This is a text about organising street competitions. I don’t want to praise our work too much. Do it your way! If you have already decided to organise a street competition in your hometown now, you may stop reading. The following information is not obligatory.
Words: Jonas Rogge
Photography: Courtesy of Abriss
I started Abriss in 2015 out of an egoistic intention. When I started rollerblading in 2008, the days of big street events were passing. In 2012 Jojo put on the ‘Real Street Berlin’ which was the last relevant street event that happened in Berlin.
I wanted to experience this again, as I have in other European cities, most remarkably in Copenhagen. And I wanted to show that there is still people actively rollerblading in our town that seems to make more people stop skating than bringing them together for a session. I don’t believe that street competitions are the key to motivate people outside the scene to start rollerblading. It’s more about celebrating yourself and your scene. It’s something special to skate with many people and occupy public space for your curious artistry. I obviously want to be a part of some movement.
Involve your friends. For any task you might know someone that is better than you in doing it. It is the greatest experience to bring those skills together and let them merge into the whole of the event. It becomes a unique product of cooperation.
Ideally find a partner in crime, so you won’t feel responsible all on your own. Shout out to Lino, a great tattoo artist and friend who shapes the aesthetic appearance of Abriss. Produce posters, promotion videos, shirts, the event is just a frame to let your ideas run riot. One important aspect of rollerblading to me is that you meet with friends and you actually have something to do. Organising an event together provides more of these opportunities. You can meet for a drink and fantasize about the event and all the preceding steps. In the following you can meet to actually realize your plans. All provided that you have some wish to express yourself, as your crew, as a brand or whatever.
There is one thing I especially like about street competitions from the side of organisation. Street competitions must not be about money or regulations. This takes away a lot of stress and work, I guess. You don’t have to declare this as an event anywhere. You don’t have to rent a location, you don’t need to fulfill any safety requirements and you don’t need people to sign waivers or even make them register. This means you can do it without investing any money, somehow. In the end you’ll probably invest your own money, but that’s worth it anyway. Besides, the worst case scenario is that you have a bigger-than-usual street session with friends from your hometown and a handful of visitors. There is not much of a risk, if you don’t expect your event to outshine IMYTA right from the start.
Still, I wanted to make Abriss an event that I would like to visit myself. This thought guides the whole process of planning the event. Again, just do whatever you like. Choose the spots where you want to see people skate, ask your favorite companies for support. What did you like at street competitions that you have visited, what did you miss? It’s a mix of anticipating and imitating what others have done to put up an event and coming up with your own ideas. Neither do I feel authorized to define the guideline for a legit street competition, nor do I want to. You don’t have to make revolutionary changes to the basic concept of 3 street spots and a winner to make your event stand out. A friend of mine made a contest unique by handing out water ice to everyone. A great career of creating rollerblading events should follow.
Now, maybe you get caught up in envisioning the game changing street competition that is going to happen and you are intrigued by your own concept. Of course there is the ambition to make people come to the event. Some personal connections to the rollerblading establishment make it much easier, that’s for sure. We were very lucky to fit the date of the first Abriss edition in 2015 to the tour schedule of the Cayenne Crew. We could announce the presence of pro riders like Sizemore, Farm, Richie Eisler and many more. That brought a lot of attention to our newborn event. In the end only Sizemore was skating the competition, although they all agreed to announcing them personally. Maybe a little disappointing to some visitors, but a very lucky incident for the premiere edition. Over the day there were around 100 skaters and visitors at the first Abriss, which was a great success to us. Blading celebrities attract people, I assume. The easiest way to attract rollerbladers is to ask them personally. In general, contact and invite everyone you know, write it on the walls. Maybe big prize money could do the job, too, but money.
Sponsors might help, at least with the riders. If you are lucky they will send someone from their team to the competition (I have only heard of that). I suspect that sponsors make your event appear more legit in general. If a company believes in your event, insofar as there will be people and shit will go down, this will make potential visitors believe the same thing. This is kind of a speculation, though. There has been more sponsors than ever before in 2017 and the size of the crowd did not change.
It can be hard to get feedback from companies. Many of them will not answer if you contact them on their public e-mail address. You don’t need the purple leftover shirts size S anyway, screw them!
The more joyful part of attracting attention is to produce some creative output to promote the event. I assure this can work. In the first year people told us, that they started to think about coming to Abriss, because they were entertained by the first teaser we made.
In this proess we follow the “fun fun fun”-principle. Produce stuff that you enjoy making and comsuming yourself and people will hopefully notice you’re having fun and imagine themselves having fun at the event.
Obviously you need some medium of communication to share the exciting news about the competition. It seems inevitable to create a page on the well known social media platforms. Remind people that something will happen. Regarding the poor state of affairs rollerblading media like Be-Mag will probably help you spread the word. It’s not like you have to make yourself a name first.
Concluding, I’ll share some things I’ve learned:
Don’t exhaust yourself developing your vision of rollerblading in the first e-mail to a potential sponsor. Keep it short.
I personally enjoy street competitions that feel like a big session. If you want to see many people skate, pick some comfortable spots for the start. At least in my experience it is absurd to take the IMYTA approach today, putting a steep down rail and telling people that you have to fucking one-up the prior trick or you’re out.
Do your best to find a capable speaker for the event.