Blader Digest: Rollerblading Isn’t Cool

One night in San Francisco, a van full of rollerbladers walk into a bar. They’re having fun, getting drunk, and doing things drunk rollerbladers do.

A blader you may know is casually talking to a young lass.

Female: So how do you guys all know each other?

Fish: We rollerblade.

Female (laughs): No, really, how do you guys know each other?

Fish: No, really, we rollerblade.

Female, looking extremely confused: Wait? You guys really rollerblade? Even that cool guy over there?

Fish: Yes, he, just like the rest of us, are rollerbladers.

Female, still confused: Whatever.

The female walks away. She returns minutes later.

Female: Okay, are you just messing with me, or do you guys really rollerblade?

(EDIT: Unfortunately, the original version was not true enough. I was one of those drunk rollerbladers doing things drunk rollerbladers do. Anyway, Fish corrected the story to make it 100-percent true because Fish is a nice guy like that.)

See, we as individual rollerbladers can be cool. Shit, Stokley’s cool. Fish is cool. But as rollerbladers, we’re not cool. And it’s not just some random bitch at a bar that thinks so.

You know the jokes. You’ve seen the Dos Equis ad with the Most Interesting Man in the World on his view of rollerblading.

Whatever you’re doing right now, stop and ask yourself: am I being cool right now? It’s important if you want to fit into society. So yeah, always do what other people think is cool.

The public is fickle. We, as a collective society, have a limited attention span. We fall in love with something and immediately forget about it. Love and attention are fleeting things. Love what you have while you have it because soon — POOF! — it’s gone.

But love, in the terms of what the public wants so badly and then immediately despises, is all about saturation. The public loves something until it’s had too much. Then it moves along, passing judgment and washing its hands along the way.

When it comes to the idea of public opinion, I firmly fucking disagree with Mark Twain.

Remember kids: Just because not everyone loves it doesn’t make it bad.

Think of your favorite song. Not your favorite song right now, but your favorite song of all time. Now think what would happen if you listened to it all day, everyday. You’d get fucking sick of it, right? So that’s why you only listen to it when you need it, like getting ready to lace a huge hammer or you finally have the best edit ever and need the right fucking song.

Well, skateboarding is the song that’s being sung. right now Unfortunately, everyone’s signing it and society as a whole is getting a little tired of hearing it. Maybe not right now, but soon.

The same way blading was everywhere in the 1990s, skateboarding is there now. You can buy a T-shirt with Justin Bieber skateboarding. We’ve all seen the ads with MC Hammer kick flipping a skateboard. Advertisers are all about taking their product, adding in a skateboard, and calling it “edgy.” Skateboarding, right now, is being used as a tool to link popular culture with a fringe culture. It happened with rollerblading. That’s where the mainstream exposure, sponsorships, and attention came from. It’s gone now, and it’s in the hands of skateboarders.

Skateboarding is cool… for now.

That is changing. People are seeing skateboarding less as a hip thing, and more of a thing that everyone does. That’s why when you tell someone you skate, they automatically think skateboarding. Or, when you tell them you rollerblade, they’ll still think skateboarding. The collective brain of society has had skateboarding mashed into their skulls for so long that they can’t separate it from something else. It’s like we’re all suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or something.

It’s not skateboarding’s fault. Yeah, everyone who rides a skateboard (which is completely different than a skateboarder) thinks they belong to this uber-chic subculture that still maintains a pure soul.

Skateboarders are the dudes that live for what they do. People that ride skateboards want to be part of the culture. They see what’s out there and want a piece of the action, yet they can’t get their board off the ground. It’s a fashion statement more than a way of life. I’m old enough to remember when rollerblading was that thing.

The difference for us is that when people think rollerblading, they think of people awkwardly clomping around on rec blades. They think spandex, and clumsy movements, and fanny packs.

