Apologies for the prolonged absence.
The recent turn of fortune for the British weather has had a severe impact upon not only my availability to blog, but also willingness to blog on a regular basis. Sure thing I’ve been out and about a lot over the last two weeks during the Easter break, and much needed break it was indeed. Now however, somewhat reluctantly, a return to a more studious, responsible and altogether far less physically active lifestyle is required in order to pass exams and meet the end of year deadlines.
But what exactly was I up to this Easter which had me so distracted from the usual reading, thinking and writing etc. Have I joined a gym? God no! Have I started playing some kind of team sport for the University? Hell no! Have I been otherwise engaged in some other form of traditional fitness based activity such as running, speed-walking or swimming? Most definitely not!
Following the completion of essay’s and commencement of the Easter break I dug out my skateboard, dusted it off, and let rip at any opportunity which the weather gave. Why then does this soon to be twenty seven year old ‘mature’ student still waste his time bumming about on a child’s toy? This is where the sociological side of the blog shows its face and I stop boring you with every detail of my Easter holiday (I hope).
Well, for a start, compared to many other popular physical activities skateboarding can be consumed relatively cheaply. Sure thing the initial investment in a half decent ‘set up’ probably comes as a shock to most. Around £120 will get you rolling and on the whole a new under-carridge (trucks, wheels, bearings and bolts) will last much longer than the plank or ‘deck’ itself, which along with the skater takes the most punishment. In Leicester there are two skate-shops of which I am aware. Both are owned and ran by skaters who will be happy to help anyone put their first set-up together. These are: The Ledge and Casino Skates.
Towards the end March, as part of the youth culture and politics module, I was required to give a presentation as part of a group on youth subcultures of the last decade. Obviously, sticking with what I know best, I chose to give my section of the presentation on skateboarding subculture. Although the seeds of skateboarding subculture can be tracked right back to the 1950-60s -an offspring of the American surf subculture- the dramatic expansion of skateboarding subculture over the last decade, and indeed its survival during booms and slumps in popularity throughout the later half of the twentieth century is of sociological relevance in many respects.
So what exactly makes skateboarding classifiable as a subculture? Well, like other youth subcultures, skateboarding subculture separates itself from the family or parent culture. It attempts to be oppositional, it is irrational in organisation and ambiguous in its overall constitution. The physical act of skateboarding as well as much of the artistic narrative which emanates from the subculture is incredebly independent in its creativity which comenly mocks mainstream and capitalist culture in ever more inventive ways.
In this respect skateboarding has that little extra something when compared to most traditional, team based, cooperative sports and indeed many of the more contemporary individualist and creative past times such as free-running. It has its own deep and lengthy history which is rich in legend and myth, it has its very own language that other diciplines (BMX, in-line rollerblading and snowboarding) have been keen to borrow from. Also, many contemporary clothing fashions have been seen to adopt the ‘skater’ image and even popular music, film and television have borrowed from, or even helped form, skateboarding subculture in its present day depiction.
So I guess that sociologically, skateboarding subculture, even at an extremely brief glance is infinately diverse and very interesting. It offers those who are willing to risk life and limb not only an incredible sense of achievement upon the accomplishment of that new ‘trick’ which can have taken, in some cases, years to perfect but also a sense of belonging to a varied and exciting lifestyle, based most generally upon the individual critique and manipulation of the sprawling urban playground known as the city and its skate parks. I guess this is why I can honestly say when asked exactly when I will stop playing around on this child’s toy, “the answer is NEVER“.