An Ode to the Slappy
When a lot of us got into skateboarding, we were drawn in by the spectacle. If you are of a certain generation, it was probably the X Games that did it for you. To this day, the most-famous moment in skateboarding is when Tony Hawk landed a 900. Maybe what got you on a board was playing skateboarding video games, which also prize elaborate tricks, and trick combos, that in real life are effectively impossible to pull off.
I am not here to pay homage to doing a bunch of a spins on a vert or, in fact, anything that involves getting air. This is not about the spectacle. It is about perhaps the most egalitarian thing one can do on a skateboard. It is about the slappy grind, the style of skate trick that dares to defy the defying of gravity that Hawk and so many others have done.
If you are not familiar, a slappy grind is any grind that does not involve ollieing. You are riding up onto what you are going to be grinding on directly. If you are getting air, you aren’t doing a slappy. This makes curbs a beloved figure in the world of slappies, though you could, in theory, do one on a ledge, or a rail, or anything grindable. Although, I am trying to imagine the scenario where you could ride up onto a rail directly. There would be some interesting architectural scenarios involved in that. Granted, you could build that into a skatepark, but to me the slappy is for true street skateboarding. It is one with your natural surroundings, though in this case “nature” means cement and stuff like that.
Now, slappies can be quite impressive and show off a lot of skill. They still require balance and acumen on your board. Going a great distance on a slappy is impressive, especially when you think about the speed one has to build up to really get a grind going on a curb. Gravity is not your friend in such a scenario. There are also skate videos out there dedicated to slappies, and some skaters have attached their name to the slappy. They consider it an important arrow in their quiver. However, these skaters, and videos, are claiming the slappy explicitly because it is so anathema to the showier aspects of skateboarding.
As I said in the opening, so much of what draws people to skateboarding is the spectacle. It’s the skaters on the vert ramps and the halfpipes. It’s the folks getting air. That’s not a world we can all live in, though, and sometimes a world we don’t want to live in necessarily. We don’t want to get air. There are a lot of questions and concerns about what will happen when we return to solid ground. It’s fun to watch, but doing it isn’t for everybody. These days, it feels like verts are for tweens who weigh 80 pounds soaking wet trying do as many rotations as possible to set some new record. That’s not what all of us want from skating, for ourselves or for skateboarding.
Slappies are for everybody. All you need is a curb and some ambition. You don’t even have to have the strongest ollie skills. To me, it feels like a connection to the oldest days of skateboarding, when it was people in pools and shit. Slappies are simple and lo-fi, but they’re still cool. It’s still a skateboard trick. A variety of them, in fact. There’s more than one way to lay down a slappy grind. 50-50 grinds, nose grinds, feeble grinds, you name it. However you want to throw it down, you can.
A lot of the stuff you see on YouTube, even the street skateboarding competitions, feature tricks most of us will never be able to do. It’s kind of like how most of us will never, say, play basketball at a high level. However, we can go to the park and shoot some hoops. We can play a game of H-O-R-S-E because its within our capacity. Slappies are like that. They aren’t glamorous. It’s a ground-level skateboarding trick, in a literal and spiritual sense. Anybody can get out there on their board and give it a shot. That gives the slappy a spot in my heart. They may not have flash, but they still have style.
What also has style? That would be the merch in the Dose shop.