You never hear about “recreational skateboarding” although I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of the money poured into corporate contracts for skateboarders come from that money. If you carry a skateboard around, the general impression from others is that you’re more like this:

Than this:

Then again, the vast majority of society thinks about a rollerblader and get this mental image:

Instead of the vast majority of people who are rollerbladers are a wee bit closer to this:

Okay, now that we’ve separated rollerbladers from people who rollerblade and people who skateboard from skateboarders, let’s move on.

Still, that doesn’t mean the most badass motherfuckers on boards aren’t the sickest dudes to share a skate spot with. These are the old school cronies that can shred a bowel at 30 mph, the guys who love when you wax everything up, and the guys with more scars than tattoos. Those dudes are awesome. However, they’re also the image of their sport. They skated for decades not giving a fuck what greater society thought of them. They just skated.

That’s who we are.We keep doing what we’re doing and most of us don’t give a shit about what society has dictated as the cool thing for the moment.

There are thousands of people who rollerbladed, loved it, and now talk shit on it. Why? Because it’s cool to hate on things that lots of people think are uncool.

Even if they’re doing Superman front flips.

That being said, it’s about time we become cool with being uncool.

This idea of cool is largely dominated by the mass media, mass culture, and mass consumption. Whatever people are buying is cool. Whatever is on TV is cool. Whatever is being said by the people who own the magazines, TV stations, and multi-million dollar advertising budgets is cool.

Therefore, since we don’t see rollerblading anywhere any of that, that makes us uncool by the means by which all else is cool. It’s simple math.

So people say we’re uncool. Now, maybe rollerblades are becoming cool again, the same way Grunge is slowly making a comeback. So get ready to see more people taking off their Doc Martins to put on rollerblades while they wear their flannel shirts tied around their waists.

See, we’re just getting through the 80s neon color phase, so that means the 90s are next. Rollerblading went from cool to the gayest thing since AIDS and now it’s retro.

That’s right. Most of us old dogs have been blading long enough that we went from its infancy to being retro. Let that shit sink into your head.

That being said, we need to seriously lighten the fuck up.

People talk shit. That’s why the internet was invented. It gives a voice to those who have the courage to say, but not to do. No matter what you do, someone is going to hate it. Now, we can either keep our calm, let people say what they want, and keep them in their ignorance.

Or, we can try to say something when we’re feeling overly-emotional, but there’s a good chance our angry words will fall on deaf ears. Worse yet, they’ll fall on ears who could hear our response coming a mile away.

Let’s take this week’s fun in mass media. Oh yeah, there was rollerblading mentioned somewhere, so people gotta freak the fuck out.

It all started when Vice magazine did a light-hearted piece about slapping some skates on a dude who’s never bladed and having him roll around the city. There was no research into market trends, rollerblading as it is now, or anything like that. It was just a simple, funny piece.

The article title, I imagine, was the main thing that pissed everyone off.

Okay, sure, I could see how those little pot-shots in there might irk a few people. But, hey, we’re secure with ourselves, our passion, and our sport, right?

Yeah, you know the answer to that one.

The response was SO big from the Vice article that it warranted a follow-up  based on the reaction of skaters and bladers alone.

Man, oh man, I can’t believe they brought Mitch Goosen into this bitch. Now they’re really pulling some serious shit. That kind of shit really tugs at every nerve along Devil’s Backbone.

Why man? Who, besides anonymous commenters could spark such ire that they had to throw off the gloves and strap on the Boneless?

Oh, yeah.

Justin Eisinger — like me — has never been shy with his opinions.

See, these are all golden opportunities to go in there, drop some links to some great edits, act like members of a civilized race, and represent rollerblading as something that’s secure with itself.

You could be all cool and say something like:

You should check out what other bladers are doing since we were ‘laughed out of the public domain’.

Okay, it’s not the most riveting comment in the world, but if you leave it to a fucking cool edit like the one from Mark Wojda, you’ll get a lot more people to pay attention to blading.

