by Mel Blackwood @roller_girl_gang
Hiya! It’s Mel from Roller Girl Gang here. Roller Girl Gang is based in Leeds, UK. We have a pro shop, offering a carefully curated choice of roller skates and accessories, (including tricky-to-get products this side of the Atlantic) as well as run events and classes.
I’m also the Skate Love team member who has been liaising with the amazing masterclass and workshop teachers all heading to Skate Love BCN.
Ahead of the festival, I’ve been able to catch up with some of them.
Meet James Rich aka BuckWild. James is an OG Venice Beach skater and has skated and performed all over the world.
He also has been working to improve roller dance through equipment, and partnered with GH Skates - there is a surprise in the video!
Please enjoy his story, it's inspirational.
The Evolution of Skating is available from bookshops now.
James Rich about roller skating:
Inspired me, like love should, it's given me a whole new outlook on life, like love should, and it has touched my heart. As well as giving me the ability to touch others' hearts.
And that's what love truly is, not to just have it for yourself, but to have it for everyone around you.
Mel : Hi James, thank you for joining me today, we are in quite a big time difference, you're in sunny California and I am in the rainy UK, but it's al good. Can we start by introducing you? In case anyone hasn't heard of you (though they really should have done by now!)
James: That's why I am bringing this up here. [lifts t-shirt towards camera to show BW logo]. They call me Jimmy Rich aka Buck Wild.
I'm an OG Venice Beach skater, I have been skating at Venice since 1980-81. I have skated all over the world, TV, movies, commercials, the whole nine yards. I am one of the principals in the movie Roller Dreams, this will be my second time teaching at Skate Love Barcelona and I am so excited.
Amazing! So you just touched on some of your history there, about how long you have been roller skating and the kinds of things you have been doing. Please tell us more!
What made you start? Do you remember when you started?
It's an amazing story which you can read in the book 'The Evolution of Skate', which is available on Amazon where I am a number 1 bestselling author. There are 25 authors in the book and I am one of the chapters called 'Becoming Buck Wild', so go ahead and get that book. You cam find it on my website ShopBuckwild.com
I started when I was about 17 years old. Actually, I started when I was about 14. I played hockey in garages on Street King, those metal skates that left sparks all over the place when I was a kid. Then I stopped for a little while got into other things, and went through school. Then I went to Venice Beach one day and I was actually in the water, boogie boarding. I came around a turn and I heard this music. I love music, I've been in choir since I was about 3 or 4 years of age, all the way through college. And I head this music. I just gravitated towards it naturally. All of a sudden I see these skaters, I see Mad, and Kyle and Sean, you know. All these guys just out there having a ball on skates. I also had a camera with me. I had a camera everywhere I went at that time, I love photography (I'm a film school graduate) and I started taking pictures of them. And as I was taking pictures, I was saying to my friend next to me "Wow look at this, this is amazing. I want to do this so bad!" I had no skates at that time. So I talked about it all the way home on the bus ride home, and he got tired of me talking about it. He comes out of the bedroom with a pair of skates. Big yellow wheels, yellow stripes on the wide and blue suede. I put them on and they fit like a glove like it was meant to be. So the next day, it was a Sunday. [Back at Venice Beach] I put the skates on, and I step out onto the - concrete and go - whoop, bam! And I hit the deck. And I sat there for a minute and thought, do I want to do this. But I had always been a determined individual - I'm never going to let anything beat me. Mad and all of them came over and said "Are you alright?" picked me up and history was made at that point on. I couldn't stop. I fell in love with it from that first day. Even not being able to skate! I wasn't so much getting attention in the school I was at, and all of a sudden this attention started coming to me. It felt really good to be admired for something. Even though I wasn't any good at it, people admired us for being out there and even trying on this 'dangerous' pair of skates, to have a lot of fun. And it just grew from there.
Skating as much as I possibly could, I moved down to Venice. I lived about 500 feet away from the skate plaza, which at that time was a skate alley, a nice little pathway you could skate on, they hadn't built anything for us. I just kept going. Mad and Terrell and Kyle and Sean and all my other skate OGs, I guess you could call them now, welcomed me. We started working together and learning more moves and making choreography. And...history.
Wow! I can feel the passion in your story. It's so inspiring. And I hope anyone watching thinks, "Yes I want to do that, I am completely inspired by that. I am going to get some skates right now and get started."
It will change your life. It's one of those things that you don't have to be competitive to do, like basketball, baseball, football, all those sports out there. You don't need anyone else to do it. You can put in some ear plugs, ear buds, turn on some music and just let the world go for a little while, while you exercise. If you do something long enough, you are going to get good at it. I apply it to everything in my life.
When it comes to film making, when it comes to cooking, when it comes to anything else I do, the more I do it the better I get. And skating taught me that.
What an important life lesson. And such an important lesson we can learn if we choose to take that?
You will fall in love with it. It will become and has probably remained, my best love. I've had girlfriends, I've had all that and I've fallen in love, but nothing like this. It's hurt me, like a love. Inspired me, like your love should, it's given me a whole new outlook on life, like love should, and it has touched my heart. As well as giving me the ability to touch others' hearts.
