Checking in with Jojo Jacobi

Interview by Oliver Nermerich
Pics by Sebastian Hofer, Felix Strosetzki, Benjamin Büttner, Sascha Krautz

Hey Jojo, thanks you are taking your time to answer a few questions for be-mag!
Hey Olli, it’s a pleasure as always!

What have you been up to lately? After the Winterclash in February it somehow went quiet around Mr. Jacobi. You did some skating tours in  
Europe with Valo and Ignition but since that we didn’t see that much from you anymore. So what’s going on? What are you doing these days?

I didn’t really go on trips with Ignition but you’re right with the Valo tour. Right after the FISE in Montpellier I joined this year’s Valo Europe tour which was a totally new experience for me. A little later I went to the Roskilde Festival again but besides that I didn’t travel as much as I did the last couple years. I rather tried – and still try – to figure out which direction I should go now and tried to focus on getting a job and make some money. Took me a while if I look back but it finally seems that things are falling into place now.

For the last couple years you took care of the German Rollerblading platform risemagazine. But now, you are not taking care of the website  
and content anymore. Why did you stop working for it and who is now taking care of that?

After this year’s Winterclash I got kinda lost and didn’t know what to do and how to continue. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be as involved in Rollerblading as before and after I while I figured out that I should focus on other things, such as paying rent and stop dreaming of “making a living from working in the Rollerblading industry” (which was an still is hard, since I put so much into this sport). I don’t know… I just didn’t have fun anymore. No fun while skating, no fun while doing risemagazine and other Rolling-related stuff. I just started to question everything and that’s when I felt it was time to slow down a bit. Right now Gagi Wagenblast is running risemagazine and as far as I know he is working on a new concept to make Germany’s only online magazine running smoothly again.

Shooting for a Jojo Jacobi profile, shot by Benjamin Büttner

Wow. I fully understand your position. But we are loosing a qualified man. So for now, you are backing out a bit? And chances are good you are coming back as soon as you got a real job? Did I get this right?
Not sure about that. A “real job” means earning some money in first part, with a job that I don’t 100% see as my future and which I don’t love as much as organizing events and realizing projects on my own and/ or with a great team. That’s just until I paid back what has to be paid back. As soon as I see light at the end of the tunnel again I want to start “own projects” again, but this time it will most probably not be Rollerblading related. I got so many ideas for loads of different stuff and in the past I put all my time and energy in Rollerblading and got kinda stuck with other dreams and plans. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret anything, it’s just that I can’t/ don’t want to put 100% into it anymore. But I´m sure once the money issue is sorted I want and I will be involved a little more again – as long as the (money related) risk isn’t as high as in the past. The goal in first place is working in the event business, on my own, and making money with it. And that’s something which isn’t possible in Rollerblading. But hey, I’m not complaining or crying about it. It is like it is and I will definitely not be gone. Too much happened in last years and I had the probably best time of my life. So I will be here and there. Just not as much as in the past…

Massive crowd at the Winterclash 2010, shot by Sebastian Hofer

The Winterclash 2010 was by far one of the biggest events in Rollerblading to date. I have never seen a crowd going that loud. The  
competitors provided a show that was unique in our sport’s history. It was a professional event and it was truly “This time, Big time”. But some  
people say that the event was too big for our small sport. What do you say to that?

It definitely was too big! When we started to plan the whole thing we just wanted too much. We wanted to attract a non-rolling crowd and for sure more Rollerbladers than ever. We totally believed in our “vision” and totally ignored the fact that there was a chance that people would just not pay to see Rollerblading. I (and I guess the rest of the WC team did as well) believed in the power of Rollerblading and that people would come to watch the show, once they find out about it on posters, in the radio and with all the other promotion. In the end it was a hard awakening, but by then it was already too late. We invested too much money, lost too much money…

Winterclash 2010 venue

But there was a non-rolling crowd present at the Clash. I talked to different people that have nothing to do with Rolling. I saw some parents coming with their children checking out the action. Of course the rolling-crowd dominated the venue, but you didn’t fully miss your goal. Do you have any idea how many people have attended the event in total?
We didn’t fully miss the goal, that’s true. But after promoting the event in the radio, on posters, stickers, online, magazines and newspapers and even in the metro TV we expected more non-rolling people. Most of the non-rolling people who went to see the Winterclash won a ticket, since we did a lot of raffles in the radio and on websites. Also we had a huge guestlist for media people or non rolling companies. So almost nobody came there and bought a ticket. Which is maybe also because the price was too high and Berlin people are spoiled, but it wasn’t possible to put the price lower! In the end we had a little more than 1500 people, of which only around 1300 paid entrance.