Nope. Instead it’s all:

Fuck your dead mother’s vagina with a broken off broom stick like Jeffrey Dahmer in a prison shower. — John Bolino

We out here and shit. Fuck all you pussy-ass bitches. We’ll rain paper because we getting paid here at the Razor’s House! — Sneaky

Please don’t mention rollerblading again. If rollerblading became popular, we’d stop making skates. Because, you know, we’re hipsters and shit. Also, we don’t like Bon Iver anymore. He’s too mainstream. — Team Valo

I imagine everyone would prefer all stories end up like the one that was on Slate this week:

Hey, look, we’re cool again! Yaaaaaaaay!


Please don’t take any of this the wrong way because I fucking love blading. I think it’s the sickest shit out there. But, since I’m a blader, I’m not cool. I don’t do cool things like skateboard, or ride fixies, or wear Ray Bans, or all sorts of other shit really cool people do.

We’re uncool.

We have to admit it, or we’re going to keep looking like pissed off little children when we go crying to places that say even one single ill word or attempt to throw some kind of humor in the situation.

I rollerblade. I wear rollerblading clothes. I go to Detroit in the fucking winter to hang out with my rollerblader friends and watch some badass rollerblading. I fucking love it.

No, I’m not cool. And I’m fucking cool with that.

Blade or Die,

— Brian Krans

P.S. — If you found any reason in any of these ramblings, you might want to check out my next book, Freeze Tag on the Highway. Yes, one of the characters blades. Deal with it.


  • i love you krans!

  • same here jose

  • Jeremy wrote:

    Wow, Ivan represents what’s cool in blading? Really?

  • Barbie wrote:

    Personally, no doubt about it, I think bladers are the coolest guys ever!!

  • “That kind of shit really tugs at every nerve along Devil’s Backbone.” hahaha Very nice sir.



  • Zac Hutchings wrote:

    AMEN! Great read Krans! :)

  • Zac Hutchings wrote:

    Ok well i have some more thought to this
    I am not old enough to have seen blading go from being “in” in the 90s to then going out of the public eye or whatever but it seems to me that rollerbladers as a collective dont know what they want. I dont mean to make this sound bad so if excuse me if i do but if you go back and read many of your previous posts you will be able to find some contradictory thoughts to the one you have posted now and thats not a bad thing we are all human and we can never make our minds up but it just seems to me that trying to understand what rollerbladers want as a whole collective is just a waste of time. There isnt on voice or one company or one person in particular that can tell rollerbladers worldwide what it is that they should want when it comes to being deemed “cool” by society or to stay underground and this being said all the different companies have different views of what they want which you pointed out towards the end of this post. All rollerbladers that actually have a genuine interest in rollerblading will understand that sure it wouldnt be bad to become mainstream, there is always that time at the skatepark when someone looks at you funny or you get laughed at just because your on blades and you get all emotional and wish that blading was mainstream so that you could prove them all wrong but then when your not getting ostricized by society you love the fact that rollerblading is underground and not many people do it because it makes you individual and lets be honest we all think we are pretty damn awesome! what im trying to say is that we can never just one view as to what we want for rollerblading in regards to the whole being “cool” issue and its something that as a collective we will never agree on…..

  • have my comment been removed?
    anyway…best post krans

    I don’t think most people have an opinion one way or another about rollerblading, really. I’ve been sessioning alone the past couple of days on a new ledge in the busiest part of my city. Nobody’s had anything to say yet, either “you fag” or “you super cool guy.”
    Most people don’t care about most other people’s stuff. That’s why it’s fine that we’re not cool, I think?

  • great shit dude, right there with you.

  • Dayton Coopersmith wrote:

    I guess the dick on the forehead already exists. Dayton Coopersmith

  • fuck yes sir

  • Billy O'Neill wrote:

    This is all bad ass and really cool and i love krans..keep doing your thing, BUT i did not say “google me bitch”…got misquoted there…I would never care enough about what random person thinks about me to tell them to search my blading on the internet…and it’s not my style to call girls i don’t know bitches.

