The Long Read: Lea Isabell – What’s The Catch.
Welcome back to the long read and return home to one of our favorite voices, Lea Isabell. After her deep dive last time we now get a more entry-level excursion into why skateboarding is so addictive with “What’s The Catch”. You might feel it is self-explanatory but ask yourself: Why do I love skateboarding as much as I do? At the same time with the 2020 COVID-induced skateboard boom as a backdrop, it might be the right time to delve into your nostalgic bag and feel good about what you do and who you do it with.
What Is The Catch?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you thought: what the heck am I doing here? In many parts of our life, we experience frustration, failures, pain – emotionally as also physically, or even existential crises. It can happen in school, in university, at work, even while you live up to your hobby. And still, we find ourselves trying day by day to fulfill our dreams and expectations.
Related to skateboarding, I think we all went through a crisis or two at some point. Every now and again it just happens. But still, we will find ourselves back on our skateboard day by day. Or, at the very least, once every other week! Today I am trying to answer the question: What Is The Catch? – related to skateboarding.
So, “What Is The Catch?” When I first thought about that question, I felt that it was pretty obvious – it brings us a lot of fun! But after some more thought, I think there are a few other reasons, why skateboarding catches us the way it does. In the following text I will present you with some of these ideas:
Compared to other subcultures it’s pretty noticeable how many people from completely different walks of life can come together, mostly without having any problems with one another. No matter where you are from, what you look like, which type of interests you have, as long as you are not homophobic, racist, or sexist, people will include you in their skateboard crew and treat you with respect and acceptance.
Check out what Thrasher did about crew stickers for example.
Next to the Community, which sets the mood, there are places where we meet to skate and hang out. Whether it’s at the skatepark or in the streets, somehow skaters have a specific eye for the way things are built and with that eye, they can find a spot, which suits their character perfectly. It may be a bowl full of graffiti, a clean curb in a new housing estate, or a dirty ditch on the margins of a city, there are spots out there for everyone. Not only do those specific spaces give us a reason to stay or the opportunity to do something we love, but it also makes us move our bodies, which is the perfect transition to my next point.
Not only is skateboarding affecting the place we travel to, for some of us it is also the reason to travel in the first place. Some of us are watching a skate video to check out the spots, instead of watching the individual skater and the tricks. That is not a new thing in general, most of us have found ourselves in a situation where you thought to yourself: ”Wow nice spot, I want to go there!”. And from my personal experience, skateboarding makes traveling easier. Besides the fact, that you’re able to move through a city faster than just walking. Depending on the City you can find spots everywhere or nothing at all. But still, in the end, your glance can delve into the city much deeper than the glance of typical tourists. This doesn’t only work when it comes to architecture but also when it comes to culture. It’s way easier to connect with the locals when you’re with your skateboard. You are connected because you know the feeling of citizens walking by and being excited or angry about skating, or the troubles of trying tricks. In the end, it is often that the locals want to show you the best areas, the best food, and the best people.
We already summed up that we have a lot of options. We can be wherever we want to be, we can skate wherever we want to, and we can travel including a deeper look into cities, countries, cultures- or at least that is what we believe. But next to that, we also have a few other things. For example, we can skate whenever we want. It may be in the morning before work, a little session during your lunch break, or late in the afternoon when you’ve finished work – even at night. As long as it is dry (or not) or we have a good indoor park we can skate. We are not bounded by other people that engage in team sports like a football team. If our friends are busy, we can still go to the skatepark. Another point which to the novice might conceal a lot of options is the variety and the amount of the combination of tricks you can perform. You will never get bored because the list of tricks is endless. And if you feel extra charged you can go and try to invent a trick, which leads us to the next Section.
For me, the most important part about skateboarding is that it gives me the opportunity to be creative. you can delve into your bag of tricks, you can change the style of skating you are into or combine styles, or even personalize your board by painting, stickering it, or doing grip art. It is all big fun, but to me, the highlight of a skater’s creative output is creating your own video part (now mostly a single part). It takes a lot to build your own, even when it’s just a one-minute part for Instagram! The tricks you use, the spots you choose, the music you are skating to, and so on and so forth. You are always able to skate and create, get input, and give output to others without any visible limits (outside of your physical limits). You can use your wooden toy to show your true self, or you can hide behind it. But in any way, you put yourself out there by doing your skating which gives you your very own creative space and you can share that with others if you like.
Check out Jenkem’s “What Your Griptape Says About You” article.
Another important part of skateboarding is the fact, that it is a sport and physical activity makes us happy. If you want to have a closer look at why things like sports or exercise, in general, makes us happier people, click here. It is also important to note, that it is heavily debated but easily forgotten that skateboarding is considered a sport. Whether it is because of the police kicking us out or telling us to wear a mask while skating (during a pandemic) or it is just us forgetting about the physical part because it brings us so much joy. In the end, in my opinion, it is nice to forget that you are practicing sport while you’re doing it.
And where there is a sport, there is also a challenge. No matter how you twist the meaning of the word, whether it is one on one, a team vs another team, or you vs yourself. Skateboarding allows you to identify, choose, and overcome the challenge in front of you. You can go to a skate-contest and compete, your tricks and style versus the others. Or you can compete for likes on social media. Personally, I prefer battling myself instead of competing with others. You can challenge yourself by trying new tricks, repeating them after you land them and you might fail or get frustrated, but these are the same as our daily challenges in life. Try, fail, get up and try again.
Summed up we could say, skateboarding is -for many of us- a metaphor for life and maybe that’s the catch behind it. It helps us to express ourselves and to develop, our bodies as well as our mind. We can do a bunch of shit and fight ourselves through it. A friend once told me, if we learn a new trick, we often want to show it to others, and actually, that is often true for other things in our life as well. We are proud of our achievements and want to show what we achieved to others. If you experience something positive, you want to share it. Whether if it is because you are proud of or if it is because you want to spread positivity and inspire others. I think it’s something deep in our humanity, like a will, that let us get up, trying so we can create or achieve something to share it with our fellow man. And even when we found ourselves in situations where we ask: what the heck am I doing here? It is good to do so because you learn more about yourself and you start focusing on the things you really want in life. And if you see yourself getting up on your board all the time, you can hold on to the fact, that you really want skateboarding!