So good friend and recent SC transplant, Mike Torres, has been living here for a couple years now and just recently put together this edit of himself. I thought it would be cool for the rest of the world to see what this guy has been up to and to get an insight on how he’s been living since he’s made the move to the purdiest city in the south, read on.
Let’s start out simple, age, location, and years skating.
Hello world, my name is Mike Torres, I am 30 years young, I am currently living in Greenville, SC, and I’ve been skating around 18 years.
So for those who don’t know, tell us about your current location, why you’re here and how life/skating is different living in the heart of the bible belt.
A couple years ago I was offered a position as a director of photography at an agency down here in SC. I remember being pretty hesitant to move down to the south when I first heard about the opportunity, but I can honestly say that it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made from a professional, and even social standpoint. Blading down here has been pretty awesome so far. It’s a new city to me, so it’s been fun to approach some of the more classic spots around here from a totally different perspective. It’s intimidating to go to some of these spots that have been crushed by people like Tim Taylor, Arsenio Patterson, Garrett Slobey, Adam McManus, and Nick Bates, I know I’m not as good or crazy as those dudes so I just try to get weird with it and skate their spots in a unique way. It’s pretty gratifying to me when I hear “wow, I have never thought of skating this like that” from a local who’s been blading the spot for 10+ years.
This edit you released with this interview showcases your skating from 2013. when you put everything together it looks pretty damn good and you obviously put in some work, in a bunch of different cities, talk a little bit about what you’ve accomplished/motivation to create this piece.
So this is just another compilation edit, just the best clips from the last year of skating. My last couple of edits have been the same way. Some of this footage was in a video I made called FIRST GO, which was a long format edit of some buddies and me going to London and Barcelona, some of the footage was in a video called The Orchard, which is a Rochester, NY based video made by Kris Troyer, and almost ALL of the footage was originally intended for your video, Gooder Than Hell. The reason I decided to release everything early is because fuck Dodge.
Just kidding, the reason I am releasing everything when I am is because I knew I wanted to create an edit that encompassed all of my 2013 footage early in 2014. When separated, I think the footage I had in FIRST GO/The Orchard, and what ever was left for GTH was kind of weak, but I knew if I were to combine all of this footage into one edit, it’d be a little more impressive, and a better look into my skating for 2013. Unfortunately that would mean stealing all of my Gooder Than Hell footage, but it’s okay because I definitely plan on throwing down this year and gathering enough footage to fill my part in the video. If I was better at skating I probably could have filmed enough to make this edit without dipping into the GTH stuff, but thems the breaks.
Barcelona has become somewhat of Blade Mecca in recent years, you had the opportunity to go, tell us about that.
My favorite part of Barcelona was how normal blading was there. There’s a clip in this edit of me doing some cones in Barcelona. That location is like this huge gathering spot for all sorts of people on blades. On Wednesday nights hundreds of people gather there on blades and you’ll see people killing the cones, people skating around in circles just practicing their fundamentals, people doing choreographed dancing, and people launching a ramp over a high bar. It was like taking a time machine back to the early days of Rollerblade’s street demos with AJ Jackson and Doug Boyce. It was first time I’ve seen so many random people that excited about inline skating in a long long time.
What is the story behind the Stretch Tour?
The idea of The Stretch Tour all started with my buddy Dan Birch, who we all know as UK Dan. He called me up one day from his Skype phone and asked if I’d want to go on a cross-country trip with him in some type of ridiculous automobile. Naturally, despite my dismal financial situation at the time, the answer was yes, so we immediately started looking into buying ridiculous cars, from hot rods/convertibles, to old-school buses/limousines. The more people I told about this prospective trip, the more people that wanted to get involved, so we had to decide on a vehicle that could fit a good amount of people. Ultimately we landed on the first car we looked at, a white 1989 Lincoln Town Car Limousine with the word “STRETCH” printed on all the door handles. There are WAY too many stories to tell about this trip, so I’ll only tell this one:
Our buddy Neil from Long Island met up with us while we were on our first stop in NYC. His original plan was to come down to Philly with us after NYC, stay there for a day, then take the bus back home so he could go back to work and fulfill some other obligations he had. He brought his skates, one change of clothes, 20 bucks, and a tuxedo… That’s it. At some point during a night of extreme inebriation at some bar in Philly, it was decided that Neil had to stay on tour with us. So, with almost no money, one change of clothes, and a tuxedo, he did what anyone in that situation would do and bought a loaf of Wonder Bread, a jar of peanut butter, stole a bunch of Taco Bell hot sauce packets, and bought another outfit at a thrift store. Fast forward a week, and here’s Neil, at a club in ATL, with $2.50 to his name, wearing his thrift store polo, and operating on a diet solely consisting of peanut butter & hot sauce sandwiches, and Pabst Blue Ribbon, dazzling a few young african american ladies on the dance floor. Next thing you know, Neil’s no where to be found, and neither is this chick he’s been chatting up. Thinking we had completely lost him, we decide to retreat back to the limo, only to find it rocking back and forth with the back windows fogged up. After a small amount of heckling we let them be, and waited it out at a Waffle House. When Neil met up with us his face exuded the joy of the Nintendo 64 kid as he simply stated, “I banged my first black chick”, then went straight to the bathroom. A few minutes later he came back to the table, stuffed some pancakes into his face and said these infamous words, “I just washed my dick in a Waffle House……. And that’s The Stretch Tour”. Neil is now a lawyer.
