Dave Lang loves to entertain big crowds, he loves promoting blading and puts everything he has into his mission. After spending 9 months doing shows in a circus in Germany he used his savings to travel to places and events all over the world, to blade hard and enjoy life. When he finally got back to the States, he hit his head and unfortunately ended up in hospital for several weeks. Luckily he is doing fine now, and will be back on his blades soon. We took the chance to speak with him about his wild ride during the last year and a half, and he came through with some detailed answers that will give you an impression of how awesome life can be if you are on the road with Dave Lang. Enjoy.
Hey Dave, thanks for doing this with us. Where are you right now and what did you do before you started answering my questions? I just arrived back in California after 8 weeks recovering from a traumatic brain injury called a subdural hematoma with internal brain bleeding. There was an 80% chance of it being a fatal, so I’m really fortunate to say the least.
Please tell us what you did, what exactly happened and of course how long it will take you to get back on blades? I arrived at Woodward West on friday night for AIL Finals, had myself a session and got to catch up with some friends. The next day, I woke up and got down to the park around 11, put the blades on and started skating. I always session the launch box and do a few runs to warm up and get a feel for my legs. I was feeling really energetic. On one of the runs, I ended up launching too high and far; flat bottoming on the concrete. My legs compressed and my momentum brought me to the floor whiplashing my head to the ground. I never lost consciousness, but I have also never really hit my head before. I got checked out by the medics at the park, everything seemed normal. They advised me that if I felt up to skating again, I could do so. So, that’s what I did.
I skated through the contest and after taking first place; my headache started to set in. The next day, I woke up with the worst pain I have ever felt in my head. It took the majority of the day to even get out of bed, none the less; call the ambulance for myself. I was rushed to the hospital where the doctors assessed the severity of my injury and told me that I would be flown to the next hospital for what they thought would have to be emergency neuro-surgery. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. After being in the ICU for a week, they moved me to another room in the hospital for additional monitoring. When I was discharged, however, my symptoms continued for the next several weeks.
Once the bills started rolling in, however, I realized that I would have to fly back to New Jersey; where I am originally from. Technically, being a resident of New Jersey and having treatments done in California; I was “out of network” for my insurance. Meaning, I am facing upwards of $70,000 of healthcare that I wasn’t covered for; even though it was an emergency. Despite the fact that I pay $300 for Obamacare every month. So upon my return to the East coast, I followed up with a lot of doctors and 8 weeks later; made a full recovery. I am now able to get back on the blades!
Did the fall change your perspective on protection or the way you’re riding?
The fall changed my perspective on everything. Not just in terms of blading, but to my life as a whole.
Because of the extreme head trauma I experienced, I have to wear a helmet every time I go skating from now on. The window for another injury like this is wide open now and any blow to my head could be another dance with death. I’d much rather protect myself, than worry about how “cool” I look because of whatever stigmas exist for people who wear helmets. I learned the hard way and I would never wish this upon anyone.
As far as how I skate, nothing has really changed. Miraculously, I had no loss of coordination because of the injury. The doctors were actually shocked by this and couldn’t believe my fast recovery. It was a huge possibility that I could have ended up like Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” because of this blow to the head. But the fact that I didn’t and have had so much encouragement to get back on my skates; I plan on picking up where I started off. There’s some unfinished business I have with the mega ramp and I plan on filming something new as soon as possible.
Photo: Dominik Wagner
You spent your last year riding at Flic Flac. Please explain a little bit what exactly Flic Flac is and what you did there. Flic Flac, traditionally, is German circus. However, when I was brought into the show; they revamped what they had done in the past and turned into a sort of extreme stunt show. It was like if Nitro Circus met a traditional Circus and smoked crack together. It was completely insane. Not to mention very demanding. We were doing shows 6 days a week, 2 times on Saturdays and Sundays with only one day off. It was a real privilege to work alongside some of the best performers in the world, and to have their determination become that of my own.
