I should call this Size Matters Or: Am I Even a Freestyler?
I watched Denham Hill's YouTube video on freestyling on a street board earlier today, and I feel like I really need to say a few things.
First off, lets get this out of the way:
Denham says we should support (invest our money) in freestyle based companies because they are invested in freestyle. And he's right about that. I feel a little guilt ordering a non-freestyle company product, and I do make sure to order skids, shirts, and bushings from Decomposed but I feel guilt when I could order from Mode or Waltz or Moonshine and I don't.
Now, to the meat of the conversation, why do I ride what I ride and, am I really a freestyle skater? Because I'm not sure anymore.
Board size: I ride what I ride because they are all enjoyable. Sometimes it is a 7.3 " board with a sub-13 inch wheelbase. Sometimes it is an 8" street sized board. Sometimes it is a 8.75 popsicle and sometimes a longboard. I ride each board for one reason, they're all enjoyable. And they're all enjoyable for different reasons. The 7.3 requires that I am more precise. It turns faster and has a lot less room for error. The 8.75 is enjoyable because it feels like a tank after riding the 7.3. I can go slow and sloppy riding it...and it is really fun for non-freestyle curb bashing slappys. The longboard is enjoyable for the pure flow of it. Smooth and slow.
But, all of that said, I primarily ride the 8" pop these days, and it has me questioning whether I'm a freestyler or a just a guy that is primarily a flatland skater. See, while I love how Denham (and some others) do rail tricks, I don't have a strong desire to do them (aside from casper disasters, those are awesome). And pogo tricks do nothing for me (I just don't like 'em). I need to work on 50/50 tricks, but I'm waiting for the dead of winter and snow days to do that. They look great when mixed in with a lot of rolling tricks.
The traditional freestyle stuff I love are fingerflips and footwork. I'm working hard to add wheelies as well, but if I'm honest, the wheelies feel better on my 8" popsicle. G-turns, flamingos, hang ten nose wheelies are all more fun on the 8" popsicle if I'm honest.
I have also started doing tons of step off tricks. Step off tricks, no comply based stuff, is a mainstay of the 80's street skater (which are my roots, of course), but they get looked down on by a lot of freestylers. They're too easy compared to the non-step off counterparts is generally the main argument. The secondary argument is the "floor is lava" tradition of no stepping off the board for freestyle. As I go from g-turn to endover to shove it to 360 no comply I have wondered if I just left freestyle and moved into flatland territory.
Add in that I love longboard dance stuff including some really really step off ghost ride tricks, and I'm wondering if what I do even constitutes freestyle anymore. Maybe I'm a flatland skater not a freestyler. Maybe I'm a longboard dancer without a longboard (most of the time). Sure I do walk the dogs and spacewalks, but who knows?! I was once told that telling the difference between freestyle and flatland skating was a lot like telling the difference between pornography and art. You just know...but now I start to wonder...
Despite the name "freestyle" I am starting to believe that freestyle isn't free at all. It seems to have as many if not more rules than other types of skating. Is that good for the future of freestyle skating? Should I care? I mean whether I'm a freestyler or not I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I've tapped into the skating I love now, as a nearly 50 year old man, more than I have in the previous 30 plus years so...I guess what I call it doesn't matter except that I'm calling it...
I'm not even sure if I want to call what I do freestyle anymore. Maybe I'll drop the name and just call it skating.