The music is non-stop at Skate City in East Moline, especially when the Quad City Cuttaz hit the floor.
“We’re called Cuttaz because we cut through the crowd,” said Leonard Kyle, better known as Gobs, who founded the group in 2011.
The Cuttaz combine skating and dancing to create an art form all its own, but mastering new moves isn’t their only goal. They say skating could heal the Quad Cities.
The group has been together for almost a decade, practicing twice a week and traveling around the midwest for shows.
The Cuttaz make skating look easy, but they’ll be the first to tell you it’s not.
“In the beginning I fell constantly trying to learn spins and movements,” said Cuttaz member Devante Mooney. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and a lot of practice just to be able to actually get comfortable on the skates itself.”
For Mooney, skating has been a lesson in patience and it’s one that’s paid off.
“[My favorite part is] the freedom. [It’s] being able to express yourself whether people look at you a certain way or think of you as a certain character or look into you as your race, you put on a pair of skates everybody is the same,” said Mooney.
That’s the main mission of the Cuttaz and a problem Gobs struggled with as a teen.
“I’ve been infamous. Real infamous. Now’s my chance to do something positive.” Gobs said. “I want to get other people skating … To help bring skating to other communities and maybe help curb some of the violence or give youth something else they can do besides getting in trouble to being in the streets.”
For Gobs, skating is therapy on wheels. It helped him cope with the loss of his mom and manage his PTSD from his time in the Marine Corps.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere. I wouldn’t communicate with hardly anyone because that PTSD keeps me in the house. Skating gets me out the house. It helps me bond with people that I wouldn’t bond with,” Gobs said. “I wouldn’t talk to people hardly because that’s what PTSD does to you. Yeah, you’re like in your own shell — in your own world. Keeps me sane.”
That’s a feeling he wants to share with everyone no matter their age or experience level.
“It’s a challenge because I’m a mom of two and I’m 28 so I kind of felt intimidated by that, but anybody can do it but anybody can do it no matter the age, the gender. It doesn’t matter,” said Alyssa Hesser, who only started skating eight months ago. “Just practice, practice, practice.”
“The worst thing you can do is not try,” Mooney said. “If you don’t try then you ain’t never going to know you’re going to be able to do it.”
The skaters said first timers are always scared of falling, but for this group bumps and bruises are just proof they’re making themselves and the community better.
You can skate with the Cuttaz twice a week at Skate City in East Moline. Practices are Wednesday from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. It costs $2.50 to get in, but the Cuttaz do have free passes available.