One of South London’s finest blading specimens reflects on ten years of great sessions, new friendships and landmark moments in the sport.
Dan has a boundless enthusiasm and an infectious personality that makes him a pleasure to be around. This enthusiasm is most evident in his passion for skating. He has an obvious will to succeed in his chosen passion and has always had the determination, commitment and dedication to do so. I’ve been lucky enough to have skated with him throughout his career, watching him blossom and grow from strength to strength. There is no pretence to his skating. He is solid and strong and has developed to the extent that tricks others find difficult he can do with ease. I wish him all the best for the future and look forward to watching him progress even further.
I have known Dan Collins for around ten years now. In this time, I have seen and continue to see him reach new levels of maturity in style, personality and coherency not only through skating but on a personal level, too. He has become someone that I would consider a close friend, always down for a session wherever it may be and whose love for rollerblading is tenacious and still continues to grow stronger. His style is synonymous to his personality. It can be both delicate and rugged raw at the same time and his versatility in being able to skate street, park and anything else in between is an enviable quality in any rollerblader.
Name, age and years skating?
My name is Daniel Collins, I’m 22 and I have been skating around 12 years.
Tell us about your family and the influence that they have played in your skating.
My family have always been very supportive of me and this has definitely influenced my skating in a positive way. They helped me travel to attend events and competitions when I was a kid and never told me to stop when I was coming home broken from sessions. My mum manages hospitals so I got to skip the queue in A&E a fair few times!
Do you have a pivotal moment that sticks in your head that made you feel like you had made it on a personal level?
There have been a few. Grinding my first handrail was an incredible sense of achievement. It’s that moment when you realise that you might actually be able to do the things you have seen in videos or magazines. Getting hooked up by Loco Skates was also a good moment. It’s a great feeling when you think that there are people who like your skating enough to support you and want you to represent their brand.
When you first started skating did you think that you would see yourself where you are today?
Not at all, I remember wanting to one day be good enough to do some of the things that inspired me but never really thought I would get to that standard of skating. I remember when I had only been skating a year or so seeing some of the OG skaters in London killing ledges and rails. I still find it strange that I am now skating at a similar level with some of the people that inspired me as a kid.
What do you attribute to getting as good at skating as you have?
Perseverance and practice, when I was starting out some things seemed totally unachievable but with time you gain confidence. When I progress and become more confident in my skills, my ambitions also progress and I believe I can achieve more.
Do you have a pre-session ritual?
Not really, every session is different. I find that the best sessions arise unexpectedly. Sometimes if I try and get myself super juiced to skate and over hype the session it can have the opposite effect due to expecting too much. I think it’s better to just go skate and see what happens.
What is the best place that you have been able to skate?
As far as street spots go, I would have to say the old Mayor’s Office ledges in London. Maybe it’s just me being nostalgic but, man, that place was sick! Some of the best sessions I can remember were had there. Skatepark wise, I would have to say Saughton Park in Edinburgh. We went there on tour and it is definitely one of the best I have been to.
Which UK skaters impress you most at the moment?
That’s a hard one because there are so many sick skaters in the UK right now. Names that come to mind are Elliot Stevens, Dan Ives, Joe Atkinson, Nick Lomax, Alex Burston and Leon Humphries.
What goes through your head just before you lace a big trick?
Absolutely nothing, during the build up there are all sorts of things going through my head. The mind games that every skater is familiar with but I find that just before I lace a big trick there is a moment of clarity where my mind is completely blank, free of all distractions. I think it’s just being so focused on that one particular thing that you forget about everything else.
What was your favourite pair of skates?
The first pair of skates I bought brand new was a set of Aaron Fienberg Classic Thrones. I skated them until every part was absolutely trashed and learned so much on them so they definitely stick in my mind. I am currently riding the Valo Light black and wines with Create Originals frames and Eulogy Wheels and I can happily say it is the best set-up I have ever skated in terms of comfort and performance.
What do you do when you are not skating?
I play a lot of poker so I am often at the casino. Other than that, just the obvious things such as chilling with mates and listening to music or going out and trying my luck with the ladies. I also enjoy cooking.
What is your current day job and how do you find it dealing with the work/life/skating balance?
I work here and there as a barista, making coffees in a bistro. I make money at poker so that contributes quite a bit to my income. I like to consider myself as a bit of an entrepreneur and I am always interested in finding new ways to make money. I try and keep my work life as flexible as possible to allow me enough free time to skate.
What music motivates you to skate?
All sorts really, good music is good music and there are tunes from any genre that can get you juiced. I would say, at the moment, mostly ‘90s hip-hop and good drum and bass.
How do you feel that the rollerblading industry, media in particular, has changed in the time that you have been skating?
At first you had to wait for a magazine or a full video to drop before you could see new skating, now there are thousands of media updates and edits available at the click of a mouse. I think that sometimes production value gets a little bit lost because of some people’s haste to get things out there quickly. I would much rather wait and see an amazing finished article than watch a thousand half assed edits slapped together and posted online without much care or attention to detail. On the whole, I think it’s a good thing though as it allows people to be totally up-to-date with everything anywhere in the world all of the time. And sometimes all you need is a quick little edit for things like competition results or new product promos. Anyway, it’s nice to stumble across a little gem whilst sifting through the swathes of crap. I call it the TK Maxx effect.
What are your top 3 Video Sections of all time?
Louie Zamora – VG14, Dustin Latimer – Brain Fear Gone, Aaron Fienberg – Words
What do you think is the future?
The kids starting out skating right now are the future, all around the world there are kids trying crazy stuff and pushing the boundaries of what we think can be achieved on skates. The level of skating is so high right now that I can’t even think of the things that will be getting done to better it.
What do you hope that the future will hold for you?
I just hope I can keep having fun skating whilst pushing myself to get better and stay fit and healthy.
Who have been your biggest influences in skating?
Louie Zamora, Aaron Fienberg and Dom Sagona were all skaters I looked up to as a kid but, really, the biggest influences were and continue to be the people that kept me skating when I was a kid. The ones that introduced me to, and made me feel included in, the lifestyle of blading and without whom I would probably not still be skating today: Ed Inglis, Rob Glanville, Ben Walker, Leon Humphries and Gareth Morton.
What Influences your style?
Hard to say, I try not to imitate any sort of style as I think it is something that should develop organically. The mood I am in often determines my style of skating.
Who are your favourite people to skate with?
Anyone whose name has already come up in this interview, and all the Loco boys – not forgetting all the Kingston warriors. Pretty much any of the sick guys I have met through skating.
If you had a time machine and you could go back in time to any session that you have skated where would it be, at which time and with whom?
There have been way too many amazing sessions for me to single one out and I am sure there are still many more to come. I would rather just wait for the next one and enjoy it when I’m there.
Any last words or people you would you like to give thanks to?
Thank you to everybody at Wheel Scene for giving me this opportunity to speak, all of my amazing friends and family for being generally awesome. Coop for taking sick photos and putting up with me being a kiln at spots and not forgetting the boss man, Jake Eley, and the boys at Loco Skates for hooking me up.
Words: Gareth Morton Photos: Sam Cooper
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