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Hosted by Raoul Sabin

We had the chance to have a conversation with Nora Vasconcellos. This is the result:


Raisa: You ready for this?

Nora: …nope.

Raisa: Where is skateboarding headed these days? Olympics? Pandemic …

Nora: Down the shitter…

Raoul: Where do you think skateboarding is going (for you)? There's a lot going on in skateboarding. The girls are coming up and changing the game and then there’s also the pandemic that kind of shut everything down. Now that the Olympics are over… what’s your opinion? I know I got mine, I’d like to know yours.

Nora: Yeah. So, I did contests for a long time. But the only reason I did contests was so that I could maybe make some money and just skate more. Cause basically girls were not getting sponsored, or going on trips and I think that was really the only avenue that I saw initially. And so I did contests for a while, I got to travel, did the whole thing. The Olympics were ran so poorly in terms of the information that was given and the qualifying. Thank God there were people like Mimi (Knoop) involved who really made it so that there was as much fairness and proper involvement! I think the Olympics are hit or miss. There was so much hype and then it was done. Just like that. But I think the best part about the Olympics is obviously that people that will get to experience skateboarding, who otherwise wouldn’t have. Other countries are getting programs, sponsorships and deals that will bring skating to people who genuinely need it. And then also I see in the US like now like every town is gonna have to have a skatepark. 

Raoul: I was gonna say, for me now the Olympics a big step up in terms of ways of thinking about skateboarding. Skateboarding is becoming the new basketball. 

Raisa: Yeah, surprisely my boyfriend is building skateparks in schools!

Nora: I love that! 

Raoul: So how’s it gonna affect it?

Nora: That’s a good change. But I have also learned that that’s just not for me, and that’s ok. 

Raoul: In regards to the female skating community being on the rise, where do you see it going towards? You’re a big part of this history.

Nora: Yeah it’s really good. I’m excited that there’s so much support now and there’s so much space for all different types of skaters. I think for so long there only was this one type of skater that could exist. Or that you had to fit this certain mold. And then when women started getting sponsorships it was like you had to be marketable, you had to be sexy and have long hair. And basically we need you to be almost like eye candy. I would see the sponsors, I would see things moving and I was like dude, it’s so fucked! The interest that men had on girls and sponsoring… it just didn’t seem authentic. It felt sexualized and shitty. I just feel like if you were not a traditional woman in the sense of how you presented yourself you weren’t… you know. And I just felt like it was detrimental because that’s not even about skateboarding at that point.

Raoul: So for me the female scene actually is breaking barriers. There was an era in America when you had to do hammers, you just had to (to be considered a valid skateboarder). In 1993, you had to be technical. There were so many limitations. Now we’re back to the fun stuff, you can just be yourself and have fun!

Nora: Yeah! I think it’s so much more open and more about enjoying the art of skating versus having to be this super macho personality which is also pretty fucked up. The jock side of skating is like fucking gross, I don’t know why we want more Danny Way’s. We actually don’t need that, the world needs less of that energy and way more raw skating. And that’s not saying that you can’t be the best and all that. Just look at someone like Ishod. I think Ishod captures it perfectly, where you have this extremely likable and hard working guy who amits skating in all the purest forms. At the core just a skate rat, but he’s also wildly successful and talented, in terms of actual progression. But, he’s not a dickhead!

Raisa: Yeah, that combination is important.

Raoul: I’m asking questions about the 90s cause the community was like: there are no gay people in skating! And I got a gay friend that can guarantee that’s false.

Nora: There’s A LOT of gays.

Raoul: I know people in Barcelona that are bi or gay who weren't allowed in skateboarding in the 90s. It was all macho. But the non binary scene and women’s scene are breaking this.

Nora: Oh completely!

Raoul: You don’t have to wear, WE don’t have to wear big pants or hoodies or whatever.

Nora: You can do whatever you want. I think a lot of it too comes from the exploitation of people. Like the way that pop culture works. I think it happened even more so in places that have a lot of success and money. That’s the entertainment industry: sex sells. I just think it’s really fucked up how a lot of that is portrayed but it’s rad now just in the sense that we are now in this space that people can be themselves and minorities have completely taken over.

Raoul: Things have changed so much from two years ago for example. I have two daughters so there are a lot of things that I learnt. We’re gonna talk in feminist ways. Women in skating for me are, really really cool. But also in everything else: the 'me too' movement… I don’t know what will happen but the good is (happening) globally. 

Nora: Well I think skateboarding provides a really safe space for people, especially mentally. If you had (been) abused or you come from very difficult backgrounds or you don’t have a voice, I think skateboarding creates that for so many people and it’s very accessible. Like there are kids in Africa who literally are building skateboards out of clay wheels. The fact that kids can get a skateboard and figure out how to do it on a dirt road, it’s actually such a simple practice. In the US during the pandemic, there were so many people who learned to skateboard cause all they could do was be in their driveway or be on the sidewalk or in their garage. So I think that aspect of it is incredible and right now it’s just like the perfect combination of enough people who have found skateboarding and have created a community. And now it’s just something for everyone.