    Just had to clear that up…other than that, this kicks ass…keep doing your thing krans.

    blade or die

  • I’d pop your kids, but those lil fuckers would be hard to control from dropping proverbial quotes and sayings on a mofo’s ass and I don’t want your girl beating me down, so I’ll just say: I love every sentence. nuff said..

  • Danny De wrote:

    Well written man. I had my confused phase in high school where I thought I wanted to be a boarder instead of a blader because it was cool but then I woke up one day and realised…Rollerblading isn’t just something I do, its a big part of who I am and I don’t give a fuck what people think. Been rolling and loving it ever since. It would be nice to see it get big so the pros make some money but I love that it’s underground. I love how I can roll up to a group of bladers I don’t know and almost immediately get a warm welcome. You don’t see that kind of love in boarding and that to me makes us way fucking cooler.

  • George Castro wrote:

    I wear Ray Bans prescription glasses…. Damn it… Im cool with not being cool plus its dope to show up at a park and fakie 360 the biggest drop and everyone just looks at you like damn… Fuck the haters do what you love period

  • The real barbie wrote:

    hey krans,
    I am one of rollerbladings biggest supporters and I love the article, but is there really another barbie writing these comments or am I being impersonated? Lol

  • PeePeePooPoomayne wrote:

    skateboarding look gay.. roll nuf said

  • JR Gantan wrote:

    I think reading this article should be a requirement for joining messageboards like be-mag and –dare I say it— rollernews, etc. From the grumpy, 30-something blade ‘gurus’ to the euro babies hiding behind anonymity, everyone needs to relax. …And I don’t mean to be resigned, but just stop wasting your energy by escalating the fight.

    One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story, he says:

    “You can’t change people with your fists. I’ve learned that. See, they see something strange, something they don’t understand, and they get afraid. Teach them the beauty of that strange thing and they’re no longer afraid…because it’s become part of them.”

    I’m glad some of the best bladers are realizing this, and just flooding the internet with amazing clips. Even local homies like Sean Keane putting out raw WEEKLY edits… nothing more, nothing less. All he has to do is shred and film, and everyone, including skateboarders, are friends with him.

    Yet, in spite off all that, in spite of all the things I agree with you, I still can’t help but feel conflicted. I always feel good reading about how Billy O’Neill roughed up a hater in his One Mag article.

  • lastride gonz wrote:

    in it since 94 ! we still out here ! im cool with being uncool ! and always down to fight for what i do and how i live ! peace

  • Damn, once again, you hit the nail on the head. I started rollerblading because I got hated on by skateboarders for skateboarding and am now totally used to the notion of being “uncool.” I may be uncool to the outside world, but hell, I’m cool with those I chose to roll with.

    Blade or die \m/

  • […] Blader Digest: Rollerblading Isn’t Cool – blade or dieJul 2, 2011 … Let’s take this week’s fun in mass media. Oh yeah, there was rollerblading mentioned somewhere, so people gotta freak the fuck out. […]

  • Nard's Mcgoop wrote:

    i started riding the rubber ridge in high school as a way to rebel against my hip parents and groovy schoolmates that were way into hash parties and drinking beer. I always knew christ was on my side and being close to the pavement was in my heart. Growing up in Iran being christian is dangerous and when the blades you been pushing a mower all summer to save for are the envy of every starving child on the street you gotta be quick dropping your thing and beating it down the alley. I will never forget my first day of freedom grinding rails in heaven on the streets of teran or hearing my mothers scream when she found the bible in my room. Thanks blading bro.s Im gay and I’m proud/

  • […] written about similar incidents involving bladers at bars and why rollerblading isn’t cool. Why is it such a popular […]

  • Anonymoose wrote:

    I’m a 12 year old girl and I fucking love rollerblading. Is that wrong?

    And just incase you were wondering…
    No, I do not go around on pink disco skates.

