Blackpool skate stories – This is skateboarding

In this chapter of Blackpool Skate Stories, Claire talks to Rick Bailey about a lifelong affinity with skating and his philosophy on why skateboarding is so important to him.

Tell us a bit about you.

My name is Rick Bailey, I’m currently a 44-year-old PE teacher working at Armfield Academy in Blackpool.

I moved back to Blackpool on the 18th December 2020, after leaving to go to Bangor University in September 1995.

Why is skateboarding important to you and how long have you been doing it?

Skateboarding is massively important to me as it is more than an activity, it is a lifestyle which has been ingrained throughout every part of my life for pretty much as long as I can remember. I first got a skateboard in 1983, which looked similar to a plastic penny board of today. I was 7 years old.

I always think once a skateboarder, always a skateboarder does it feed into the rest of your life and how?

This is a very accurate statement, especially as since 1983 I have never stopped riding my skateboard. It has given me everything, skateboarding has taught me resilience and helped me to develop my social awareness. It has helped me have a strong bond with a huge number of people I have met along my life’s journey.

It has taken me all over the country and even abroad, giving me a way in to instantly be accepted and experience other people’s lifestyles and skate scenes. A good example of this is a couple of years ago whilst on a family holiday in Fuerteventura I stumbled upon a new Bowl in Lajares. I talked the guy who’d built it and he invited me to a contest there at the weekend. He lent me a board and I came 3rd in the Men’s open competition.

I was then subsequently invited to back yard mini ramp jams / BBQ’s and had the opportunity to experience the real island life with the real locals. Its things like that which make life special and money can’t buy.

Where and how did you get into skateboarding?

I started surfing from aged 4, My Dad had been surfing since the sixties, on our 1983 Easter Holiday to Devon, I bought my first skateboard so I could get that feeling of surfing wherever I went.

I was the only kid at that time that had a board on my street, I spent all my free time practicing. It wasn’t cool back then, we were never supposed to be the cool kids. It takes so much time to get good that you’ve got to be obsessive to invest that much time into it.

I met all of my closest friends through skateboarding on Blackpool Promenade and the surrounding areas, and it is the myriad of experiences and life lessons skateboarding gave me that have helped shape who I am today.

Do you think creativity and skateboarding feed into one another and how?

Skateboarding is not a sport, it’s a way of redefining the environment which surrounds you, it allows you to express your own creativity and artistic style. Skateboarders don’t like rules, we don’t like to be confined. I have often likened it to being a musician or an artist in that there is not set way to do it. And an individual’s style is instantly recognisable, unique to that person, it can’t be faked or replicated.

For me the best times are when the session is on, by that I mean when the level of skateboarding is pushed beyond its normally perceived limits. It’s like when really good musicians jam, they feed off each other they take their art in new and unexpected directions developed from the vibe of what surrounds them. This is exactly what happens in skateboarding and the possibilities for creativity are limitless.

I have been surfing off the coast of Blackpool for the last 40 years. It has helped me with my surfing and vice versa.

What does the Blackpool skate scene look like now in comparison to when you first began?

When I first started I was on my own, too little to be allowed off my street by myself. During the late 80’s there was a bit of a scene with quite a few regular skaters meeting up on the promenade.

Probably in 1989 the scene died completely Radical Sports closed as did Boots and Rackets. We had to travel to Split sports in Manchester to buy equipment. In my generation during the early 90’s there was about 15 of us from all across the Fylde coast who would regularly meet up. We had no facilities, we spent all of our time being moved on by the police or being chased by security guards and townies trying to beat you up.

In 1994 the Blackpool bandstand was built, the accidental perfect facility in the perfect location. The councillor’s saw a physical object and we saw a blank canvas ready for us to perform our disposable art. As a result, skateboarding in Blackpool grew bigger and bigger. The level of skateboarding flourished as the aforementioned session was on! Guys like Danny Allision, Ted Moyle and Danny Brady came through and the scene exploded.

Then in 1995, I had to leave. The session continued without me and I became irrelevant, a forgotten memory of the people who were there. Now I see a different landscape in the Blackpool scene, skateparks all over the Fylde coast. Mainstream acceptance and kids carrying boards in every village.

Some of the old crew are still about and a generation of new incredible skaters like Adam Kay, Luke McClusky, Logan Dell Wilkinson to name but a few. All developing their own scene, living their lives to the full and creating inspiration for the generation of skaters who will come after them.

This is Skateboarding


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