History: Our Stance on Side-Stance
Why Side-Stance Matters
Side-Stance is the #cibtrickofthemonth for August, but more than that, it has deep roots in the origins of Vertical Roller Skating. These days its common to see rollerskaters tearing up skateparks all over the globe, but what you are most likely seeing is all done 'prone'. Flashback to the '70s during the first boom of roller skating and the introduction of skateparks, skaters like Duke and Karen were hitting the transition for the first time, and most of it was all done in side-stance. We reached out to tell the tale of these two love birds and how they came to learn to carve up the concrete with such style!
Side skating is a game-changer for pool skaters. If you want maximum control over the pool, work on your side stance. I learned it when I was very young at the Shamrock Roller Rink in Torrance, California. The cool kids there could all do it. I quickly learned that all the kids that were great at it also skated on the speed skating team. So I joined the Speed Skating team and before long became very proficient at Side skating. The team coach hated when we skated that way, so we did it often to annoy him. I quickly learned that this was the best way to navigate large crowds on a busy floor and would weave in and out of the group on a Friday night for fun. Little did I know then that I would primarily skate sideways the rest of my life.
When I was on the Shamrock Speed skating team, two of my teammates were Dawn and Julie Means. Their older brother was none other than legendary skater Kenny Means. Guys on the speed skating team spoke of Kenny and told stories about him skating at the Vermont Drop and elsewhere. Kenny was one of, if not the first guy to roller skate in a drained pool sideways. Kenny was a surfer and skated with power and style and made it look very cool. The first time I saw Kenny roll, it became clear what I was trying to accomplish. He moved fast and low like a race car and did things that I can still see clearly in my mind. His front side turns on a big vertical wall were like something from a great surf film.
The thing that makes side stance the perfect style for pool riding is that you won't fall backwards because you really can't. You're always on your toes. Side Stance turns very similar to the way a skateboard or a surfboard would. The style lends itself perfectly to carving a pool and navigating the curved walls much better in my opinion than a parallel (prone) stance. Many skaters don't take the time to learn the style, and there are many great parallel skaters out there and very few great side skaters these days. I'm always pushing for new recruits and if you see me skating, please talk to me about it and ask for pointers if you need them. I'm always happy to help. Get out there and get sideways!
The first time I remember side skating was watching Schoolhouse Rock on TV. I was 7 or 8 years old, and I lived on a cul-de-sac in Wilmington, CA. I imagined the round dead-end street as my ice rink. I'd lace up my plastic skates and try to side skate backside for the top of the 8, front side for the bottom. The lyrics played in my head as I rolled around on my metal wheels, "If you skate, you would be great - if you could make a figure eight. That's a circle that goes round upon itself."
The next time I recall seeing side stance was on roller skates. I was at Shamrock skating rink in Torrance, CA. At 12 years old I spent every Friday night at the rink. There were a group of skaters that would side skate through the crowd, navigating the narrow spaces between skaters. I loved the way side-skating allowed them to move from front to back smoothly without hopping. I practiced often, and by the time I stopped skating at Shamrock I could skate just like the big boys I used to watch.
In 1977, when I was ten years old, my family moved into a house at the top of two hills — the first hill led to flat ground – the perfect place to slow your speed. The second hill rolled you right onto a busy street. By the time I was 12, I would skate backward full speed down the second hill and immediately stop before I would otherwise be thrust into traffic. A guy who lived on my street and his buddy would sometimes see me skating down the hills, the same way my family occasionally saw them doing "the coffin" on their skateboards.
One day they invited me to try the ramp they built in their driveway. The ramp was tight and small, and I hadn't any idea how to approach it. I tried rolling up the transition with my skates parallel, but I didn't understand the concept of carving or fakie. The guys had no idea of how to advise me, so after about 20 minutes of trying, I gave up. The dudes and I decided it was possible on roller skates, at least not by me.
In 1989, I met Duke through a mutual friend. It was after we fell in love that we discovered we had roller skating in common. About a month into the relationship, Duke took me to Jakes ramp in Hermosa. At the bottom of the 12-foot ramp, Duke toe stop climbed up the transition and then hit his stance. It took him less than three walls before he hit coping.
I was pretty impressed, and I was confident I could do the same thing.
I charged at the wall and rolled down side-stance. I was shocked when my attempt did not render the same results. By the time I got to the transition on the other side, it almost knocked me down. I didn't have any momentum. Duke gave me a few tips on pumping; after an hour, my legs were wobbly and muscles I didn't even know I had been burning. For days after I could still feel the burn, but it only made me want to get back on the ramp.
We may have gone to the ramp one other time together, but Duke and I broke up shortly after. I continued skating Jakes ramp without Duke and eventually learned how to pump my way up to coping. I learned after breaking my arm that you have to stay low if you want to stick to the vert. I suppose that is a different story. Thanks for letting me share memories of side skating.
Spoiler* they're back together and cute as ever! We hope you can cross paths with them and learn from the pro's, and if not, be sure to give side-stance a try this month for the #cibtrickofthemonth!
Photos by: Lance Smith