That should just about sum up all you need to know about the tour. I’m working on a very long/outdated video of the tour, that I’m going to release as different episodes. It should be funny.
With all the traveling and cities you’ve been in, what has been your favorite blade trip memory to date?
I’ve done quite a bit of traveling over the past four years. Most of it was for work, but I never traveled without my blades, so naturally every trip became a blade trip. I’ve bladed A LOT of different cities, and met a ton of different people because of that job. But I have to say my favorite blade trip so far was just a long weekend we took to Montreal, Quebec for my birthday in 2011. It was Nate Hall, Steve Bruning, Justin Brasco, Tim Adams, and me. The reason it was so awesome was because A) Arcade Fire was playing a free show in the middle of the city on my birthday, B) We were somehow immune to hangovers this weekend. We partied every night, somehow got up at a reasonable hour, took the elevator up to the rooftop pool, jumped in and immediately sobered up (September in Canada = 50° pool), then put our skates on in search of spots and skated as if nothing happened the night before. It was perfect.
In your opinion, who are some people who are doing it right with video in the industry?
There are so many people who are doing awesome things in the blade video world right now. I love that everyone has been taking it in their own directions as well. Ivan just keeps producing the cleanest and most professional products in all of rollerblading, SK just released what is probably the rawest video to come out in the last 5 years, and The Breakfast guys continue to nail it with bits/humor incorporated into skate videos (SPIN EM JOHNNN). I really admire what all those guys are doing. However, I have to admit that I’ve been a pretty big fanboy for all things Canada lately. The last few edits Danny Beer has made, Imagine Blade Shun, and all the stuff that comes from the Mushroom Blading guys is just so unlike anything else being produced in blading that it actually has the ability to surprise even the most veteran of bladers.
And in Blading?
The Canada thing definitely transcends just the video side of things. I’ve just really been admiring how those guys challenge what is “acceptable” in this hobby that we all got into because it didn’t have any rules. But if you want I can just name a bunch of people who get me super juiced to blade every time they put something new out - Broskow, Leon, SK/CK, Soichiro, Sizemore, Richie, Nemo, Schoolboy, Werbeski… I don’t know there’s probably more.
Plans for 2014 with skating?
As of two days ago I’m realizing a good chunk of my 2014 might be dedicated to rehabbing my right shoulder. I probably need to get surgery, as I have dislocated it 7 times in the last 3 years, which is a real bummer. I’m not sure when that is going to be, maybe early spring or fall. Other than that, we have a pretty good group of dudes lined up to blade it up in Puerto Rico this month, so that should be pretty bad ass. If my shoulder will hold up, the next goal will obviously be to film for Gooder Than Hell.
Why the Big Wheels?
I’m not sure why the act of big wheeling has struck such a chord with me, but it definitely has. I think it’s just put me in such a different state of mind when I’m out skating. When I lived back in Rochester, there were a couple times when Steve, Grant, Tim, and I would stop grinding. We coined this as “Nogrinderblading”. We learned to skate spots in a whole new way, and sometimes those new approaches would end up with us grinding objects that we never used to look at. By limiting ourselves one way, we opened up all sorts of doors in other ways. This is not a new concept, but I think it really applied for me when I started big wheeling. When I first got them I naturally thought, “well, grinds are a going to be a no-go, so let’s see where else I can take this”. With that, I started rolling what I thought was un-rollable, fast planting what I thought was un-plantable, and carving radiuses that I thought were un-carvable. It’s an amazing thing to be 15+ years into something, arrogantly think you’ve seen and tried everything that has to do with it, only to be blown away in the simplest ways by something so familiar.
Does that make sense?
And finally, shotouts?
I just want to thank the Rochester dudes for not forgetting about me, The South for accepting me into their scene, Leon/Joey/Todd for creating BIG WHEELS, Thomas Martin for inspiring me to mono-roll skinny objects (maybe I’ll have one or two of those in my next edit, I’m still learning them), and Dodge for the job/life hookup. Peace!