You may not have seen the winning run from this year’s Tampa Pro, but you definitely saw this clip of Dan Mancina skating the course. Dan is blind, with a board on REAL, and he’s easily the most positive person I know. He’s also pretty funny, so to demonstrate both his skills and sense of humor, he sent us this skatepark edit that takes the viewer into Dan’s world.
People always say that if you lose one sense your others get heightened, and with Dan that seems to have allowed him to see skateparks like he’s mf-ing Neo in The Matrix, green Courier New font and all.
Check out Dan’s edit above and read our interview below, then go film a trick blindfolded. Preferably down your local Big Gap.
I didn’t know you’d gotten a fake eye. What’s that been like?
Yeah, my left eye is a prosthetic. The whole thing kind of grosses me out. I’m used to it but I don’t like to pop it out for party tricks or anything. It doesn’t hurt, pops out super easy, but popping it back in is kind of weird. There’s a full technique to it where you actually point your eye and stuff.
So you had a surgery to remove your left eyeball?
There’s a couple different ways to do it, where they take the entire eye out, or for me they just scooped the inside out and put a couple layers of tissue over it once they filled it with this little silicone ball. Then they put grooves on it so the outer eye muscles are still attached and there’s better movement than if they were to take the entire eye out.
The surgery was gnarly. I was out for days in bed not moving. I’m eventually gonna have to do my other eye too so I’m not stoked on that.
Does your prosthetic eye ever fall out?
It did one time. I was rubbing my eye super gnarly and it popped out at dinner. I was with my girl and my son was like, “Oh my god, oh my god!” It just fucking hit the table like “tink, tink tink.” Like, that was my fucking eye.
Since we last talked you’ve kinda become an instructor for blind and visually impaired skateboarders. What’s it like introducing skating to blind kids?
It’s cool because the disabled tend to not have as many opportunities as the sighted world. So it’s cool for them to get to experience skateboarding, because a lot of them for the most part wouldn’t. And the parents are always super stoked too.
The last time was awesome because almost all of them were super into it. One girl was screaming, “I love skateboarding!”
People think it’s so crazy and gnarly but it’s pretty chill when you’re first learning. A lot of kids who are vision impaired and blind, some of them are sheltered and some have no interest at all, like they don’t even want to come. So it’s good when you find one who is kind of over it, and by the end they are super stoked on it. You hope that happens more throughout their life, they are more down to try something else.
I know you’re planning to build a skatepark for the visually impaired. What kind of obstacles would be more accommodating to blind skaters?
Number one, most of the kids haven’t skated before, so a lot of the time is spent in an open room that has a sort of padded ground so you’re not gonna roll out or anything. Then the actual skatepark itself would be more for those who have low or limited vision. It would have contrast, so dark objects or obstacles on a light ground, and then lights within objects. So the coping or the edge of a ledge would have LED lights embedded in it so it’s easier to pick up.
Tactile ground is something I have messed around with a little bit. Whether it would be putting something on the ground like grip tape or some kind of thin carpet. The park in the beginning is going to be a work in progress, figuring out what the best methods are. Small ramps to roll in on which would have a handrail along the side that you could hold on to. And then obviously some cooler shit for me too.
The other main thing is the size of the objects. A manny pad is going to have to be really long and really wide so you have more room for error. The hardest thing to do is just stay straight. Same thing with the quarter pipe, it would be a really long quarter pipe, like along an entire wall. And then auditory stuff, speakers within objects at the beginning, middle and end of the ledge, that should help with your coordination.
The speakers would be emitting beeps?
Either that or some Slayer, whatever you want. The ideal thing would be able to do music or something more entertaining than just a beeping sound.
Or something motivational, like the audio of Mark Gonzales saying, “Bout’ to attack this double set, yo!”
Who’s idea was it to have you ollie over your friend?
It’s always been something I’ve entertained, ollieing over somebody, but I wasn’t that hyped on it. I landed on him, I don’t know if that clip’s in there. I landed right on his hand. There was a kingpin mark indented right in his knuckle.
