If you do not like rambling, half-formed posts, you do not have to read on!
I was listening to this recent podcast featuring Peter Sidlauskas (of Bronze fame), which I thought was pretty entertaining, and it struck me that although Peter (mid-30s) and the interviewer (27) were not that different in age, they had some differences in how they saw skateboarding. Peter seemed like a big skate and popular culture nerd, talking about stair counting and Slap, whereas the interviewer seemed less keen on skating (weird for a skateboard podcast host!) unless it was in NY and confessed that the clothes had been just as important to him for getting into skating.
This got me thinking, what are the differences you have noticed between the different generations or ‘waves’ of skateboarders? Or, what would a social history of skateboarding look like? Obviously, this will involve very crude generalisations, but that might also make it funny.
I’ll have a go:
The Back to the Future/Police Academy Generation
Started skating in the second half of the 1980s. Watched a lot of Powell videos and skated jump ramps, but came of age when street skating was really coming into its own. Now propping up the skateboard reissue market and doing slappies.
The THPS Generation
Love stairs and handrails, hate pools. Tend to think in terms of ‘tricks’ as a marker of a good session/progress. Have lots of hangups about what counts as ‘legit’. Can still switch heel but coming to terms with diminishing returns.
The Streetwear Generation
Got into skating at a slightly older age than previous generations, and as a result know less flip tricks. Love doing bean plants and other wretched manoeuvres on street for some reason. Prone to safety hands. Clothes, which they once called ‘garms’, are very important to them.
The Olympic Generation
Loves skating parks and is pretty good at it, but is institutionalised. Might never leave the park and consumes skateboarding almost solely via social media. Can do those floaty, alley-oop back 3s like Oski.
This has turned into one of those terrible Jenkem articles. Apologies. Also there are big gaps and I have totally neglected women’s skating (does that have a different set of generations?).