Patrick ‘Rocco’ Rogalski – Rille
Researching Patrick Rogalski on the internet one of the first entries that might catch the eye is that of a namesake: Patrick Rogalski, performance coach for footballers, living in Hanover (‘If you set yourself a clear goal and work on it consistently, you will live up to a potential you didn’t know you had.’, www.patrick-rogalski.com).
Well, Patrick Rogalski (the skater) is a man of goals and potential, he’s a performer in his own right. ‘Rogge’ or ‘Rocco’, as his friends call him, is a well of uplifting positivity and skate motivation. Whether or not he is out working on fulfilling goals and achieving potentials methodically optimised – or rather the happy-go-lucky-way of the naturally gifted, you’ll be able to learn a bit more about on the following pages.
Interview by Jan Kliewer
Hi Patrick, straight away: What does the Rocco-Lifestyle consist of in 2023? And for those that don’t know, could you please explain how you got the nickname?
Well, it all started with me not wanting to use social media, not owning a phone that could run Insta and Yannick Schall, my TM for Titus at the time, trying to tell me I needed an account. So in the end, he set one up for me, named it @theroccolifestyle and with some other dudes from the team started posting stuff in my name: skate footy, party pics… Rocco lifestyle… Mostly stuff I would have never posted myself. This went on for quite a
while before I finally took on the account. But I would say I’ve grown up a bit. I’m with a girl… It’s a bit more behaved these days.
Which famous Rocco do you relate most to? Rocko from Rocko’s Modern Life, Rocco Siffredi or Steve Rocco?
Well, it might have been a bit of Rocco Siffredi back in the days, but today it’s definitely Rocko from the Modern Life (laughs). My Siffredi days are over… No Steve Rocco ambitions either (laughs).
You’re originally from Goslar, a pretty old town in the Harz mountains, a touristy place with mainly older folks I would say, hikers and cross-country-skiers. How did you get into skating there?
Yeah, that’s where I grew up. I was really lucky to have a small indoor park there. That’s where I went every day after school; that’s where I got
to know other skaters. I think I started in 2001 and the park must have been around since at least a year or two prior to that. I had only heard of the place first and spent one whole summer vacation searching for it. It was rad, had a sick pyramid and everything. I was lucky, considering the size of Goslar. Plus I felt growing up there was cool to reach other places like Göttingen, Braunschweig or Hanover. I would always take the train. It was a good base to go from.
Do you still go back to skate there? Any secret Goslar spots?
My mom moved to the next town Bad Harzburg, so, not really, no. I have friends I see every now and then, but they don’t skate.
In Goslar they do have a small outdoor park these days, though, but that’s about it I think. I did help rallying to get it, but it took forever and once it came, I’d already left town. So to this day I’ve never skated it.
You were off to Braunschweig then?
Yeah, I wanted to see places and meet new people. I quickly met all the crew at Boardjunkies Skateshop, I started an internship there, finished my school and after took on an apprenticeship there. Marc Hausen, the owner there, became quite important to me because he was a man of action. He was moving things forward, had the shop, the Walhalla skatepark, was doing sales for other brands… I admired his drive. He became a bit of a father/homie figure or older brother to me; a role I had never really had in my life, since my dad died when I was nine months old. Marc and I are still in contact.
I know from André Gerlich, one of your friends from Braunschweig, you were said to have the magic gift of staying at the skatepark skating until two minutes before your train, and still managing to catch it every time. What’s the secret?
(Laughs) Staying until the very end and being very last-minute is something I’ve learned early on. The truth is though, I think I must have missed that train just as many times… returning from the station, saying, ‘Hey guys, looks like I need a bed for tonight!’ So no secrets to reveal there, sorry.
So then at one point you caught the train to Berlin. Is this where you call home now?
Definitely yes. It feels great to be here. I first started travelling here from Braunschweig, sleeping on couches, at Farid’s (Ulrich) and Yannick’s place a lot. Weekends turned into weeks, and at one point I just didn’t want to leave anymore. It’s the best.
What’s skating in Berlin like for you?
I love that there are a ton of people to skate with. I don’t stick to just one gang. I try to arrange my crews for the next session and bring people together but definitely try to keep it fresh. Skating is fluctuating here. People come to visit, to study, to work; for a day, for summer, for a year. I love the exchange. Sergio (Ben Mario) and his crew from Lübeck most recently.
On the other hand, my go-to since day one would be Hirschi (Roland Hirsch). He’s always down to skate whatever, wherever; arranges his work so he can spend most of his day skating – so that perfectly fits my schedule. We thrive off each other; it’s a match.
The way I see it, you’ve got three signature moves that you do extremely well: nollie frontside flips, flip backside noseblunts and that flippy no-comply thing (Casalla). If you could keep only one of them, which would it be?
