Some cool words from former Kingpin ed Niall Neeson.
What does skateboarding mean?
You will have doubtless asked yourself the same question at some point in the middle of one of those flinching skateboarding daydreams you’ve been having. It’s alright- we all have them.
What is this skating lark all about, exactly?
How can just standing sideways on the most simple of man’s transportative inventions come to represent so much? And it does represent much:
It can be argued that right now, today, skateboarding has become the most culturally influential performance art in history. And yet even that attempt to crystallise the ethereal nature of skate culture contains within it a load of turn- offs for other skateboarders.
Performance art? Come on. It’s just an exciting portal to innocence.
But if you accept that reality (and it is a reality), then how can it come to dominate every aspect of our lives, the way we look at the world around us, and how can it have changed the worlds of fashion, art, music, design, sport, TV, architecture- and (say it quietly) culture- forever?
Which it has, by anybody’s reading.
There are two really remarkable things about skating. The activity itself, and the people who are drawn into her orbit.
Skateboarding itself is so open, simple to appreciate, freedom- giving and essentially cool that there is no mystery in why it intoxicates; only the extent to which it does is hidden from Everybody Else.
And then the people: because it is so democratic and unbridled, skating is like a kitchen knife through the frosted sponge cake of society, plunging through tiers, layers and tastes. You meet all kinds of people through skating, and we all have a single bashful, insightful passion in common.
So these two things every skater knows: it feels untouchable and it attracts a lot of varied people. After that nothing is agreed.
And here’s why: skateboarding means different things to different people, and all those views overlap all the time.
For some of us, it is about escape; for others it is about belonging.
For some it is real life; to other skaters, it is the antidote to real life.
For some it is the only real joy; for some it is a black beast which is never sated.
For some skateboarding means transport; for others it only leaves the trunk at the park gates.
For some it is the definitive act of post- modern social comment; for others it is competition for the looks and the lifestyle.
For some it is unspeakably glamorous, what Kerouac would surely have been; for others, skating is slightly embarrassing, a secret shame.
For some, it is the totality of their chance to express their difference from the next guy; for a few it is but one manifestation of their total otherness.
Because here’s the thing about skateboarding: all of it is real, and none of it. If that sounds elliptical look at it this way:
Nobody owns skateboarding and so we see in it a reflection of what we choose to, like the smile on a dog.
The openness to interpretation explains is how it can be tired and energised, commercial and underground, better than ever and worse than ever, artistic and athletic all at once.
It’s up to you what you want to see reflected in it; like that smiling dog- there if you want to see it, and not, if you don’t.
Ultimately with skateboarding, the activity itself is the only absolute truth.
The rest is as open to interpretation as there are skaters to interpret it