‘Rom Boys : 40 Years of Rad’ is the revealing story behind England’s most important skate park, and the people that grew up in this heaven of concrete and art.
Directed by: Matt Harris.
Country: United Kingdom.
Running time: 79 minutes.
One of the reasons why I appreciate living in today’s era of information availability, is that I can never stop learning about stuff. I believe everything it’s of importance at least to some degree. The good, the bad and the ugly. Everything deserves analysis. And when it comes to culture, we face something curious: Even if you learn everything about something that took place years ago, someone who lived those events will have advantage over you. It’s nothing regarding lack of knowledge. It’s about the feeling of being in someplace in a precise moment.
With documentaries we usually get an express masterclass. Tons of information put together in a fancy montage. Short interviews that reveal stuff about a final affirmation.
But with Rom Boys : 40 Years of Rad, we go one step further. It’s not a fancy documentary, and it’s not so informative as it could be. But the effort put behind the building of a message is as strong as it needs to be.
On one side we have a culture that’s always been kind of misunderstood. Biking and skating have been attributed to the “bad boys”. Since the end of the 70’s, it has evolved a lot, but it hasn’t regrown again. Skate parks were a big thing then. When the lords of Dogtown started breaking into California’s mansions to skate in empty pools, some pioneers tried to build these magnificent structures that didn’t have to be shared by those who were behind the scrutiny of skate culture. They were not vandals, they were fluent with creativity. One of the parks created during that time was The Rom, a large complex of elements where skaters and bikers could do their best. It was located in Hornchurch, in east London. The Rom had survived all these years as a fantastic setting for learning and sharing everything about the members of the skating culture. In 2014, it was declared as a heritage asset in England. Yes, it’s that important.
In 2018, the owner had to close its doors. And now The Rom needs our help. And this documentary is a perfect chance for motivation.
Rom Boys : 40 Years of Rad is not what you’d expect from a documentary about an important place. It’s way more than that. The film tells the story of the boys who built it, rode it, and now sit in front of the camera declaring why they refused to “grow up and become men”. The Rom Boys are a large group of people who grew up in this concrete playground and never let go of their convictions to try to be the best without destroying their peers. The movie is a collection of revelations of those that did something profitable out of skating, and those that still ride just for fun. But those conversations share an important aesthetic and attitude. These are the guys that decided to overcome everything by falling down and getting up all day. They got hurt over and over, and nothing broke their smiles. Few things feel more optimistic than the testimonies shown in the movie.
If you ever considered that a building had to be saved, ask yourself why. Why is it important to salvage stuff that time has brutally deteriorated? If you don’t find a reason, the fascinating enlightenment about skating culture explained in Rom Boys : 40 Years of Rad will be more than enough.