Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why "International No Ollie Day" Should Be The Next Big Skate Holiday

Every year when Go Skateboarding Day rolls around, I get to thinking about other holidays skaters might think up to celebrate their culture. Usually these musings are just an excuse to crack jokes and troll for cheap laughs, but this year I’ve been thinking about something more functional, more sincere. I’ve come up with an annual event that will both pay homage to some neglected elements of skateboarding while opening the minds and trick repertoires of all the skaters who choose to participate. A holiday skating, especially street skating needs.

I call it International No Ollie day.

When the ollie reached the streets it revolutionized skateboarding. In the 80’s for kids who didn’t have access to ramps, it was the gateway to “real” skateboarding. Fast forward to today: The ollie is the basis for almost every modern street skating trick, not to mention a practical necessity for moving smoothly through almost any urban environment.

What would happen if, suddenly, the ollie just disappeared, even if it was just for one day.

The ollie is an innovation we all take for granted. But the ollie wasn’t something pre-ordained. It might just as easily never happened. What would skateboarding be like if Gonz and his colleagues had never applied Rodney Mullen’s mutation of Allan Gelfland’s no handed air to the city streets? Would street skating have never happened?

Of course not. The ollie wasn’t the beginning of street skating and it is not the end. If it had never been invented, we would still be going wild in the streets, it would just be a different breed of wild than what we came up with.

I have spent a lot of time looking at old footage and photography from the first half of the 80’s, the days when modern street skating was beginning to define itself. Watching clips of the Venice Pavilion, or the early street contests, you can see a whole parallel evolution that might have taken place had the ollie never been taken to stratospheric heights by Gonz and Natas. For the most part, this evolution was never allowed to happen once the ollie became a practical and obligatory move. In the era when the ollie had limited pop, skaters were improvising all sorts of aggro ways to exploit the streets. Steve Caballero’s ability to boost an early grab out of even the barest of inclines was incredible. Hosoi was doing bomb drops off roofs and floating 10 foot high wall rides. Guys were sliding their wheels and slapping curbs. Static streetplants were evolving into increasingly dynamic and complex wall plants. And then there’s the curb skating. I don’t even need to get into all the things you can do on a curb without ever popping an ollie. How far could these styles have gotten if we hadn’t all become rightfully obsessed with the ollie?

International No Ollie day isn’t about commemoration of the past, it’s about evolution for the future.  Complete freedom can spark inspiration, but limitation is the best catalyst for lateral thinking. Deprive yourself of the most basic and obligatory move in your repertoire and you will have to barge headlong down the alternative avenues those primal street skaters were paving before the ollie reigned supreme: Slappies, footplants, no-complies, early garbs, berts, street slides, wallrides, wallies, bonelesses and bomb drops...

Sure, a lot of skaters have dabbled with the techniques mentioned above, but, for the most part, these things are just novelties sprinkled into a riders usual repertoire. Some guys have even helped evolved these tricks to heretofore unseen levels. But just, imagine how far the best of the best could get devoting a whole day to these secondary styles of skating.

Imagine how far you might get. Where you might wind up going if you had to abstain from the ollie for a day.

But forget about tricks for a minute. International No Ollie Day can help skaters tap into elements of street skating that have nothing to do with tricks. Street skating not only pre-dates the ollie, it pre-dates what we now consider “trick riding”.  With this in mind, No Ollie Day is not just a time to connect with your inner GSD or Ricky Winsor, it’s also a day to call forth the street mojo of Jay Adams, Stacy Peralta, Steve Olson, and all the other guys who could make rolling down a hill or just carving a bank look epic without ever lifting a wheel off the pavement.

So, lets get together and make International No Ollie Day a reality. For style, for imagination, and for skateboarding. The streets are wide open, and there’s infinite ways to shred them. One day could open a whole lifetime of possibilities.


  1. Keep up the great work! I can honestly say that pretty much every post that you've written has resonated with me and really mirrors my own story. I grew up skating in Venice and Santa Monica back in the 80's and 90's, and at 38 am still rolling, still searching for the perfect curb to skate on my own, or with a couple of friends. So glad I found your blog. Looking forward to your next post!