Skateboarding has a language of its own.
A non-skateboarder listening to a group of skaters talking about “how sketchy it was to backside nosegrind that hubba” might be thinking about how someone in the group had his nose deep in a dirty whores anus and that it must’ve been quite a wretched experience.
Owen Wilson’s famous cameo in “Yeah Right!” had him speaking fluently in “skate-slang” yet he didn’t really know what was being said or how the phrases were meant to be delivered until Spike Jonz put the sentences into context for him and even then, it took him a whole week of practising before the shoot.
But while some words can be easily deciphered by their technical clarity (“kickflip” and “heelflip” are pretty straight forward) and others by their originators (the “ollie” is named after the person who i credited with inventing it: Alan “Ollie” Gelfund.),
some terms have references that are so obscure that even skateboarders don’t know where they come from unless they’re well informed on skateboarding’s history.
Here are a few skate-terms which have weird origins:
BONELESS: originally called the “boneless-one” which was the name of a sock-puppet dog that was in the possession of Robert Hamrick, a friend of the tricks creator Gary Scott Davis. The puppets full name was “Harry the boneless one” and was called that because he didn’t have any bones so he needed your hand to come to life. I think this is the only case ever where a puppet has a trick named after him.
LASER FLIP: It sounds like something futuristic and rightfully so because it apparently gets its name from Mike Hayes’ videopart in Alien Workshop’s “Timecode” video where everytime he did one you would hear a laser in the background (probably added in by aliens one to brainwash us into thinking that he had the best laser flip ever. It worked).
Many people are doing bigspins lately (especially in backside) but where did the name come from? Many give credit to Brian Lotti but while he didn’t invent the trick, he was the muse for the name. “Bigspin” was a Californian lottery TV show. Someone apparently saw him doing a bigspin and thought: ”Lotti…sounds like “lottery”…BIGSPIN!”.
ACID DROP: Similar to the “omb drop” but without grabbing the board. This trick is said to have been invented by Duane Peters around ‘75/’76 who drop into empty pools by rolling straight at the coping. They probably chose the name “acid drop” because you probably had to be high on LSD to try it in the first place!
So we all know how diverse and also entertaining skate-slang origins can be, so what about one of the most commonly seen tricks as of late:
It may seem obvious. Many tricks names or terms are taken from outside the world of skateboarding so understanding that it was invented in the late 80’s during a time where street skateboarding was beginning to flourish and with the “rebellious street attitude” of the punk and rap movements being evermore present, one could assume that the name came from disobeying the law.
No-Comply: Not conforming.
Lucero says that Neil Blender saw him doing a “no-handed boneless” on a parking block and he expressed his inability to comprehend it by saying: “no comply…no comprende”.
The name stuck.
Now as entertaining as it might be, grammar-wise it’s incorrect.
The word “comply” actually means “to be compliant”, “to follow a certain way” or “to obey”.
So “NO comply” means to NOT obey rather than “not understanding” or “no comprende”.
The fact that Lucero and Blender didn’t know what “no comply” really meant (they didn’t comply to the english language) actually gave us a name of a trick that is even better than what it would’ve been. Imagine calling it a “no comprende” or a “no capisc’”…it doesn’t sound as great.
“No-comply” is awesome because it’s basically the mantra of skateboarding: To do what you want, to use what you’ve learned to create your own style, to go against the grain even when it’s within the culture of skateboarding itself…
…and not realizing you’re doing it makes it all the more awesome.