What's Up With All These New Skaters?
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
2020 has seen many things change. Whether it be the fact that if you asked someone 6 months ago about social distancing they wouldn’t have a clue as to what you were on about, or that the world has been on the brink of catastrophe every second day; we can conclude that a lot of things have changed since 2019. Another thing that has changed is the number of new skaters. You see them at Southbank, your local skate park or cruising around; new skaters are everywhere. But why? There’s a plethora of different reasons for the influx in new skaters.
One of these reasons is TikTok. The Chinese owned social media platform has hundreds of millions of users. The scarily accurate algorithms display new areas people may find interesting or cool. One of these areas is skateboarding. Some skaters have capitalised on this algorithm and have become “TikTok skaters”. Comparable to “eboys”, the “TikTok skater” is a bit softer than your average anti-hero wearing, thrasher reading skate rat. The “TikTok skater” often paints their nails black and many look like Sean Pablo clones (no disrespect to Sean he fucking rips). These skaters have influenced a new generation of people to begin skating. Skating is “cool” again because of these guys. Teenagers from all over the world have picked up Tony Hawk completes and descended on skate parks. This isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. The ones who stick with skating after it’s no longer in fashion (fashion has a cyclical existence) will be gnarly.
Another reason may be the film Mid90s. Directed by Jonah Hill, the feature length film is set in LA during the mid 1990’s (as indicated by the title). The protagonist, Stevie (played by Illegal Civ’s Sunny Suljic) is a beginner who gets into skating as a form of escapism from his rocky home life. Stevie (or “Sunburn”) forms deep friendships and finds acceptance within the skateboarding community. The film was released in 2018, however it was put onto Netflix in 2020. Quarantine saw an increase in Netflix users (which was expected). However, Mid90s shot up the trending tab as more and more people watched the film due to a lack of fresh content on the streaming platform. The film (which also stars FA’s Na-Kel Smith and features cameos from Chad Muska, Chico Brenes, Donovon Piscopo, Donny Barley and others) was shared and referenced on TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram after its immense success on Netflix. With the “skater boy” aesthetic being put into a clean visual form and shown to mainstream audiences, the aesthetic became desirable overnight. Completes flew off the shelves in skateshops and skate wear (dickies, vans etc.) became fashionable once more.
(Above) the main cast of Mid90s
Finally, quarantine. A skateboard has very few requirements for usage. All you need is a flat spot of concrete or tarmac, yourself and you’re good to go. Over the last 6 months, boredom has taken over all of us, so some people sought to rid themselves of this monotony by learning to skate. Skating is one of the most enjoyable experiences anyone can partake in. The feeling of learning new tricks, dropping in for the first time etc. That feeling is incomparable to anything else. The capability of a plank of wood with wheels to make you feel so hyped is unexplainable. It may sound very cliché, but I've always said that skating is the only good addiction. In a wider sense it teaches perseverance, patience and determination. Socially, it opens you up to one of the most beautiful, diverse and unique communities on the planet.
Many people are sour at the hordes of new skaters descending upon skate parks. The term poser gets tossed around a lot and I do understand that. New skaters often over compensate with skate clothing to cover up their lack of board confidence. However, more people skating is never a bad thing. From an economic standpoint it means more people are buying products from skate shops, which in turn puts money directly back into the skate community. Socially, diversity is growing in skating but it still isn’t quite representative of all. More skaters means more diversity within our community. Diversity causes creativity and new ideas to be thrown into the mix; without a doubt skating needs this now more than ever.