Back from the Dead
Dan McLaren may not have been in the public eye for a few years, but that doesn’t mean he’s still not blading hard.
Within the confines of the tight-knit UK rollerblading community where everyone seems to know everyone, either by name or by face, Dan McLaren was well known to most. He was a member of the Razors UK team for three years, after being invited to join the ranks in 2008, and could regularly be spotted in online edits with close friend Carne Webb and at real street events across the country. In 2011, he was dropped from the Razors team without any warning and, as he puts it, without justifiable cause. Since losing his boot sponsor, McLaren was hardly ever seen at events and many people had come to the conclusion that he had simply stopped blading.
In 2011, McLaren proved that this was definitely not the case when he showed up at the Milton Keynes stop of A Chosen Few’s international street skating contest series and came second, narrowly losing out to Alex Burston after landing some impressive feats, including a series of truespin variations down the notorious “Brown” rail, which really should be called the casualty rail because it is pretty steep, the stair set is falling apart and the landing is not smooth by any means. According to McLaren, this was not a comeback as he has never stopped skating, he simply has no interest in attending most competitions anymore (with the exception of real street events) because he has no desire to compete. We caught up with the Northamptonshire blading veteran to find out what really happened with Razors and what he has been doing with himself since.
Note From Cal Baker
One of my earliest memories of skating with Dan was at a school in Northampton. We were all just watching the “bigger boys” skate a square down rail. All of a sudden, a 4ft nothing, size 10 skate wearing Dan laces the most perfect top soul, much to the astonishment of us and the bigger boys also. Since then, I can honestly say I have had the pleasure of seeing Dan progress every time he skates. He is one of those skaters that will instantly catch your attention at a session. He skates hard and fast without any hesitation or fear of falling, He also possesses a really gritty street skater style.
This wasn’t so much an interview as a chat between friends and a chance for Dan to set the record straight on a couple of things. After a lot of goading we finally got him to open up about being dropped by Razors and asked him why he thinks it is that most people thought he had quit rollerblading.
Cal Baker: For the kids that don’t know, introduce yourself.
Dan McLaren: My name is Dan McLaren, I’m 26 and live in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire – not Milton Keynes, as everyone seems to think.
Cal Baker: You got dropped by your boot sponsor, Razors, a while back. I remember you telling me at the time that, when they called, you thought they were calling you to give you some new blades. How did you feel when you got dropped?
Dan McLaren: I was gutted, for sure, and I was wondering why I got the boot.
Carne Webb: Yeah, you got the boot alright, not a pro boot, not new boots – just the boot!
Dan McLaren: Haha! Yeah, exactly, I was thinking to myself that I didn’t do anything less than anyone else on the team and, at the time, didn’t think it was about my skating ability either. For them to expect me to give them a certain amount of clips and pictures each month is unfair. Who takes these photos? Who films me? Do I have to pay a photographer or buy a camera myself?
Carne Webb: It’s like you got there by proving how good you are and then, when you get on the team, they were kind of like, “Well you don’t live locally and we don’t see enough of you and, to be honest, I can kind of see their point – but it does seem unfair.
Dan McLaren: Yeah, me too. That’s why the Razors and Powerslide houses work so well; because you have all the team in one house with a videographer and photographer on hand to capture everything, so nothing is missed.
Cal Baker: As I’m sure people will notice, even though you were dropped you have continued to skate the skates, whereas most skaters tend to change brand when they get dropped. Was this a conscious decision on your part?
Dan McLaren: Well, I skated that skate for ten years and was only on the team for maybe four years. If I never got hooked up by them I probably would have still skated those skates forever anyway.
Carne Webb: So what was your main drive for doing this Wheel Scene profile?
Dan McLaren: Well, when Sam (Cooper) put that picture of me doing the royale on a kink on Be-Mag, I had a few comments from people saying it’s good to see me back skating again – I never stopped! I mainly want to let people know that, just because you don’t see me at comps or the cool places to skate, doesn’t mean I stopped skating or stopped progressing.
Cal Baker: Do you think that the fact you don’t attend competitions is the main reason for this?
Dan McLaren: Well, maybe, but we do go to some comps – we went to the Liverpool IMYTA!
Cal Baker: That was in 2006 – we have been to a few since then.
Dan McLaren: Yeah, we went to Amsterdam and stuff like that but in the last two years I’ve been going to less and less
Cal Baker: Do you think that if you entered comps you would probably go to more?
Dan McLaren: No, not really, because me and my friends are not into that sort of thing. The only competitive thing we have is with ourselves, and that’s like a joke. I think that you only need to go to all the comps and things if you’re intending to make something out of skating, like a job. If you wanna make money out of rollerblading, comp skating is the only way to be.
Cal Baker: Do you wish your skating had gone down that route?
Dan McLaren: No, not necessarily, because I would have had to do it on my own as none of my friends would have done it.
Cal Baker: Who do you think is the best in the UK?
Dan McLaren: Probably (Nick) Lomax, because he seems to win most competitions he enters.
Cal Baker: Who is your favourite in the UK?
Dan McLaren: Well, either (Scott Quinn) Quinny or Alex Burston. Burston probably because I have seen him grow from a little kid to one of the top international professionals and I like to see people taking their skating seriously if they want to make a full-time job of it.
Cal Baker: As we discussed earlier, we went for years without having cameras or people to film, now we have four cameras and everyone and their dog has a 550d at least. Does being filmed or having your photo taken encourage you to skate harder?
Dan McLaren: Yeah, to a certain extent. I mean, with the Wheel Scene thing, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. If I get hurt that day, I’ll just keep skating and recover the next day.
Cal Baker: Whilst getting the pictures you would rock up to a new spot, get it done and leave. Is this how you like your skating to work?
Dan McLaren: No, not always, but for the purpose of taking photos or filming clips, I think it’s best like that.
Carne Webb: Do you think the right people are in charge of skating in the UK?
Dan McLaren: No! It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I also don’t see how being a skater for a few years means you have the experience needed to be a manager or something like that. With Unity (now defunct UK blading magazine), it was all Bristol-based at the start then it turned to Manchester, so if you lived near the photographer or knew the editor your pictures got ran. That’s why I think Wheel Scene is good; because it’s free there is no need to rush it out and they can take the time to cover the whole UK.
Introduction and interview: Carne Webb and Cal Baker Photos: Sam Cooper
Powered by Facebook Comments