Skateboarding is the home of one of the strangest dichotomies. On the one hand, it’s very much about the progression; pushing yourself to do more, getting more creative, and having fun. On the other hand, it’s very much about style, and making things look natural, smooth, and cohesive.
These two disciplines don’t necessarily go hand and hand, which makes this an extremely delicate line to walk. One more flip and its wack. Try and get that extra little turn out of the spin, and you’re doing too much. A poorly selected ender, and the whole part is trash.
It’s an extremely delicate dance to get right. Making the people that do it well stand out. With such stylish approach, tricks don’t necessarily have to be technical. What matters is how it’s done. We all saw that amazing Gino Iannucci footage that blessed everyone’s timeline a couple weeks ago. The backside 180 in his line was the supreme definition of style. When it comes to style, it’s not about the shock value. It’s about aesthetics.
It’s arguable that the stylish ones aren’t the people progressing skateboarding. As much as it pains me to say this, it seems to be the people hucking triple flips down stairs, and double flipping out of tailslides, it’s THOSE people who push skateboarding’s limits.
Historically, things have to get a little weird for things to come back to “normal”, in the process adding a new standard for what is possible. For instance, the second Mark Gonzales front 180 50-50’d a handrail, the common sense of what was possible completely changed. It was groundbreaking for skateboarding, and allowed future skaters like Foundation’s Cole Wilson to push what can be done on rails even further.
Alright, so this grind-sex change out thing has gotten slightly out of hand. While there are some people like Jamie”The Big Pinch” Foy and Pizza Skateboard’s Michael Pulizzi using the trick to push skating and create new tricks, as a whole the sub-genre of no-comply/sex change kids has become entirely contrived. In excess, the “trendy tricks” devalue creativity, which is a large part of what makes good skateboarding…good skateboarding.
Devine Calloway’s pop shuv nosegrind-sex change out from the latest Primitive video “Opal” is a prime example of making the trick LOOK good. Devine’s sex change was so stylish, so clean, so graceful, and most importantly; so subtle. As small as it was it gave me a larger perspective on the issue. Skateboarding is about having fun and doing what you want, but if everyone and their aunt is doing it in hopes that they’ll look cool, something has to change. For example, a hot thing in skateboarding is the “Instagram shuffle”. For those unfamiliar to this, go on the explore page and search “Skateboarding”. You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
We’re at a point now where certain tricks can be viewed as “off limits”. A doubleflip has the potential to look good, i.e. Billy Marks or Gonzs’ from “Video Days” but done “wrong” and you’re thrown into a category of guys who do weird tricks. It takes a lot make things look, good.
But ultimately this doesn’t even matter. Someone like Daewon Song is one of the greatest of all time and is the very definition of unconventional. He is living proof you can have your cake and eat it too. He continually evolves what’s possible, and does it in a way that is so unique and visually appealing, it’s indisputably amazing. It’s stylish, it’s creative. It’s skateboarding.
Skateboarding NEEDS both the crazy technical, as well as stylish taste maker. It’s a symbiotic relationship that requires both creativity, and a healthy dose of self-control. But, both are needed.