Would you ever wanna pimp out your cane with gold or diamonds?
No, I throw my stickers on there. If you wanna get on the cane that’s gonna cost you. If we’re talking on the cane 24/7 then we need the contract.
How much would a company have to pay to get their sticker on your cane? $10,000 a month?
Dude for on the cane full advertising? $10,000 sounds good. I’d do it for $10,000.
How did you get hooked up with REAL in the first place?
I just sent a clip to Jim [Thiebaud]. I hit him up on Insta. I sent him a little clip where I dropped in on this bank with a pipe sticking out. He reached back and sent me a couple boards and that was huge. That was honestly pretty life changing. Just getting two boards and being like, “Damn, there’s a little bit of validation, that’s what I needed.”
From there I mentioned that I wanted to do a raised braille board and Jim was fully down. It was over a year of slowly making that board. Braille can be a bitch, especially when you are going between so many different people who don’t read braille and then trying to go back to people who do read braille, and then it’s all photographs.
Your board has that carving on the bottom so you can tell which side is the nose just by feeling it. What else could be done to make skateboards more useful for visually impaired people?
The nose thing is huge. I started by putting a sticker under my wheel well and that turned into rolling up a little piece of paper and putting it underneath my grip, right under my nose. You could always do some kind a beeper on there. Because when I lose my board, especially when I’m by myself, I’ll sit there for five minutes looking for it. But I’m not a big fan of technology stuff, anything with a battery or some crap like that. Seems kind of weird but that would definitely be something that would be practical and helpful.
Did you use any beepers when you were filming your last video part?
I use like LED lights with that little bit of vision I had. I think there’s one clip I had where I clipped them on a bench, which helped guide me. But since then I’ve lost more sight so I don’t have that little bit to help me. Actually this new Jenkem edit, I used zero vision for this one. I kind of touch the objects sometimes with my other hand. I probably go a little bit slower too.
I know you’ve wanted to skate a street handrail blind. Have you hit any street rails yet?
I skated a small skatepark hubba and handrail, but nothing I would consider a rail yet. It seems gnarlier and gnarlier the more experience I have skating and being blind. Every time I go at something I’m always at a slightly different angle. There’s no consistency in where I’m at when I get in, so that’s the hardest part about skating blind. There’s no fucking consistency, and that’s terrifying for a rail.
There’s definitely a rail out there though, just waiting for that right time. I’ve been more into the manuals lately. I had never done that kickflip manny when I was sighted so I was hyped on that. That stuff always gets me geeked, doing something I didn’t do when I was sighted, like an actual new trick.
If you found the right street handrail, what trick would you try?
It would probably be a front board. Maybe a front 50-50. I’m thinking front board is gonna be the safest bet ’cause you don’t have to lock into the rail fully when you’re getting used to how long it is.
Since you have over 100k Instagram followers, do you ever hit up brands outside of skating just to ask for free stuff? Like tell them you’re an influencer and get free cases of iced coffee or something?
I’ve tried to reach out to a cane company but I didn’t get a response. I need a fucking cane sponsor. They are expensive and I’m breaking them. People hit me up sometimes, there’s a lot of brands out there for the vision impaired, but unless it’s something I’m actually stoked on I just tell them I’m all set on sponsors.
I like waiting for that serious sponsor. I want that contract. I’m trying to hold out and wait, just ride for shit I’m hyped on. I want that Weedmaps. It’s legal in Michigan now so I should be the advocate out here. I’m down, I love the CBD.
I’ve tried CBD in coffee but I’m not sold on it.
I would recommend the muscle rub. If you’ve got something going on, rub it on there. Or before you go to bed take just the CBD oil.
Do you think I could use the CBD oil to jack off?
I wonder if that would relax you, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a lubricant.
But it’s oil, right?
I guess. The rub I have is like an icy hot so you’re definitely not gonna want to use that. That’s gonna get wild.