    Great article. :)

  • I thought “Cool” meant, not caring what other people think, chilled out in general. I think the coolest people are the ones who don’t follow trends, they set them, and if they don’t set them, they do what they love regardless of popular opinion. That’s confidence. And I don’t mean people who on purposely go out and do things or wear things just to look different (because that’s just another form of getting public attention). I mean people who love something, and aren’t going to be stopped because people think it looks dumb. I have just started blading, it’s so amazingly awesome, I never heard it was uncool until now, and I think that’s hilarious people are missing out because they have a strange unjustified hang up about it.

  • Well said Rebekah.

  • I could not read all of your rant. It’s total bs. You act like skateboarding came along after rollerblading, and stole it’s thunder and sponcerships. Skateboarding as a sport and as a whole was around much longer than the extrem side of rollerblading. And skateboarding is still around today, it died once, but lives on because it’s lagit. Rollerblading, came way afterwards, many of the moves and basic structure for the “extreme” sport came from skateboarding. They tried to market it as such. It was ridiculous. The whole thing backfired on itself. So if your going to try and defend it know what the fuck you are taking about and don’t try and sound like some sort of tool, Man, no wonder everyone thinks rollerbladers are gay, because of guys like you, it’s like you guys wanted to be skateboarders but couldn’t so you picked up rollerblading because it’s easier.

  • Excuse the spelling errors I did not proof read, but I know you guys will have a field day with that, the only thing that you could pick on, because the rest is true. I don’t hate it, but from what I read you have no clue as to what you’re talking about

  • You know skateboarding has not always been cool, it was not always like that, it had to fight its way to be accepted as a sport, as a whole, rollerblading is not the same, you do something because you are passionate about it. Rather it’s hula hoop or rollerblades. Tons of sports fight for the right to lagitamized, personally I race motocross, do you know how many people think you just sit on the bike and it does all the work, all the football and baseball people I work around don’t even consider it a sport, or physically enduring, we have to deal with that shit all the time, get over it it upsets me but you realize people are clueless. Teamsport mentality kid me, I respect team sports but they don’t ours, I mean when you go to a track you have to sign a waver, that’s passion and dedication. My son races, we both love it, he made it to the Loretta Lynn’s championship last year, that’s fucking huge, but when I talk about it at work they dismiss it for what transports are doing, or if they are talking about a sport I’ll try and relate with something moto, and they look at me like I’m crazy. It’s all relative, but so be it. But don’t try and and like skateboarding is the new rollerblading fad, that’s just nonsence. It has been around longer and will remain where it is it’s platued. But it’s here to stay. Get over yourself do what you enjoy, no need to bitch about something else or throw blame because rollerblading isn’t cool. I respect and love football and baseball, both take a hight level of skill, but so does motocross. Excuse the spelling once again but I’m running late and have no time for spelling errors. Just my 2 cents

  • Spelling errors or misplaced words due to spell correct changing things,just read between the lines. And I think you can get it.

  • I see everything is awaiting approval, hopefully it all will be approved, it would seem as such you would approve just the un corrected rant, and not the acknowledgment of me realizing my own spelling and grammar errors. I’ll say one last thing before I go in because now I’m here at work, sports like skateboarding and Bmx, and freestyle BMX, blazed the way for rollerblading as you know it today and in the 90’s, you give no acknowledgment Of that what so ever. That point alone make you full of shit. There were no “bladders” skating 1/2 pipes in the early 80’s or 70’s, so shut the fuck up, it was all derived from skateboarding and BMX, give those sports the credit they deserve before you bitch about why rollerblading isn’t cool. That the part that irritates me the most. And that’s why it gets no respect, it was a rip off sport, marketed to kids to generate sales of a new product, sold as extreme and cool. If you enjoy it cool do it, but respect and know where it came from and why. Motocross came from harescrambles and woods racing, even though I don’t do those things I know and respect them, and don’t bitch about them when no one respects my sport. Bottom line is most people can put on some rollerblades and go, or ride a bike, but not everyone can skateboard or ride BMX. But to do the rollerblade stuff on ramps and things does take a certain amount of atheatasim.

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