Flip back noseblunt of course.
Gun to your head, which of those would you do down El Toro?
The Casalla flip (laughs).
André told me, when you guys would learn tricks together, you would have been that guy that could flip out of the trick an hour later. Is that true? How do you go about learning tricks? Does it come easy to you?
I don’t think I ever consciously went out to learn certain tricks. I always follow what feels fun. Progress is the result, not the goal. I don’t really get methodical about it. I don’t want to get bitter over a trick. I trust my guts and I’m patient. When I notice something is not working one day, it might very well do the next. Or the next. Or the next. I try to contemplate what I do or ponder mistakes. But instead of letting tricks get to me I let them lay for a moment, and the next time I try, I might find a new approach. Currently under construction: switch frontside heels…
I watched a P-Rod clip the other day where he describes how he kept practising the same trick for a week to take it to a bigger stage, going back to the park to train when something wasn’t working out – that’s definitely not my cup of tea. Although, out on the streets I’m ready to battle a trick until I get it if that’s what it takes.
Who’s got the better nollie frontside flips, Denny (Pham) or you?
I think Denny’s are more on lock than mine. More precise. He’s a machine. He’s another guy I really look up to for his drive in skating, and in finding ways to keep going in life and moving forward.
What are some of your fondest travel des-tinations through skating? What was a low-point?
I had the chance to go on this pretty amazing RedBull trip to Myanmar once. It was a talented, but really random crew, barely any spots, but an amazing country to explore via bus for three weeks. It was Kevin Métallier, Chris Haslam, Matt Debauche, and I didn’t know anyone. It was outside of my comfort zone, but definitely worth it. New people, new place, a ton of memories…
A funny low point that comes to mind is when Domi (Maul) lost the keys to our van in Porto running from the waves. It sucked but we had a good laugh that night when we found out we had the moment when the keys fell from his pocket on film… We went into proper video-analysis of the situation.
You seem like you know your skate-life-hustle very well. Can you share any secrets to surviving on a budget?
I don’t know, not much I can say other than: choose your skate-trip destinations wisely. Of course you’ll have more money to spend on nice food in a place like Portugal compared to LA or New York, where you probably won’t be eating much other than pizza slices. But that’s about it.
Ok, so again, no secrets to reveal? What about hair products? You’ve got great hair. What do you do with it?
(Laughs) I don’t even use shampoo, man. All natural! The only product I can recommend is Hawaiian self-tanning cream. I found that at my girlfriend’s and never let go of it.
From the outside you come off as a very positive character, the type of guy that sees the good in every bad, and always lands on his feet. Would you agree or is that impression misleading?
No, I think this is true. Dwelling on negative stuff doesn’t get you anywhere. Of course I’m aware that the skateboarding life can be difficult, and you’re best advised to have some sort of idea to fall back on up your sleeve. That is something in the back of my head, something my mom brings up every now and then. You know, find another foothold somewhere… Yet, I’m staying positive about it. I think for me it’s a general and very conscious act of looking at the world. Sure, there will be tough times, but every end can be the beginning of something else that’s potentially rad.
What fuels your life when you’re not skating?
Music. Music is another big thing for me. I love listening to music. I bring my speaker wherever I go and love checking out new sounds. For now, it’s a passion; a hobby I do to entertain my friends, not so much being booked for a gig to entertain strangers. Keeping it fun no matter the setting is easier for me in skating than in music. I’m by no means good yet, but I’ll keep going, getting better, digging deeper. I bought an MPC during lock-down. Nerding out with that thing is like starting skating all over again; like learning kickflips. Same goes for DJing.
People all over already love your playlists. What are the key ingredients of a good set?
Funky good times, Hip-Hop old and new… I can connect with all sorts of stuff. Most important is to feel out the crowd. Play for them not for yourself. The Quantic Soul Orchestra have some tunes that make me happy. That’s the most listened to tunes on my playlist.
What are your survival tips for Berlin party nights?
Connections! Know where you can get in, where you know people at the bar rather than spending a ton of money on taxis, getting denied at doors or paying for expensive drinks. Play it safe. Go to exhibitions – always free drinks!
What’s your favourite Berlin club right now? Where do the hot nights go down?
I don’t really go to clubs much anymore. I prefer dance bars. I like Arkaoda, that’s a bit of both, bar and club. Eden, but I haven’t really been there much. And anyway, the hottest nights are had out on the streets.
Ok, l like that. Last question: Rather play a sold out show with the crowd going wild to your set, or the glory ride-away from your signature trick down El Toro?
(Laughs) That glory ride-away any day!! Hands way up in the air! All smiles.