Raoul: There are a lot of influences that went into that. So, next question …

(Everybody laughs)

Raoul: No no no, because we could talk about it, I love it, talking and hearing about these things. So what did you do during the pandemic? I mean, how do you feel about the pandemic? I had a great time with my girls but at the same time there were lots of contradictory feelings. 

Nora: I was in Hawaii for a lot of it. I definitely enjoyed a lot of it. I felt like I was in my own time, I knew I didn’t have to leave, I could stay put where I wanted to be. There was definitely this ease, there was a lot of rest. So that was really nice. But I think my experience was so different than most people’s pandemic experience. 

Raoul: Everybody has their own pandemic story. Did you got contradictions? Because the first thing I was thinking in the pandemic was ‘ok Raoul, you’re gonna find a lot of contradictions’. I mean that feeling guilty, feeling good. Wearing the mask is a good safety measure, but I also know we eventually have to move on.

Nora: Yeah! Yeah! Exactly! Cause you were like people are sick and dying. But we’ll have to move on from the restrictions at some point. I think one of the most important things about it for me was figuring out what is important to me in terms of my day to day. I learned that I love surfing and I really got to spend time doing that, which was really healing and that’s important for me for where I wanna live. And it’s important to make time for those things because you can find yourself busy and traveling and that for me was a big pull.

Raoul: So, now that most of it has passed, what’s your plan? You got an enterprise or a business or something?

Nora: I just wanna do my best skateboarding in terms of traveling and filming. I wanna travel again, see people I haven’t seen in a long time and go to new places. And also really just try to do my best skateboarding. I’ve talked about doing something like that. My only issue with the business side of things is that there’re so many creative ways to do things, I wanna do something that’s rad, and also I wanna do it in a sustainable way. I could just go and make t-shirts and make this and that. At the end of the day I’m such a fucking consumer, like I love shopping…

(Everybody laughs)

Nora: I love doing all that stuff and I think that that’s cool and that it’s also like, I don’t know…

Raoul: Contradictions. You have to embrace your contradictions!

Nora: Yeah. So, I’m definitely not certain if that’s something that I’m fully invested in or  wanna do eventually, but the best part is I do have the resources to do that, and even like doing projects with Adidas and Welcome. I don’t feel like I’m in a rush to make some crazy business plan. I’m much more interested in doing a foundation, like some sort of non profit, and that’s more of a push for me this year. Just doing something where I can really start to kind of create some difference with people. I mean I see what Skateistan, Skate After School and all these organizations do and it’s all fantastic work. And it’s just crazy, it can be a lot of effort but I think the reward ratio is mush higher.

Raoul: So, last question. When someone goes to a place I love to ask (them) to put a ranking on the best and the worst. So what is the best and worst thing that happened to you in Barcelona these days?

Nora: I love this! I think the best is spending time getting to hang out and know people and know the city, cause I had never done that. And I feel like oftentimes I found myself in traveling because of an event or whatever it may be, and being so completely lost in whatever I’m going through. So for me this was definitely a trip in which I got more of a full experience versus in the past. So like not having regrets of missing this and that, and obviously the skating, I felt like I was super stoked on skating overall. I felt pretty rewarded after, so that was cool. But I think I also shouldn’t do edibles during daytime. I think that’s not it for Nora, and that’s ok. So that was a good thing to learn too. I also loved learning to get on the train and just putting my earphones in and zoning out.

Raisa: Oh the metro?

Nora: Yeah. Your girl never gets to do that shit.

Roxana: You never had to take a train right? Like you lived in a small town and now you’re in a place that doesn’t really have trains. That’s so… I had to take trains my entire life.

Nora: Yeah, exactly. So you’re like I want a car. Which like, I appreciate that, I do love having a car and I miss my car. At the same time I’m like, yeah no this is great, I kinda prefer this. 

Raisa: “I came by train, ALONE” 

Nora: Why do you think I’m like “hey, I’m just gonna take a train to Paris” or something, I don’t know. I just really want that vibe.

Raoul: So good! Where do you see in your future?

Nora: I really wanna own a house. I don’t want it to be big necesarelly but we’re talking about America so, compared to most places it’d be big. I like Encinitas a lot, where I’m living right now. It’s super sick cause you have the ocean and surfing and all these things that are really important to me. So, in that sense, I think Encinitas would be the zone. My brother lives there now as well so who knows, that’d be super cool if we ended up staying or living in the same place.

Raoul: Anything you wanna add? Thank you for letting us know a small side of you! I think it’s cool. Thank you so much!

Nora: I love talking about stuff. You got me going, so, thank you!

Raoul: You’re welcome. You’re welcome!


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