I can’t speak for Europe, or the rest of the world for that matter but growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in the UK, I can tell you that we Brits had a love affair with Australian produced television shows. Kids favourites like Pugwall’s Summer or Round the Twist to daytime favourites such as Neighbours, Home and Away and even Prisoner Cell Block H. One that captured both the hearts and minds of 90’s rollerbladers was coming of age, teen school drama, Heartbreak High, set in Sydney.
Reflecting back on it some 20 years later, I think what really caught our imagination was the amazing weather, the exotic wildlife, the idea of a different way of life, a more laid back lifestyle with long evenings and lots of opportunities to go skating along the beach or on one of Australia’s famous half-pipes. I would watch every week for that chance, that rare chance that some skating would be featured. There were quite a few rollerbladers featured but two main characters in particular really stood out, Bolton and Drazic. Watch the clip below (Dubbed in French) but you will get the idea. Enjoy the high octane race, the wallride, the grind, stairbashing, airs and the vintage Oxygen Argon setup.
How does any of this relate to the Joe Atkinson x Sydney VOD? Well, this new video captures the true spirit of Australia, rollerblading in its many facets and the unstoppable force that is Joe Atkinson. Dom West is one of rollerblading’s finest filmmakers and he really needs no introduction here, especially to those that have seen his older works, both chapters of Vine Street as well as anything else from his back catalogue. Just in case, for those who may not have heard of him and are perhaps new to the scene let me tell you that he is one of the best in the game and all of his videos are waited on with great anticipation and impatience.
Joe Atkinson is a diamond in the rough of rollerblading and there are not many like him in every generation. His personality shines throughout this video, his pure focus and dedication to the tricks are so clear to see but we also see him having fun and celebrating landing the hammers, we feel these moments with him. What we really need to talk about is the level of skating itself. Watching this video you can see every era of rollerblading covered. Joe skates big rails with solid, basic but super stylish tricks, I imagine B Love Hardin or Arlo Eisenberg in the Hoax 2 90’s era but then he also looks at the architecture around him and rolls the way he wants to, so he is undefinable in that sense. You can see the early to mid 2000’s influences, i’m thinking about Oli Short or even Charles Dunkle, ‘anything goes’ type rollerblading, completely care free of what anyone might think of it, pushing and challenging himself. I also see the last few years; I see the innovation of a skater like Dustin Werbeski, the pure control of Jeff Stockwell and combined with the high flying altitude of Australia’s very own CJ Wellsmore – very good company indeed. That is not including some absolutely monsterous tricks that come straight out of the Mindgame era. This section shows just how well rounded Joe is and if I really wanted to show an outside audience the definition of what blading looks like in the year 2017, this would be my prime example.
The video runs to just over 5 minutes, 3 minutes for the main part and then a couple of minutes of outtakes (with some amazing tricks too – that toyale!) and funny stuff that happened during the course of production. Speaking of production, this is one of the finest pieces of blading media I have ever seen. High definition, very sharp with what seems to be a range of cameras and lenses used (I am no expert in this field, but I call it as I see it). Dom captures that feeling of big city life (down under) exquisitely. You will see tall buildings, narrow alleyways, quirky Ozzie characters and even a kangaroo sitting under a washing up line, no questions asked! The tricks themselves are filmed really well, nice framing and a mixture of long shots, close ups and fish eye too, Dom really knows the right angle for a certain trick or spot and combined with Joe’s skating it all comes together really well. What is funny to me is that I really get a sense that Joe is a stranger in the city, there is something different about him, onlookers are watching him closely, befuddled and amused alike. The music perfectly accompanies the skating too, classic, chilled but nicely timed and the lyrics match occasionally with what we see on screen, well played Dom West.
Bonus video – Suited and Booted. By Dom West and featuring Joe Atkinson.
In summary, Joe Atkinson x Sydney is a must watch video. Superb no nonsense skating combined with one of the true masters of rollerblading film-making. With content like this the future of video on demand is bright. Head over to dom-west.com to buy the full video.
PS. Did anyone else notice the sound in the video? Each of Joe’s landings sounded amazing, the mixture of a good sound capturing microphone, mixed with a solid wheel, frame and skate setup (go #teamsalomon). Also for the blade tech/Salomon fans you get a shot of Joe setting up some blades which was interesting. Also worth noting is that for the most part he seems to use a cut down widebody but just on one skate combined with cream ST9’s, big frames and his 65mm pro wheel. Please feel free to leave any comments on this article and thanks for taking the time to read it. NH.