And that's what love truly is, not to just have it for yourself, but to have it for everyone around you.
Thank you so much James, this is such a special moment! Thank you for sharing this.
So I guess throughout your career you have attended a lot of big skate events?
Well, it's funny, as I have skated all over the world in a lot of big rinks, but Barcelona was one of my biggest last year. TV, movies, commercials, those are events for me, because I am preforming for a large audience. As far as going to big skate events, usually it's rinks and things like that, but I haven't been to too many large skate events. Venice Beach has been one of the biggest events in history. One of the largest tourist attractions in the world. People from all over the world come and skate in Venice. it's hard to leave that place for me. When I travel, it's usually because someone has hired me to travel to their country. It could be Asia, India, wherever. I usually go to those place because I have been hired to go. Skate Love Barcelona was one of the first events that I just decided to go to. Of course I was teaching. But once this boom of skating came back, now it never left, don't get me wrong, but it really kicked in because of social media and that sort of thing. I started seeing all the people around the world and I wanted to meet some of them.
I wanted to be in an atmosphere that was friendly, kind and joyful. I went to Skate Love Barcelona and I am so glad that I did.
Throughout the years I didn't know how popular I was. I knew that people knew me, especially people had seen me skating at Venice. People that didn't skate at all because back in the 80s 90s, people watched it in Venice, but I didn't know how many people were actually doing it, except when I went to rinks. But once social media blew it up, once outdoor sports were forced, things like that showed how many people were out there doing it. It was in the outdoor arena. And that's when I realised wow this is really getting big.
And when I came to Skate Love Barcelona, the love that I got from the class, how packed it was, I didn't know that so many people knew who I was. And that wasn't what I was going for - popularity - but it felt really good to know that people respected me for the craft that I have.
Absolutely! And I think it's something we talk about a lot is that we need to give back to the community who paved the way before us. And show people the respect. And the creators of how this [roller dance] has come to be. You've been inspired by some of the moves you've done and shared on Instagram and then we have taken some of those moves and crafted our own versions of some of those things. It's really important in our sessions and classes that we always say this move came from James' video on YouTube, and you can find it here, because that was the inspiration. That's so important.
Absolutely. It's an each one teach one type of situation. Skating is not something you should hoard for only your crew, we have to spread this love.
Yep! So that leads us beautifully into this year, and what you are going to be teaching at the festival.
So one of the things I like to do with my choreography, is I very rarely take a piece of choreography and teach it to someone else. Each piece of choreography I do, and I have hundreds of pieces, are unique to every individual that I am skating with. And one of the things that I like to teach people more than anything is not how to 'do' choreography, but how to create it. Because it's really taking a bunch of the moves that you already know, putting them into one piece. The style and sequence that you want to put them in. I will be teaching ' How to create a choreographed piece'. Everybody that will be at the class will be a part of the choreography. And that piece will be unique to us. It will be ours.
That's such a special thing. I hope a lot of people will attend that, as that workshop will be in the SkateLand. So many people have the opportunity to attend, they just need to get up and get there!
You want to be there, trust me! You will learn some things about yourself that you didn't know you had!
We need to be there! Definitely!
For someone who has never been to Skate Love before, is there a tip or advice you would like to pass on?
When you get on the plane, get on the plane with your carry-on as your skates. Never put your skates in your luggage that goes in the under part of the plane, because there are a lot of times your luggage gets lost, and you will be upset if you get to Skate Love Barcelona and you don't have any skates. Carry your skates with you, on your backpack. You can buy more clothes, more toiletries, all that other stuff. But one thing you probably won't be able to buy at Skate Love BCN is more skates. They may have a skate shop, but no one wants to skate in a brand-new pair of skates they are uncomfortable with. You want your skates, so make sure you take them on the plane as a carry on.
Yes, that is excellent advice, thank you James! What.... er, oops, start again.
Have you got a preferred pair of skates that you use?
I have several different pairs of skates. Riedell is a good boot for me. I am going to be releasing a new skate at Skate Love BCN with GH Skates. It is an amazing dance skate that I have created with them. I think that everybody will love it. It's made especially for dance skating, although they have artistic, they have all types of genres of skate. But I have created with GH Skates a new dance skate. We have an amazing new plate, the whole nine yards. You'll love this skate!
At Skate Love BCN, we will also have a giveaway, so be ready! Someone will have a new pair of skates to take home as well.
Oh my goodness! That's an exclusive right there. Thank you so much James!
As if we were not excited enough for Skate Love BCN, in just over one month's time.
I cannot wait to see you there in the sunshine in Spain.
Thank you so much for taking the time to join me tonight.
I will see everybody at Skate Love. If you didn't get your ticket you're missing out. You better get your ticket for next year! And get your plane ticket early also, because those prices start to go like this [arm moving up] the close you get to Skate Love.
Thank you so much, I appreciate everything you are doing for the community of skate. Please continue to do this and I will see you in Barcelona.
Thank you James take care!
Join me for more Skate Love chat as I catch up with some of the other teachers before the festival. #excited!