I’ve been skating a longboard for a year now. The day I bought my first longboard is forever carved into my skull – I walked into a surf shop in Long Street and layed three Sector 9’s down on the ground. Now, you must understand that I had been ogling boards for several months prior to this moment. I had sleepless nights until my naïve mind had nailed down the perfect combo of flex and stability. I wanted to bomb hills but still be able to carve the shit out of streets.
I bought my bitch and rode out of that store like Bart Simpson out of detention.
The moment you purchase your first longboard you enter an intimately woven subculture. Longboarding is the fastest growing counter-culture movement in Cape Town right now. Skating is illegal here; every time you skate through town you are committing a crime. Committing crime on a daily basis is liberating – I recommend it.
Once you’ve had your first big fall and have seen the bone piercing through the gooey liquid on your kneecap you become part of something a lot deeper. The more times you taste blood and speed and fear the more you grow in understanding. You become deeply connected with each carbon molecule, every atom of steel, every millimeter of rubber. You also form a bond with other human beings – when you lock eyes with another skater you simply know.
The more you taste death the more you’re able to appreciate life. Downhill skateboarding takes you to an uncompromising, unsentimental part of your psyche where you’re faced with your own mortality.
The past and the future are irrelevant. The vibrations from the road pierce your feet and rise up the bones in your legs and tickle your insides as your body becomes a liquid sponge of instantaneous responsiveness. Every time you shift your feet you’re catapulted into spontaneous combustion. Luckily, the sweat collecting on your brow is cooled by the wind and all the elements of the universe morph with adrenaline and dopamine in a chemistry experiment of the highest order.
The ride doesn’t end once you’ve hit the bottom. Every now and then when the gaps between cars become too small you have to pick up your board and walk. I often feel a defiant arrogance rise in me as I dodge police cars and seemingly jaded and robotic Samaritans – this is part of the allure of longboarding: You get to experience the anarchy within yourself, The Rage Against the Machine, the intrinsic fuck you to the bastions of society.
My board has become an extension of me. As I skate through the city my body melts into my habitat and my eyes become lazers as I pierce through cages and crime scenes. Occasionally the anarchistic teen within me disappears and is replaced by a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude to be alive in my body and my city.