Darkslides are often the first trick we learn to love and then the first we learn to hate. To beginners they are the most astounding thing and seem to be the absolute highest achievement in skateboarding. As a skater matures, however, and they learn what style means and how certain things are beautiful and how certain things from their youth are shameful, they then dismiss the darkslide. It becomes the embarrassing infant plaything, locked up and hidden away.
Then, after many years, the skateboarder starts to feel assured in themselves and their own style: they can look into the old closet and not be embarrassed by what they find. Here they’ve buried the old raggedy-andy, Mr. Darkslide. They take out the old toy, still reeking of puberty, and try airing it in the light of day. More and more pros are taking out the “old kook’s badge” – and turning it in to a new and respected trick. Here are ten great grip grinds young and old to celebrate the resurgence. “Hello darkness my old friend…”
10. Gou Miyagi – Video Nasty
This trick by Gou Miyagi almost makes me mad. It toes the line between parkour silliness and the cheesiest regions of skating, becoming something very close to the trick of a skate-jester. But when I take a moment to think about just how absurd and dangerous it is to run up a rail and drop a board down onto it in darkslide position – facing backwards… then I can’t begin to mutter a complaint. I hold my tongue and remove my hat in reverence for this this gnarly, silly trick.
9. Chris Haslam – Five Incher
Chris Haslam can be counted on to produce streams of never-been-done’s in every new video he drops. It was only a matter of time before the darkslide was wrangled into his regime of progress and made to fill a new role. Here he takes the move to transition, laughing in the face of bowl barneys and freestyle nerds who had never before dreamed of melding the two cultures.
8. Jason Park – Friendship Part
While we’re on the topic of melding, I’ll also mention Jason Park, who combined darkslides and wallrides in his Friendship part. I didn’t think I’d see that trick in my lifetime – especially considering the divide between core-guy wallride culture and darkslide culture. Then again, it seems that America is becoming more tolerant of various cultures blending. Perhaps this is because of people like Jason. Perhaps this darkslide wallride is one step toward the heavenly day to come, when vert brothers and street brothers and freestyle brothers will skate hand in hand on boards facing the wrong way up.
7. Anders Nordlow – Darkslide of the Moon
The skate world is now so wide and so deep that if you search for an “all darkslides part,” you can find one. The part is called “Darkslide of the Moon” and was released in late 2014 by Anders Nordlow. I can only wonder what pushes someone to make a part like this, to use the only part of the board that shouldn’t be used, that is specifically meant to provide traction, and that has no tail or nose to work with. It is good to see such commitment to impossible ends, and I like everything about this dumb, heroic part.
6. Wes Kremer- Crusty by Nature
Wes Kremer seems to live as a stoned monk, keeping his mind and body free with weed so that he can skate more freely. In his new part, he lands a darkslide on a tall rail that looks to be made from rocks. He’s so nonchalant about it that it almost seems as if the trick is a joke, like an ironic benihana. But this joke landed on the cover of Transworld, and for most of us, people laugh at our skating, and not with it. Alas we can’t all be SOTY.
5. Geoff Rowley – Sorry
Geoff Rowley resurrected the darkslide from the depths of uncool tech-ery to something both graceful and wild. It was his signature trick on the old Tony Hawk video games, and it was all his own for a while. The half heel flip in, the off-set foot placement, the close your eyes and hope it flips back over landing. No apologies necessary, Geoff.
4. Mike Patterson – We Are Blood
This trick makes no sense at all. Nothing about it is possible. His feet land in between the two trucks, while his griptape slides against a sizeable rail, and all this he does frontside. My friends and I screamed when first seeing this, as apes before the first fire. Sometimes you see a trick and just have to ask, “What does life mean?”
3. Branson Chubbuck – Triple Kink Darkslide
This darkslide made number 3 because it’s done by a relative unknown, and because this Joe looks – while in the darkslide position – to be riding a raging bull. At every moment the rail threatens to buck off Branson Chubbuck, and yet somehow he holds on. At the end he tells us that the trick is a Daewon Song tribute, which is, I think, a funny and beautiful gesture. In response I say now that this list is for you Branson Chubbuck.
2. Mark Gonzales – Video Days
The way things seem to go is that Rodney invents the tricks and then Gonz finds a way to make them look more dancerly. I admire both of their approaches and as I get older seem to like Rodney’s clunky motions more and more. Nonetheless I think this is one of the prettiest dark slides ever done because of its smoothness and because of Mark’s fleet feet.
1. Rodney Mullen – Virtual Reality
I wish I knew the story behind this darkslide. Something about the shot says to me “one against the world.” It’s Rodney Mullen wearing a yellow shirt, lit at night by car headlights, sliding down a large hubba on the wrong side of his board. After he lands the trick, the video shows his tribute to his deceased mother, “I Love you mom.” It is a moving rendition by the father of all tricks.