In-liners (aka rollerbladers) arrived in London parks in 1991; since then, Quaddies (good ol' fashioned "four-by-four" roller skaters) have watched skating take a nosedive as the parks introduce increasingly draconian restrictions. Rollerbladers now monopolise what's left of Hyde Park's skate paths, while Quaddies have given up on green space altogether and taken to the streets. Go to Trafalgar Square (above) any Sunday night and you will see up to 150 of them showing off their boots to music. The Quaddies wouldn't mind being ousted if it wasn't for the fact that rollerblading was so naff. In-liners may boast Bruce Willis, the Princess of Wales and Barbie among their number, but, Quaddies insist, the sport is a passing fad, already on the way out. To be truly trendy, you need four wheels.
We're not talking clothes here, but attitude. Quad-wear is a far cry from the Lycra-and-rucksack look favoured by In-liners (Quaddies opt for loose grey clothing and - a vital accessory, this - the decorative "puffer", a strip of grubby brightness around the ankle). Quad-attitude is simple: "We are skate hooligans," 21-year-old Martin "Sparky" Pepperell says proudly.
In Trafalgar Square last Sunday, the talk was mostly of the latest "street skate". "There were 30 of us holding on to two cars," says Pepperell. "We were three deep at the back. Even the buses couldn't get past." Talk turns to "Crazy Dave", who once "did a Lamborghini". Not to be outdone, Pepperell claims a Porsche and a limo: "I was doing 40, my hat flew off, my wheels were on fire."
Taiaran Robinson, a 27-year-old student, is another Trafalgar Square regular. Not only can he do all the usual tricks ("Barrel rolls", "360s", "side-surfs", "power-stops", and the "grape-vine"), he is also a supreme dancer. "If I fall down, I'll style it in," he says.
So what is the essential difference between In-liners and Quaddies? Simple, one Quaddie says sniffily: In-liners skate after work, weather permitting, and only if they've remembered their knee-pads. A Quaddie skates to work and works to skate: "These are my shoes," she says.Reuse content