It was a lot of fun; but also a lot of work. There were days that I physically felt like I couldn’t do the mega show. But, once the lights went dark and you watched everyone send themselves, knowing they are in your same situation; you got juiced to go out and rip. There was never a dull moment. Even having seen the show every day for a year I would watch the show every day. It was so inspirational being on the regiment of a traditional circus performer and knowing what it was to push my body until the absolute limit on the daily. Shima and I carried that same motivation once the tour ended and applied it to all of our skating that followed. It’s possible that it’s why our health took the turn that it did. But I know that we both have no regrets for pushing ourselves the way we did. Best year of my life.
How did you get the job in first place?
While I was working at Woodward West, I received an email that was forwarded to me; specifically seeking out “mega ramp inline skaters”. I replied immediately. When I received a response they flew me out to Germany, where I oversaw the construction of the ramp and helped shape it into what we rode every day. Upon my return from Europe, I called up Shima and asked if he was down to make “the most epic two man mission since Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.” Without any hesitation, he said “yes.” And about two days before we were scheduled to leave; we received our plane tickets, packed up our lives and left the States for the 9 months that followed.
Looking back, did your time there change the way you look on things? Doesn’t matter if it’s related to blading, jobs or life in general. There was not one point in time that I was not completely living in the moment. There was nothing but the show, there were no rules, we were above the law, we stayed out to ungodly hours, we destroyed things and we ripped harder than we ever had before. It was perfect.
Every day was a reminder, when you stepped out of your 10×10 shipping container and saw the beacon that was the stadium size tent that we all lived around. Those black and yellow stripes represented something that was bigger than just rollerblading. It was freedom. You weren’t fixed to an address, your home just showed up at the next stop on tour and the city was yours for the taking. And that’s what we did. We came, we saw and conquered.
But, there were always moments where you would catch yourself and reality would hit you. For better or worse. But still, you’d smile because life couldn’t get any better. Would I change some of the choices I made? Yes. Would I change the person I was at times? Yes. Would I go back and do it all over again? In a heartbeat.
What do you like the most about it and what did you hate the most?
I loved doing the shows, the feeling I had after doing the shows, skating mega ramp every day, skating with Shima every day, using free tickets like currency, being treated like celebrities at bars and clubs, not giving a fuck about consequences, buying a moped, driving the moped, taking the governor out of the moped to make it faster, having a ghetto blaster that could make your ears bleed, being able to invite the homies to see the show for free, new cities, new experiences and life long friends.
I hated the drama that surrounded the circus. There’s no way to explain it fully, but it was like some real housewives shit. Rumors, infidelity and bad intentions.
Side note: The upcoming Be-Mag print issue features a Flic Flac article, stay tuned.
After spending so much time with Shima, please tell us what’s his worst habit. Hanging out with me.
After the Flic Flac tour you went back home for a while, just to get ready for more big adventures in 2014. Please tell us a little a bit about your 2014 so far? After Flic Flac, life seemed to come to a sudden halt. Everything stopped, but I was still in the mind frame of ripping every day. I was at a point in skating where I had so much motivation; that I couldn’t stop. After all, I had just got done skating mega ramp every day for 9 months. I needed some sort of fix. I made a list of places and events that I wanted to skate. So, I began to use the money I saved up from working in Germany to fund myself and travel across the world to attend as many events as I had missed the previous year.
Once I got back from Germany, I almost immediately boarded a plane to go and rip with Miguel Ramos and a lot of other homies down in Puerto Rico for 10 days on the “Por La Playa Tour”. It was an amazing experience, mostly because it was so many different types of skaters crammed into the same van. Nearly 20 of us in a 15 passenger van with names like David Sizemore, Franky Morales, Kruise Sapstein, Brandon Smith, Ivan Narez and Erick Rodriguez; just to name a few. Because there were so many different minds, we all skated spots that we typically wouldn’t. But, we all enjoyed the good times that were had.
Soon after Puerto Rico I flew down to Orlando to catch up with the Chase brothers and the rest of the Florida boys. We then drove down to Jacksonville, FL for the annual Pow-Wow contest at Kona skatepark; which is one of my favorite places on Earth. After 3 days, nearly no sleep, no tent, no blankets and long nights spent at “Studs Pub”; we drove back North to Orlando for a little more shredding and afternoons drinking by the river.
