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WhatIsWhat 1.0 2003

Steppin' Roll : The Upside of Winter Street Sessions

bill shannon  winter streets

ABOVE: Streets of Manhattan Winter

The crisp light and air of a dry northeastern winter's day beckons me to don all manner of warm clothing and partake of all manner of painkillers and break out into the streets for a deep session of the dancing and skating hybrid I have dubbed Steppin' Roll.  I truly appreciate the onset of winter because it frees the streets of laggard indecisive pedestrians, recreational skaters or bicyclist and gawkers. In the gift that is winter most pedestrians in the street are trudging in a straight line hurriedly often running to just get back to their warmth and cover. The bikers on the street at say, 15 degrees Fahrenheit, are almost all very experienced and there are veritably no street skaters out. The frigid days of winter also keeps people in their vehicles behind glass eliminating the habit of spewing some unintelligible crap from the open window that would, during summer, sneak into my flow just under my headphone volume level to inform me of their presence.

This change in the social landscape of the street is for me a welcome change of pace. While I do enjoy the summer sessions more than winter what I get in exchange for the loss of comfort and ease of summer does not go unappreciated. In the greater absence of micro-scale sociological interactions with random pedestrians, spatial and time based relationships to buildings, light and shadow, vehicles ( en mass as bodies of traffic ) and expanses of pavement become more iconic. Often I find I am the lone human presence in a stark paved expanse where other humans in sight are behind glass.. muted. To me they are the fishbowl.  The gear I don in winter keeps me warm, often too warm given the physical demands of the form. The layers of clothing also feel like a layer of pads not present in the summer. My armpits feel the pain less giving way to more demanding physical dance sessions off of the board. The padding extends glides and gives power moves a bulky dullness that lends the style to broader gestures. All the layers also become a psychological safety net for a decidedly physical increase of speed.

bill shannon winter streets

ABOVE: Rolling No Footer +  tongue grimace Manhattan

Winter skating is definitely faster. The surface of pavement gets harder in the winter. The hardness makes the pavement noticeably glassier. The urethane in the skateboard wheel gets harder as well.  This also ads a significant degree of additional speed. Wind in the winter can whistle like no other season and when in the right direction, pushing at my back, makes what was a strong push with the crutch seemingly superhuman. All of these factors combine with relatively abandoned streets to create conditions for very fast moments. In past seasons I have had events that have had my heart in my throat without realizing it till I was in it. Salt depositories or the odd frozen puddle of a spilled liquid are other hazards I have encountered specific to winter.

So with that, dear reader, I look out the window to see its still too snowy to hit the streets just yet.  I write these words in anticipation of that dry crisp January day. That day when everything falls into place time wise, the headphones and goggles and hat and layers are donned, the multiple layers of wool socks squeezed into the shoes and lastly but not leastly the beats hit the ears and the urethane hits the pavement.  When the snow melts, and after a few days when the massive salt piles and gravel bits are swept to the side, keep an eye out for me cause Im rollin.