“I wonder what they’d say if we told them that just isn’t cool in the U.S.”
This is a question R and I have often found ourselves asking. Sometimes it’s in reference to fanny packs, sometimes to boys in decorative head bands, sometimes to Razer scooters, and sometimes, it refers to rollerblading.
It’s not that R and I consider ourselves to be some kind of connoisseurs of cool – it’s more that we find it highly amusing to compare what’s “in” in France, with what’s “in” at home. A lot of the time, the two are in pretty serious conflict.
For example, the French are in love with inline skating – in fact, it seems to be something of a national pastime. When we stopped at a sporting goods store last week to replace my nearly downless old sleeping bag, we were possibly two of five people in the entire store not there to buy rollerblades.
This is funny to us, because in the U.S., rollerblading is so not cool. Here? It’s all the fashion. Consider for a moment the skateboarding scene of the U.S. Skateboarders are coolly subversive, because the skateboard scene is still a throwback to the old “rage against the man,” counterculture groups. while I don’t know anyone who still owns a pair of rollerblades. Now take the skateboarders of the U.S. and outfit each one in a set of inlines. Same kids, different wheel arrangement.
R and I found some pretty definitive evidence of this yesterday, when we stumbled upon an extreme sports competition/exhibition across the Seine from the Tour Eiffel. The three sports featured were dmx biking, rollerblading and rollerskating. The bikes weren’t even being ridden, relegated instead to a showcase tent. The skateboarders were at least stunting, but didn’t even get an announcer. The rollerblading? A massive t.v. screen projecting slow motion recaps of certain stunts, loudspeakers blaring American rock music, and an announcer commentating in not only French, but English and Spanish as well. You can guess where all the crowds were.
Behind the main stunt course, some “street skaters” had set up a pole vaulting pole and a ramp, and would speed down a marble terrasse to leap over it – no helmets, no pads – it was intense.
At our Sciences Po orientation today, one of the events advertised for the coming weeks was “balard en rollers,” or, a rollerblading excursion around the left bank of the Seine. Forget renting skates – maybe to truly immerse myself in the Parisian lifestyle, I need to own my own.