world all really wants to rollerblade again... which they don’t want to... believe me when I say THEY DON’T WANT TO).
9. Aggressive inline skating will never “blow up” or “come back”
There will always be a small dedicated group doing what they love and delusional that maybe one day it will break into the mainstream. Rollerblading has had this conversation for over a decade (So much so that “_____ will save rollerblading” has become a meme.) I’m sure sky surfing and wakeboarding feel the same. “No seriously dude once people see this section it’s going to bring _______ back to the public”... I’ve been that guy saying that before. Nobody cares. Sorry.
10. Rollerblades are not the end point (the problem with rollerblades is rollerblades)
One just has to look at the evolution of skiing to realize maybe rollerblades aren’t the best way to do what we’re trying to do here. Maybe we need to rethink this whole wheels on feet thing? Maybe we were wrong all along about this whole rollerblading thing... and the criticisms were actually opportunities to look at wheely shoe boot thingies from a new perspective.
PS - Skateboards work a lot better in bowls and pools than rollerblades do. Sorry guys. SOMEBODY had to say it.