words: b. anderson • photos: a. luke • j. anderson
When many of us started rollerblading it was huge. It was on TV and INLINE, Inline Skater, Box and Daily Bread were all available at your neighborhood bookstore. Senate shirts were even on the racks at Hot Topic and Pac Sun. Most of us were young and not many people understood what we were doing or why we dressed the way we did. We were always associated with the X-games or asked if we could backflip.
Since 1997 – the year I started blading – things have changed dramatically not only for our industry and sport but also what it is like to be a BLADER. Our industry, what was once on its way to becoming mainstream, has now grown/withered/however you want to define it, to a hidden sub culture of individuals from all backgrounds connected by our passion for BLADING.
Along with our industry, our spots and perspectives have changed. The variety of spots skated and diversity of skaters I personally feel are at the highest points they have ever been at in the short history of blading. Feeding that is the maturity and aging of BLADERS. For a lot of us as we grow in our personal careers and professions, it’s not a matter of getting kicked out of a spot or potentially getting a $100 trespassing ticket anymore, but it’s also about potentially losing client or career opportunity. Given that is kind of dramatic but in many cases may be true depending on the city you live in and the interaction you have with the public and/or business owners. What was once a simple risk with minor implications now can have consequences that are a little more complicated. This is how I feel in my own life.
While returning home from a meeting south of Salt Lake City I spotted something off the freeway in an industrial area I had explored a hundred times. A metal fabrication shop which rarely had anything more than a handful of trusses and structural beams, had curved sheets of steel laying out in its yard forming a perfect half-pipe. Just as it would have when I was 12, the spot stuck in my head and I went to check it out that night right after work.
You grow up and you get old, but blading keep a lot of us young. It’s that “youth” inside that makes you forget the consequences, ignore the barbed wire fence and no trespassing signs, and lets you experience that rush and love for blading that’s kept you on skates since you were in middle school. The experience and memory of the session or spot is what keeps it alive.
It’s not only the tricks. It’s the hopping the fence late at night to shovel out the spot and put ice melt on it so that it will be ready the next morning, that you remember. It’s the fact that you had to set the exposure, hop the fence, set up the flash, put your skates on, slip several times and then finally get the pic all in a matter of 5 minutes while a passing train is blaring its horn at you to get away from the tracks that makes you remember the moment. That is why we BLADE. We BLADE to capture it, to show it, to experience it all and to remember it.