From low-hanging scaffolding to packs of milling tourists, the contemporary urban landscape is rife with obstacles. And while most of us suffer them with a grim sigh and an impatient checking of the watch, Jesse Danger prefers to lace up his shoes and bound right over them. An enthusiast of parkour, as well as the founder of the Movement Creative, he knows a thing or two about getting around the city with plenty of time—and style—to spare. We caught up with Jesse while shooting the new Jetsetter Suit campaign, and found out what parkour is all about.
EQ: So Jesse, how did you get into parkour? What first got you interested?
JD: I saw grainy videos of people jumping around in the days before Youtube and was inspired to give it a shot. After that, I ditched my skateboard because I saw how many more things I could do with parkour.
EQ: What, exactly, are the origins of parkour? Where does the name come from?
JD: The word "parkour" comes from "parcours du combattant," traditional military obstacle course training. Since its birth in Lisses, a suburb of France, it has evolved into a discipline of exploratory movement. As practitioners, we create our own obstacle courses, mental and physical challenges using features of the cities we live in.
EQ: What are some of your favorite cities and places to practice in?
JD: I love New York because it feels so alive. The cityscape is always changing. There is always new construction, new scaffolding giving new movement life to old loading docks and stoops. I never know when my favorite spot will disappear, so I'm pushed to try things when I see them. I am inspired by a city that never stops improving.
EQ: Have you ever used parkour movements to get out of a real-life jam?
JD: Parkour has definitely gotten me to the subway doors just in time.
EQ: What's the most challenging parkour movement out there?
JD: The most challenging movement is the one that you've never done but know you can do. There are movements everywhere and sometimes it takes forever to build the courage to do them.
EQ: How can a regular guy get started in parkour?
JD: Just going out and jumping around is encouraged! We have large open get-togethers called "jams," and if those aren't for you, we also host regular training sessions and classes. e-mail email@example.com
EQ: If we do give it a try, what should we wear? What do you like to wear when you do parkour?
JD: When I'm training, I typically wear track pants and a t-shirt with some minimalist shoes, but I try to be able to do parkour in anything so I'm ready to move. The Jetsetter Suit impressed me because the jacket held up to rolls, and it was much easier to move in than skinny jeans.
EQ: What's the most dangerous parkour feat you've completed?
JD: Parkour has given me the opportunity to do some huge roof gaps . . . albeit on wires over air bags for stunt work. Aside from that, I try to only do things that make me stronger, which favors preparation over unnecessary risk.
Photos by Ryan Slack