Once I got back to New Jersey, I was, again; facing a stand still. It was time for another trip. I booked myself a flight to Amsterdam and got lost for about a week. Once people started rolling through for the pre-winterclash Amsterdam Extravaganza, I hopped onto the bandwagon with Montre Livingston and started one of the several trips we would take this year. We took the train to Eindhoven with no place to stay for Winterclash and spent the next few days ripping the skatepark and crashing on the floors of all the Hang Losers crew from Sweden.
Photo: Alexander Schneider
After Eindhoven, I attempted to get back to Amsterdam; when I realized that my credit card had been turned off. I lurked around the train station trying to figure out a plan, when Joey Egan showed up and saw that I was in a bind. He gave me some petty cash and helped start my journey back to Amsterdam. It’s a very humbling feeling asking strangers for money because you realize how fortunate you are to not have to do this on a day to day basis. Fortunately, with the help of some good souls, I got back to Amsterdam where I was able to contact my bank and have money wired to me at the train station when I arrived.
I missed my flight back to America and ended up staying a few extra days partying with my wire transfer funds. Once I got back to America, I spent a little time in New York City before I headed to California to stay on a constant rip. A few months out in Palm Springs gave me a daily session at the skate park across the street from my house, weekends in LA with John Bolino and Xathan Stewart and a hell of a hangover on Monday mornings. Summer was approaching, and this was what I was most excited for. FISE World Montpellier was the start of summer. I love that event. Especially for the fact that FISE started the inline slope style contest. If you have never been to Montpellier; go! And if you haven’t been to the FISE event, you have to throw that one on your bucket list. Just the atmosphere itself is incredible. The whole event takes place along the river and each event has its respective place. There are also thousands of people attending the event and it’s a really good place to showcase rollerblading to the masses. There are parties until unholy hours of the morning EVERY NIGHT; which is ideal if you pan on getting up early. Plus, the French people really dig blading. I wound up taking 4th place and some money with me for my journey.
It was nearly 6 months since I had left Germany and I was really excited to get back to Berlin for Summerclash. It was the start of a long stretch of events. It had been a while since I had seen a lot of people and it was awesome to now be traveling along with them. I met up with all the boys on the “Haitian Reincarnation Tour”. Some of them had never traveled outside of the country and it was really awesome experiencing that with them. We spent some time in Berlin shredding and then headed to Mellowpark for the Clash. Sumerclash was amazing, so many faces turned up for the event, not to mention; Mellowpark has some of the most righteous skate parks in one area. After 3 days of blading and partying, we headed back to Berlin to unwind.
From Berlin, the Haitian boys headed off to spend a week in Copenhagen while Montre, Broskow, Sizemore, Dom Wagner, Jojo and myself headed off to Andorra for the FISE Spine Ramp contest. We landed in Barcelona only to take a 3 hour shuttle up into the mountains. After a few pit stops to see the sights and grab food, I woke up in beautiful Andorra. The scenery alone was worth the trip, not to mention FISE always puts on killer events. At one point and time, during the after-party, a group of 15 chicks comes up to me and asked me if I could get them onto the stage; where Montre was currently dancing. Without hesitation, I took the leader of the group by the wrist and dragged them past security. With some small talk present, I found out that they were all from Cirque Du Soleil. Naturally, I said that I worked in circus at Flic Flac. After mentioning it, we were all instantly friends and we rolled around with them for the rest of the weekend. Circus is tight knit like that. But after all was said and done; me and the crew were off to Copenhagen.
Photo: Dominik Wagner
Photo: Dominik Wagner
We all fought sleep the last night in Andorra and flew out to Copenhagen for the Roskilde Festival. We were all dead. I think I woke up in Copenhagen, without even realizing that we had left Barcelona. I was beyond excited for Roskilde. I had heard so much about this festival and was lucky enough to get invited by Jojo. We met up with the Haitian boys again and the fabled Roskilde festival was becoming a reality. When we got there, the majority of us were still fighting sleep. However, once the gates to the festival opened and people began to rush in to set up camp; that fatigue left each of us. The first three days of the event are known as the “warm up” days; which is crazy because the music portion of the festival doesn’t begin until the middle of the week. During the warm up days, all of the skating events take place. The Danish people are incredible. They are so about everything that is happening at the festival; especially the blading. Roskilde is actually one of the few places besides FISE that I have witnessed the general public get hyped on rollerblading. Also, 90% of the blading contest crowd were blonde haired Danish babes; which was NOT the case at the BMX and skateboarding events.
