Rollerblading needed that opening riff of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” in Corey Casey’s Under The Influence section in 2000. The sport was going through something of an identity crisis: “Athlete or artist?;” “Feedom of feet;” “no skateboarder will ever do that rail;” the whole Brain Fear Gone post-credits rant that was coming in the next year. The sport was maturing and, sometimes awkwardly, establishing its own identity. Often that took the form of comparing rollerblading to something else.
It’s significant that Under The Influence opened with a montage establishing rollerblading as a sport with its own legacy, following up iconic clips from our past with their then-modern equivalents. In almost every way, the video felt like the arrival of a new era of rollerbladers who were, for the first time, influenced by their own history. The editing and videography by Drew Bachrach felt immediately fresh. BJ Burnhardt’s brain-melter of an ender changed the scale of what obstacles were considered skateable. But what stood out most to me (other than the handful of Jon Elliott clips scattered throughout), was the Corey Casey section.
The section is probably one of the more successful “narrative sections” rollerblading ever released. Casey stumbles through attempts at surfing and skateboarding before finding his true passion in a pair of K2s spotted from a distance. The story works because of its simplicity. There’s a less generous way to read this as Casey chasing trends, but I never saw it that way. To me, this was about the first generation of skaters who weren’t mimicking moves from some other sport. There was a liberation in his discovery of rollerblading. The tricks he does when the real section finally kicks in are uniquely inline tricks (the opener: a grabbed mono-roll to stale 180 linked to a super narrow ledge roll drop ledge roll).
Plus, it all felt fun and looked cool as hell (anyone else grow out their hair, start wearing ¾ sleeves and trucker caps immediately after picking up this VHS?). Rock n’ roll in rollerblading made a resurgence in the months and years that followed, and most would attribute that to Elliott and Shima. But Corey Casey will always be the original rebel to me.
Bonus: The opening montage