Due to all the responsibility and risk you had – not only during the days of the event, but also six months ahead of it – you have been super super stressed. So what do you think about the event now by having a bit more distance to it? What was your personal highlight? And what’s your final conclusion?
I think we organized something great, we made loads of Rollerbladers happy and we all learned a lot about organizing real events. My personal highlight… Hm, I guess there are two: One highlight for sure was to see how the team worked their asses of with so much dedication and for no money. Everybody was doing something they might have never done before and since we were wayyyy too less people for such an event I still think its insane how everything worked out and how everybody worked together. It’s hard to understand if you’re not involved, but this time there was more to do then “only” painting a park, hire securities and put somebody to hand out the wristbands. In the last month before the event we were a team of 5-6 people of which only two Rollerblade (including myself) and we often worked up to 18 hours a day in the office. At the event itself we were more than 50 people involved and everybody worked their ass off. I can’t put in words how thankful I am to every single person who helped out. Definitely a highlight to see that.
The other highlight would be Sven Boekhorst landing his 450 Farv to Topsoul and the party afterwards. When everybody started to freak out, dance and scream I could for a few seconds forget about the depths and the pressure. Everybody was happy in this moment and that’s what all the work and all the effort was put for. To let people enjoy Rollerblading and have an unforgettable time together. Final conclusion? Everybody had a great time, the event turned out great, we learned a lot, but the financial losses are way too high…

The Dutch party after Sven Boekhorst trick, shot by Sebastian Hofer

Word has it that two days before the event kicked off the city almost didn’t accredit the event due to a lack of safety regulations. Is this  
true? And how did you get this again managed finally?

The Berlin office or order (regulatory agency) had their problems with the skatepark we had rented. Everything was already a bit too old and the safety regulations in Berlin are higher than in other parts of Germany or Europe. They wanted to see too many papers which we couldn’t provide, so they told us to find a way to prove the stability of the park on paper somehow. Thanks to our technical director we found a way and after a lot of talking we were allowed to continue building – but on our own risk. At events this size it’s all about the calculation of risk and about who is in charge if something bad happens.  

I can imagine. So you took over all the responsibility by yourself, right? Seeing the happenings at the Loveparade 2010 in Duisburg being an organizer of big events is not an easy task.
Not 100% sure who would have been responsible. It was a chaos and in the end it would be my technical director, myself, the technical director of the event venue, the skatepark company and maybe the event venue as well. Tricky to say who’s fault it would be if something would have happened, but everybody tried to push the responsibility to the other before it got to that point. And yes, the Loveparade 2010 showed how important it is to invest that much time in safety concepts and that it’s always hard to say who is responsible in the end. Better be on the safe side!???

How do you usually tackle that kind of pressure and stress. Any recommendations for our readers and the people that want to organize rolling events themselves?
I guess that’s nothing you can learn. You are able to function in stress situations or you are not. But if there’s anything I can say about that I guess I would recommend that you need to believe in what you want to. If you believe in it and if you feel you got the power for it, it will work out in some way and in most cases it’s totally worth the effort afterwards! And without a little stress and some pressure it would be boring anyway, right?

Yes. One question we are all interested in is the following: Will there be a Winterclash 2011 and where will it be?
Nothing is 100% sure yet, but it looks like there will be a Winterclash 2011. No details yet, since we didn’t really start planning. But we will soon be able to give you some details! But one thing is already sure: It will be much smaller than the last one and more “back to the roots, back to basic”. 🙂

I also heard you will be working on a special event with Alex Schneider (Be-Mag photographer in Berlin) and Benny Harmanus? So  
what’s the deal about that?

True true… But that’s not going to be anything connected to Rollerblading. Alex and I are helping Benny Harmanus organizing a Gaming Event in Berlin. Benny started that a couple of years back and now we are moving it to Berlin, give it a new face and connect Games with Music and Art. Exciting to see how that works out, since it’s kind of my first real event outside of Rollerblading.

Be-Mag is excited to see how this will be working out for you guys! Keep us updated, ok? It’s hard to believe you won’t be implementing any rolling-related stuff. Would be a good opportunity to gain more attention from outside?
In one of the past events of this kind Benny had a skate area. But this time the location will be way smaller and skating wouldn’t fit in the concept at all. And gaining more attention from the outside? Not sure if anybody of us would be ready to put energy and money risk in trying that again in Berlin, after the Winterclash 😉

Are you attending any skating events this year. Where can we meet Jojo and skate with him?
Not sure. Right now I got nothing planned really. I want to film a section for an (eastern) German movie called “Here We Are” with my friends from Dresden.
Maybe if I can afford it I would like to visit two events in Germany in the next weeks and besides that the only thing I would like to do is going to Copenhagen. But you never know, time will show…

Jojo doing not an easy gap in Berlin, shot by Sascha Krautz

What’s going on in Copenhagen? And which events are we talking about? There will be once again the YOU-Messe (Europe’s biggest Youth trade show) in Berlin and they will be hosting again a 2 Star-WRS Spine-Comp. Last year you moderated this event, this year you may be competing, right? This is part of the new Jacobi? More skating?
Copenhagen is just the place to be and loads of our friends are living there. All of my friends here are good friends with the Copenhagen locals and our connection is closer than to most of the other cities in this small world. So we are going there to meet up with the friends and having great times.
The two events I plan to attend are the “180° Festival in Halle (Skate, BMX, Inline) and the “Revelation Cup” in Giessen. Two events organized by friends.
Not sure about the YOU Messe yet, since my ankle is fucked and I can only grind even less then I did before anyways. Not the best for attending a Spineramp competition. But yep, I will be there for sure and skate a little. And if that’s part of the new Jacobi… Not sure. I guess I want want to focus on having fun while skating again and I this means more session with friends and smaller events.

Thank you so much for your time. And take care of yourself, ok?
Thank you for this opportunity! I´m on my best way to finally take a bit more care of myself, so thank you! See you soon Olli!