LOVELETTER – RED DRAGON

Canada, Oh Canada, why are you so special? And why RDS FSU (Red Dragon Fuck Shit Up) is a video for the ages…

For some reason Canada and Canadians for the longest of times never got the shine they deserved. I mean, obviously we are all very happy that Canada supplies us with their Canadian maple, so we can buy and skate fresh seven-plied pieces of wood.

At the same time, these days Canadians are often on the butt end of the joke. Now this joking about the great country above the USA is something that I as a European just might not fully understand. Sure, Canadian skaters are known for being into some things that were kind of special or weird, things like: a fondness of really long white T-shirts, fitted hats, super tech skating and stink-leg tre flips. But at the same time, Canada produced amazing skaters like Rick Howard, Mark Appleyard, Keegan Sauder, Wade Desarmo and only recently Bobby De Keyzer.

Canada also has a great history when it comes to making skateboard videos. The Dime MTL Crew has been putting out great material and before that, Green Apple made Supper’s Ready and Video X, which inspired Peter Sidlaukas to create the Bronze 56K videos. But still, I feel we often forget one of the greatest skate videos to ever come out of Canada: The Red Dragons 2002 release RDS FSU. So let’s talk about this classic, and why you should care about it as well.

Let’s start at the beginning. Some of you might be familiar with Red Dragon, a brand that has not changed its image or clothes one bit since it first came on the scene. Big red logo shirts, board shorts and a bro-tastic party atmosphere are still very much at the heart of the company’s products and image. You could argue that the Red Dragons might not move in-sync with the current time, but you could also argue that they are staying true to what they know and love.  

I first came into contact with this Canadian phenomenon through their first video, RDS FSU. Some of you might not have had the pleasure to watch this video – you can find it below – so I will provide you with a little taste. The video starts of with the typical epic slow motion intro, but instead of showing you the classic Zero-esque skateboard hero, we see a couple of rollerbladers getting ready to skate a very big double set. They are rolling up to the set and are about to try something gnarly, as the shot fades into showing the rollerblader trying a backside 180 air. The moment the blader slams his head into the concrete, the music instantly changes to Kernkraft 400’s “Zombie Nation” and the Red Dragon party starts.
 
To me, this is the perfect opener to a great skateboard video. First part belongs to Ryan Smith who is skating to Guns N’Roses, a great song. After Ryan’s part ends, the video moves into Moses Itkonen’s part. Moses is a scary-looking fellow who likes to fuck with anybody who’s trying to ruin a good skate session, but besides being quite the alpha male Moses is a very esteemed performer of the noseslide. If Quartersnacks had been around in 2002, Moses would have been a contender for their Noseslider of the Year award.

Now let’s fast-forward to Rob Sluggo Boyce’s part: Sluggo is a muscular gymnast, snowboarder, break dancer, and vert skater who’s intro consists of a phone call from the filmer announcing that they edited his part to the Backstreet Boys. Boyce’s answer is short: “If you edit my part to the fucking Backstreet Boys, you are fucking dead!” During this phone call they show images of a shirtless Sluggo flexing topless. Then the music fades in: Backstreet’s back alright! This is one of the greatest parts by a vert skater, on top of that, it is possibly the best part in the video. The first time I saw his section I had to rewind my VHS tape multiple times to finally come to the conclusion that he did a backflip to fakie on vert!
 
Whilst Red Dragon is a clothing brand, the Red Dragons started out as a crew, the evolution from crew to brand often brings about a change in the vibe a brand has, RDS FSU however shows this crew type of feeling that many skaters know and love. Before Skatemafia had us throwing up gang signs, we had skaters like Colin McKay throwing up the Red Dragon horns. When I recently met former Red Dragon team member Chris Haslam, he told me a remarkable story: Chris was visiting a gallery opening where he met a deaf person, the guy ended up showing Chris some sign language, as it turns out the hand sign for skateboarding looks almost exactly like the Red Dragon hand sign.

Now, of course we can’t be sure what the origins of this are, but I choose to believe that the influence of the Red Dragons made it all the way into the sign language.

As one major takeaway from reading this article, the sign for skateboarding is quite easy to learn:

1. Fold both hands into the Red Dragon horns position; basically a “peace” sign with crooked fingers.

2. Lower your arms till you are at stomach height.

3. Imagine your hands now symbolizing both the trucks on a skateboard.

And the second takeaway of this article, is check out RDS FSU. The video also shows some of the skaters’ struggles and Canadian pride, whilst at the same time making fun of themselves. I’m not going to summarize the whole video for you because that would defeat the purpose of you actually checking it out.. Go see it, RDS FSU is truly a video for the ages!

A little rumor, when I recently met up with Red Dragon Ryan Decenzo he told me about his wish to make a new RDS FSU video so we might see another Canadian classic soon!

by Roland Hoogwater
Photo: Danny Sommerfeld