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The Evolution of Skateboarding in the 21st Century

By Valentina Diaz
V. Diaz, a journalist and passionate skateboarder is a full-time writer for SHIT®️ Magazine.

 

Even though skateboarding is empowered and filling up with new skaters every day, we can also agree that for those who wanted to live from this sport it used to be a very difficult goal to figure out. Being a skateboarder used to be close to being nothing, without a future, and without any chance to change the world with it.

If you have been skating for more than 10, 20 or 30 years you know how awesome it is to see old friends still skateboarding. It gives you sense of pride to know that despite any adversity, this friend confronted his or hers parents, society, fears, insecurities and frustration for their passion to skate.

No matter what time you started to skate, what really matters is how long you have fought to maintain yourself on that road. There are probably many ways to see how skateboarding has changed and what still looks the same today.

 

sk8 scene
Photo by Emilio Garcia (Unsplash)


We have covered a lot of good things that come from skateboarding here in the magazine. We've met some of the oldest pro skateboarders from each decade up until now. We've talked about iconic places and how important those have been to the sport, and we have reviewed the best contests and found the reasons that we now are an olympic sport as well.

Thanks to the whole world working on building our history, now we can create a historical memory of who we are and why so many people feel identified with it. So much so that anybody who sees a skateboarder outside today knows that just rolling on a skateboard is really cool and not an easy thing to do at all.

We are respected just for being in the skateboarding world and we never asked for it, because even when nobody wanted to support a rider or give them an opportunity, those who really skated never cared about that and just kept on skating.

Have you ever asked yourself what has changed until now? Well, let’s take a look at what’s changed from the 2000s to the 2020s.

 

 

Skateboard Clothing Style

sk8 clothes style
Photo by: Shawn Rodgers (Unsplash)

I think something that characterizes any skateboarder is the visual way we see them skate. If we look to 2020, skaters are more creative with their clothes, but what we have is what the industry in some way sells us too. More now than ever we see clothes with features that help us skate comfortably but in our own style as well.

Since 2000, music has been part of the kind of style we want to show. Sometimes we think about Punk Rock or Rap and Hip-hop. Punk with leather jackets, Hip-hop with "big pants and small wheels; while shoes were the same. At that point skaters needed a type of shoe specifically to skate and DC, DVS, Fallen, Etnies and others offered us just that.

 

 

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How can we forget bands like Blink 182, NOFX, Rancid, Misfits, The Cure, Sum 41, The Strokes, System of a Down, Papa Roach or The Offspring? In hip-hop we remember Gang Starr, Mobb Deep, Nas. Lately Indie Rock, but also urban music like Trap.

Music has been important because it is the outside influence youth find inspiration in most in skateboarding. Now we can just click at what we like and choose between a thousand different options, but 20 years ago music and TV-shows were everything you needed to follow a trend.

Now the industry gives us a few brands for shoes like Nike and Adidas, we can also see how a lot of shoes that almost died 10 years ago now are being revived. For sure we took notice of how skateboard brands didn't stop existing and that the board is what really is going to give you the style you want.

 

 

Spots to Skate

sk8 spot
Photo by Theal (Unsplash)

 

About spots we can say that a lot has changed since 2000. Like we see in the documentary Shangai 6, the skateboarding community in Shanghai 10 years ago was tiny and everyone knew each other, the streets were skateable and security guards weren't as hard to deal with as they are today.

But 20 years ago skateboarding were often close to being a crime in places like Barcelona, you were either running from the police or you got fined. Situations like these we could see around the world, but in some way this helped skaters to get their own specific places to skate. The skateparks came to "save the public space".

It's important to highlight that even with a thousand skateparks the street will always be part of skateboarding, and has been all the way from the 50s until now. Maybe to a skateboarder finding a spot is harder, but it is also a part of being creative and skating somewhere you never skated before.

Spots are part of the skaters performance, especially when you are recording a video part. Once you know how to skate, the street will be your biggest challenge and if the spot is great it will be unforgettable.

 

sk8 spot2
Photo by Abdulsamad Aliyu (Unsplash)



However, both are important to skate, you go to the skatepark, try what you need to try and then you go to the streets to make it on your first try (or second, or third), you record it and it will go to your video part. John Motta shared this advice during a talk about spots in an episode of the SHIT Podcast:

"The way that I've been skating for the last several years is just like, find the spot, figure out the trick you want to do on that spot, skate and test it out, mess around with it and then know you can do the trick or not," Motta then mentions that following this, he calls his friends and start to record.

 

 

Connections and Social Projects

sk8 community
Photo by Jared Tomasek (Unsplash)

Something special that has happened during the last 20 years is that thanks to all the nonprofits organizations, skateboarding have seen enormous development. Most of these projects brought this sport to those who never tried it before.

By now it is something normal, but before, teaching skateboarding was unimaginable, maybe because it's an individual practice but you understand through the years that it's a collective one too. The benefits that this sport provides a rider should be shared with others as well.

Skaters could be rude if they felt special and unique, but there were others that wanted to share their happiness and help you skate because they knew how much it is going to give to their lives and thanks to the connections and social projects so many people could try a skateboard for the first time.

 

 

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If you want to know more about these social projects all you need to do is click around on social media and you will see them and understand the reason why this way to connect has helped a lot of kids. We have talked about many of these projects in our magazine and we hope to meet more too.

Now, if we think about how skateboarding would be if we didn't have social media, all you need to do is look to the 2000s, back when things used to revolve around the skateboarder. If you wanted to know what was going on in other places, you needed to travel or wait for a friend to do it.

 

Sk8 community2
Photo by emrekan arik (Unsplash)



Furthermore, you knew the skateboarding situation thanks to those video formats, magazines and of course the stores that made it happen. They bought those important things, I vividly remember 10 years ago that if I needed to see something about skateboarding I had to go to the skate shop and watch the best skateboarding tapes and compilations they had there.

Skateboarding media is also evolving, because no one wants to buy a magazine as they can learn about their favorite skateboarders on Instagram. However, today media is adapting and we have found that we can be there and people can read what we write about or document in new formats as well.

And followers might define your work because those followers are people supporting your passion, that's why we see Tony Hawk with 6 million or Nyjah with 4, we can measure how popular skateboarding is right now and which skateboarders have made a mark on history too.

 

 

Skateboarding Contests

Contests have had its ups and downs since the beginning of skateboarding. Partially because of the more than 10 modalities and how they have changed. If we look at those 10 different skateboarding modalities we can say that just two world modalities have made us olympic. But if we were to name the modality that skateboarding popularity has benefited most from, it will without a doubt be Vert.

 

sk8 contest
Photo by Taylor Smith (Unsplash)


We remember X-Games as the biggest event, it got us on TV and brought us together to support our favorite competitors, girls had to fight for their place in competitions and vertical was still the biggest one during the 2000s.

Then we have Tampa AM and Tampa Pro, you needed to win a Tampa to remind the skateboarding community who the new pro was. And then brands started to make their own competitions like Vans Park Series, Red Bull, Dew Tour, Damn AM and so many more, most of them got a great reception from the community.

 

sk8 contest2
Photo by Taylor Smith (Unsplash)



Social media gave us the freedom to make whatever we want and amazing contests understood it, now we have all those predecessors and formats to compete and that are so close to knowing how to truly judge skateboarding, but could there be others ways to do it in the future as well?

There are so many things to talk about that we could go on forever. Feel free to leave a comment and tell us what you think are the biggest changes in these last 20 years of skateboardings evolution.

 

Read also: SHIT®️ PODCAST #10: Jordan Maxham

Read also: Documentary Review: The Tony Alva Story

   

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