There is no way to really describe the energy at the contest either. It doesn’t feel like a contest. Rather, a session with all of your best friends. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten bummed out at a contest because it gets taken too seriously at a certain point. That wasn’t the case at Roskilde. Everyone was on fire. The crowd was behind us. And all of the screens is the festival could see blading throughout all of the camp grounds. It was a beautiful thing. To top it all off, I ended up taking first place at the contest. It was a dream. I have never placed first in a “pro” contest before and to do so at Roskilde almost brought me to tears. At least before Montre realized it, cracked open a Tuborg and told me to get my shit together. The next day, we all skated in the bowl contest. Everyone was a bit on the tired side because we all raged until the sun came back up. But, the energy was still there. We all knew we just had to rip as hard as we were capable of doing before the rest of the weekend. Dom Wagner took first, naturally, and so began the music.
It’s not every day where you can see 2 to 3 of your favorite bands in the same day. None the less, 3 days in a row. The music portion of the festival was magic. We kicked it off by seeing, my personal favorite band; Electric Wizard. No better way to keep the momentum going than what it already had been. Roskilde is a magical place for the fact that there is a sense of “togetherness” between all of the people there. From the moment you arrive, until you depart; you feel a connection between everyone and everything. I would go back in a heartbeat.
After Roskilde, I ventured back to Copenhagen with the Haitian dudes and a few other stragglers; Farmer, Ivan Narez and a few others. We spent a week at Kåre Lindberg’s house and got to experience Copenhagen. We shredded the whole week. Once people started to stray off, I was left with a choice; change my ticket and go to NASS Festival in the UK or head back to Berlin for a week. I went to Berlin. I treated myself to a nice hotel when I got there, just to get good rest. I hit up my usual spots and hung out with the homies. After catering a party impromptu (no joke), I was invited by the party organizer and spent a night at the infamous Berlin underground club “The Berghain.” I stayed up all night and hopped onto the plane back to America. Heavy Experience.
Photo: Bea Conde-Corbal
What’s the best trip you went on or event you’ve visited this year, and why? Roskilde Festival, without a doubt. The blading, the babes, the beers, the music and, none the less; having your friends around for it all. It’s a trip that you and your friends won’t forget anytime soon. I encourage everyone to put that on their list-of-things to do.
You are obviously feeling home on the mega ramp. Are there other options to make a living with riding such ramps, now that Flic Flac is over?
I love skating Mega Ramp; no matter what anyone may think of it. There is no feeling comparable. It is like rediscovering blading all over again. Like, your first soul grind.
As far as making a career out of it; chances are slim to none. It kind of sucks to say, actually. I have tried to figure out ways to do so, but my options are limited. A position on Nitro Circus seems to be unattainable because they have Wake and Haffey; and now the Yasutokos, I believe? Blader spots seem pretty full up. Plus, I have no in with them; unfortunately. And because Flic Flac won’t continue, that option is out of the question.
Who knows what is in store for me. But, it looks as though I will probably have to revert back to a “normal” career option. Unless I get that call from Nitro Circus. HAFFEY, HIT ME UP!
Did you start filming for your 666 series before you got hurt? Yes, but hitting my head really set things back. I have a LOT of catching up to do.
Where do you see yourself in 2 years from now?
Well, with my recent track record; I’m hoping to be alive.
Any plans for 2015 already?
I have a few things up my sleeve. I’ve been working really hard on something to bring to the blading scene. I can’t give away too much about it, but already I have John Bolino and Anthony Marchione on board. It’s been a long time coming and now that I have the funds to do so; I’m putting things into motion. I’m really excited to launch in 2015.