To the average Joe, skateboarding is like magic. You must remember the first time you saw someone ollie…it’s mind bending. Trying to understand how they lifted the board up and over the curb, only to keep cruising on the sidewalk like nothing even happened. That’s what made you wanna skate – you wanted to be the magician. There is one trick that even to skateboarders still encapsulates the magic that made us all want to skate in the first place: the no-comply. It’s a trick that’s as much about style as it is about skill, and when done properly, it’s truly baffling.
To avoid the inevitable backlash of skateboarding know-it-alls telling me whom I forgot to mention, the list I have compiled below is a list of my personal favorites, as attempting to quantify “the best no-complies ever done” would be impossible. Enjoy, comrades.
Ray Barbee, Can’t Stop (2003)
Now I know I just said that this is a list of my favorites, but Ray actually is the best. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. Ray is a skateboarder’s skateboarder: trick selection, style, and you always get the sense that even when he does something really gnarly he’s having the best time doing it. To me, this dude sums up what it means to be a skateboarder. Now with a career as long and prolific as Ray’s there’s a lot of damn good no-complies to choose from, but I’m going with his ender from The Firm’s classic Can’t Stop. Not every ender has to be the gnarliest, most death defying stunt you could think of; Ray just pops a straight and clean no-comply at the L.A. River banks and just floats away…the perfect ending to a perfect part.
Kevin Terpening, HUF Texas Tour (2013)
If Ray Barbee is Obi Wan Kenobi, then Terps is skateboarding’s Luke Skywalker. He’s been taking the no-comply to all new heights and and on a tour through Texas with the HUF team, he turned it all the way up to eleven. The bump to bar no-comply is as proper and gnarly as they come, and for a dude still in the beginning of his pro career. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.
Gonz, Real to Reel (2001)
I sincerely believe this video part should be studied in film schools. There’s a million things you could pick and choose about this part that are on a level beyond just rad skateboarding. Gonz’s no-comply off the parking block goes by so quickly you might not even notice how fucking insane it actually is. It’s by definition backside…but without turning his body. I urge you to try this. You’ll get fucking smoked. We’re talking about crossing your legs full speed while popping off the block. Even if you do succeed in landing this, there’s literally no way you could do it with the grace and style that Gonz did. But I doubt you really landed it anyway.
Ocean Howell, I-Path Summer Preview (2005)
I’m not blind to how long Ocean Howell has been around for. The dude’s been ripping forever and has one of the most significant styles in skateboarding’s history. But there was something about the all no-comply line in I-Path’s 2005 promo that had a major impact on me. The no-comply 180 revert big spin (fucking mouthful!) is an unparalleled demonstration of board control, only to be followed by a slew of other no-comply variations that are as stylish as they are difficult. It looks like they just filmed him on his way to the grocery store, casually destroying the streets before picking up a gallon of milk.
Pontus Alv, Spring Cleaning with Mental Case Pontus Alv (2013)
Pontus has always had a unique vision of skateboarding, and I don’t think it was fully appreciated until Polar came around. No-Complies & Wallrides+shuvits is not only a great watch, it’s literally the definition of what Pontus and Polar are all about. That being said it can be difficult choosing your favorite no-comply by this guy, as there’s literally thousands to choose from. Check this one for example. I went with Spring Cleaning With Mental Case Pontus Alv because no matter what the dude puts out, it makes me wanna go skate, whether it’s a full part or him just fucking around in an iPhone edit. For anyone that is still wondering how to do this trick, put this in slo-mo a couple times and watch closely. Dude probably has the meanest no-comply in the game right now.
Mike Rusczyk, That’s Life (2004)
For me to say this dude was slept on would be a major understatement. People were like comatose on this dude. Rusczyk had style, a unique trick selection, and always skated to good music. Even post Art Bars when Foundation moved to gnarlier rails and big sets, Mike still came through with the feel good parts. His line at Three Up Three Down was so sick: backside shifty, no-comply 180 up the three, and then switch frontside flip down. Only someone with a real mastery of the no-comply could understand how he snapped up at that three stair so fast and without clipping. Mike, if you’re out there…won’t you come back to skateboarding? We miss you.
Louie Barletta, Bonus Round (2009)
Louie’s skating, like his haircut, is fucking timeless. The dude has pretty much never slowed down since he’s been in the spotlight and all you can really expect from a Louie part is the unexpected. I think every person on the face of the earth wishes they could skate like Louie. Board control, style, and being the dude having the most fun is always what sets Louie apart from everyone else. There are plenty of Louie no-complies to choose from, but I’m going with the 360 no-comply down the stair set in Bonus Round. And when you whiny babies complain that it’s “only a four stair” I suggest you go and try this and you can tell me all about how you broke your ankle.
Jake Johnson, Thrasher Firing Line (2013)
Like Terps, Jake has taken the lessons of his skate forefathers before him and used this knowledge to keep real street skateboarding alive. Everybody and their mother has seen this firing line on Thrasher and I think it’s pretty clearly the best one. The no-comply 5-0 probably would have become a trend if anyone else could actually do it. Despite the loss of Alien Workshop (R.I.P.) I’m confident Jake will get picked up by somebody who can appreciate his style, and maybe that somebody is already on this list? Special shout out to Jake trying to handstand finger flip at the end of this firing line…too sick.
Sage Elsesser, Cherry (2014)
I knew nothing of Sage Elsesser before Cherry, but I can say with confidence that I was an instant fan. Style, power, and an affinity for east coast tricks was all it took for me to be sold on this dude’s skating. The no-comply I’m talking about here is one of the first tricks in the video and the clip is so quick you might not be able to catch how fucked up it is. Sage goes off a minuscule bump straight over a New York trash can with the finesse of a skate veteran. And for a dude who’s not even old enough to buy cigarettes yet, I think it’s easy to see that this guy is gonna have a very bright future in skateboarding.
Wes Kremer, Real Street (2014)
Holy shit, Wes Kremer. I could pretty much end the write up for this dude right there. Is there anything this dude can’t do? Kremer’s Real Street part opens with a barrage of no-comply tricks totally beyond human comprehension. Kremer is smoother than silk and never disappoints. I wanna just break down the last trick in his first line: no-comply frontside flip up a four stair. Can anyone confirm this as NBD? I think “face-melter” is probably the only way to describe this trick. Dude should win this contest, hands down.