Introduction and Photos | Jonathan Labez | @JMLabez

The world at large is in an ectopic place. Borders are shuttering, commerce is coming to a halt, people’s better judgments are clouded by baser instincts to hoard and panic, daily life has been supplanted by precarious day to day living, gatherings of any substantial sort are embargoed. The antithesis of Winterclash.

It’s a stark contrast to scan through images taken weeks ago of people at their best, surrounded by a borderless community that means the world to them. Bubbling away was a pandemic while those in attendance lived a carefree cacophony. For a second, you think what if all of this had happened a month earlier and left thousands stranded or infected? Not that most rollerbladers are in the affected age ranges anyway. It leaves me pondering on the schism between existence then and existence now. Thousands in a packed warehouse compared to hard limitations on occupancy just to enter a market. Full body contact with swarms of people in one moment and social distancing at all costs in the present. One instance is full of elation; another filled with dystopian dread.

That for me was a major consideration not to drop these photos as originally planned at the end of last week. For America, it had become a national emergency. How do you focus on the positive when the world around you is so uncertain? How do you pretend all is well in our niche community when that’s only a slice of reality? Maybe these images will come to represent something to look forward to. A return to normalcy. To something beyond ourselves that brings out the best in people rather than the worst. A reminder of the community we’re a part of regardless of borders and creeds.

To the new and old blade family I met in Eindhoven; to everyone reading this — stay safe.

Jonathan Labez, Photo Editor at Be-Mag

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