In the wake of SOL Crew’s new video trailer scaring up some controversy over what should and should not be permissible in rollerblading, ONE contributor Adam Morris spoke with SOL’s own Todd McInerney, as well as legendary innovator Dustin Latimer, to get a handle on what the act of mushroom blading is all about, and thoughts on its evolution. Then SOL’s Joey McGarry put together a video edit with bootlegged VHS clips to show examples of ‘shroomy tricks from our sport’s early days that have influenced how people today roll. The edit is below and the story inside—check them out!
Mushroom blading is alive, well and as polarizing as ever. Case in point: The teaser for the SOL crew’s next video, “Mushroom Blading.” It set the Internet afire with comments like these at Rollernews.com:
“these guys make rollerblading look so gay that it’s already cool again!”
“Amazingly bad and not even in a funny way.”
“that was the most creative skating ive ever seen”
“chill with that crap, your making us look like shit. go big or go home, this isnt figure skating.”
Amid the knee-jerk reactions, it’s easy to forget where mushroom blading began and where it has taken skating.
The phrase “mushroom blading” surfaced in the late 1990s or very early 2000s. At first blush, it seems to invoke the result of skating while on a mind-altering substance — the world looks different, you see the unseen. Of course, the drugs aren’t necessary or suggested. An open mind is.
“Mushroom blading is exploring new ideas no matter how silly or strange or awkward they may seem at first,” Todd McInerney of the SOL crew says. “It is letting go of self-consciousness, preconceived ideas of what constitutes ‘good skating,’ and fear of shit talkers. It is making a conscious decision to develop strange skills without knowing exactly where they will take you.”
Mushroom blading’s avant-garde nature makes it hard to define. But you know it when you see it. Here’s what it is: Unconventional. Here’s what it isn’t: Skating the traditional rail, ledge or gap in a traditional way.
“It’s not a definitive name for a definitive style of skating,” says retired pro Dustin Latimer. “It’s a way to veer from the traditional spin, lock on, spin off tricks.”
Nick Riggle and his former PELD crew (including Erik and Mike Burke and Mike Choley) were among mushroom blading’s early purveyors. Undoubtedly, there were others. Here’s how Riggle described the essence of his skating to Daily Bread Magazine back in 2003: “I have always tried to look at skating with new eyes. Nearly every time I go rolling, I look at things in a different way, or I deliberately search for things that haven’t been skated. I don’t do this just to be different; this way of skating is the most pleasing to me. This way, rolling becomes much more than a physically engaging sport; it becomes a mental exercise, maybe even an artistic pursuit.”
There are many brands of mushroom blading. The SOL crew, with its wacky antics, is at the extreme end. But mushroom blading doesn’t have to be blading’s ballet (as some would disparagingly call it). Some of the most innovative and influential skaters have been fueled by mushroom blading. Take Latimer, Charles Dunkle, Oli Short and Rory Melehan. They’ve mingled mushroom style with traditional tricks — and drawn far less criticism for it.
“It’s the whole thing where it doesn’t seem like it’s pushing the sport when people do small, little creative things,” Latimer says. “Just starting and learning, you can do the small things and you can show it’s possible, but you have to perfect the tricks you’ve learned and show the potential. People don’t really do that very often. … It’s like, that was cool, but you should have pushed it.” — Adam Morris
Vintage Mushroom Blading Clips Edit by Joey McGarry