The MidWest Scene, and why it gets me stoked.

The MidWest.  NoCoast.  MiddleCoast. Do they have skating there?  Yes, that last one is as good as a title as one could get in the conversation I was having with a representative of the East Coast Tribe of skaters and shralpers.  Let’s just answer that one right off the bat.  Yes, we have skating, lots of skating.

I spend a good chunk of my time watching.  I watch people, watch the attitudes, the stoke, the convictions, the ties, and self representations.  All of these things come together to form an identity of sorts.  A generalized self portrait placing one squarely into a class of influence and or loyalty in some cases.  This is a natural part of human evolution.  What “tribe” do I belong to?  Who is going to kill me?  That sort of thing.  I am going to provide examples here and there so bear with the many links that will lead to different websites, but this should get some people thinking, or at least a cold winter afternoon deep into watching some rad footage from all over the place.  Most likely this might bounce around a bit, as my writing style is very tip of the brain.

West Coast.  I would say this group of skaters has the most documented and publicized history and culture.  The styles seem to vary a little from person to person, but is heavily influenced by the strong surfing community.  You have groups and teams such as the Z-Boys, and the Bones Brigade.  You have super radical dudes, that started out surf/skate rats that went on to found companies that move and shake the scene still to this day.  Some of my favorite videos come from the guys at Gravity Skateboards.  They have a really great vibe about them that I really dig.  It feels to me like here we are, here are our boards, here is our style, fuck you if you don’t get it, we are just going to keep doing what we do, have fun, and skate.  We will be around, have been around, and aren’t going anywhere.  There product line is basic, but with a huge variety of shapes and graphics that I think represents the West Coast aesthetic the best and truest.  That isn’t to say other west coast companies aren’t doing the same, just that Gravity is the one I really dig.  I know there are hundreds more, but you get what I mean with some videos from this crew. There YouTube Channel always keeps me distracted for a good chunk of time and gets me pretty stoked with a variety of skating disciplines. Gravity YouTube.  I associate west coast as some radical dudes, that are several generations deep in the surf skate culture at this time.  Year round skate ability, and a seemingly endless opportunity to get out and get lost in whatever type of skating you could want.  It’s like an in your face hang loose vibe.  Like aggression with emphasis on your local, which would determine a style expectation, all wrapped up in this chill exterior.

East Coast.  What a down to earth group of skaters and people. To be fair, this is the tribe that I have had the most first hand experience with. Wide variety of influences effect this group.  Heavy street scene in the north headed up by New York City, and its strong for lack of better terms push/skate everything/anyway you can technical style.  There is some surf influence typified by brands such as Toxic Surf. The ever radical, super supportive, hella stoked, willing to help out random people you have never met, Shralper’s Union.  These guys cover it all and as far as I can tell represent the East Coast ideal in its most pure and complete form.  They cover surf, they cover skate, and another influence for the east the snow.  When it comes to skating and events they represent the best in organization, keeping it as clean as a group of skaters can, having fun, and spreading those “High Fives and Positive Vibes.”  They host a huge amount of charities tied to as much as they can get tied into,  A-skate  is a wonderful example.  Not to mention restoration and preservation of skateparks through New York city.  Noel is a scrappy fellow that just wants to show everyone a good time, have a good time, help people, and give, give.  Keeping up with him as he cruises through New York traffic is an adventure not for the light hearted.  You have rad staples of the scene with shops like Uncle Funky’s, brands like Surf Rodz, Bustin, and so many more all have East Coast roots, and for the most part represent the scene well.  Best way to describe? Lets say your standard in your face New Yorkness top layer, get through that and prove your salt and your dedication and you will come to the do anything to have your back, friendly, punk rock delinquent good times, best friends, and compatriots of stoke, with a good healthy dose of the ever-present respect.  These guys push, they bring the heat on creativity, they can DH, and they just shred.  Skate, Snow, and Surf with a cool history that doesn’t get broadcast out a whole lot, but is there and restated through the oral tradition.  This I think is best as the personalities that built the scene to what it is add there own flair to the amazing tales of everything from skate encounters to “Get Die”.  Don’t know what that is?  Go to New York, skate the Broadway Bomb, stay with a local as much as you can, and you might find out.

The MidWest.  This term or really no term that I have heard uttered really describe exactly what this means.  If it isn’t a state in the east, and it isn’t a state that is a part of the west, well we are the pieces in the middle. I would define it as starting in the Pre-Canada states.  North Dakota to Michigan down in a triangle shape through Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas,  Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Some people I think would include Texas, but I have a feeling those guys have there own definition and judging from what I have seen of the heat they bring rightfully so.  Team NoBull brings the heat and has influence well outside of its Texas home.  A melting pot.  The middle.  We have styles and groups of disciplines as varied as the terrain.  Downhill capital, the state with some of the gnarliest, fastest, most technical runs that scare the shit out of me has to go to GnArkansas.  That isn’t to say the other states don’t have it, just the riders out of that state go fast, hard, and consistent.  I think our influences pull from both coasts equally.  We have transplants from both sides and even some Canadian influence.  This leads to a variety of peoples and ideals.  What I like the most about our scene.  Our group of shredders and companies.  It all feels newer and less defined.  More open to shaping, without loosing itself.  Things are starting to come together though.  The desire to unite, and grow.  The need to reach out and meet similar people that seem to have found long boarding in so many different ways, that subject matter is for a future post.  A part of the countries scene that has yet to be solidly defined just because of the variety. The movers and the shakers, man do we have a bunch of people.

The SLC shop situated at the base of a parking garage in downtown Springfield, Mo has put on so many events that are really great!  Sean Melton and crew have really stepped up the game and bring the stoke.  All of their events bring at least a group of 100 people together to do everything from pushing, free ride, and good southern Missouri down hill.  The SLC Facebook group has over 550 members ranging from locals to all corners of the midwest.  When Sean puts on a contest it is going to be well run, safe as can be, and a lots of fun.  I am stoked and envious at the same time.  St. Louis has a good balance of riders in everything including a good concentration of slalom style goodness.  Nebraska has some real forward thinkers coming out of the Omaha area with core shops like Wake N Skate and The Midwest Longboard Association.  The MLA is hoping to bring us all together to spread awareness of different events and seeks to solidify a stable venue for communication and organization.

Another mover and shaker is a fellow by the name of Joel Hill.  This dude, goes everywhere, skates everything, and skates so hard every time I see him.  Its always a good session when he comes to town. We can lay claim to Neil Wieland out of Moore, Ok who does it all.  He does some DH he does some snow board, he is just a stoked out dude who started the Moore Relief longboard for peace event where we got to hand out and teach longboards to kids that had lost everything in the tornadoes that hit that community. He rides for several companies and a midwest start up with the best style Rock Louie.  We have Johnny Fireballs Raneri riding for Rey Trucks.  We have riders like up and coming push master of the midwest Javid Hill, who placed 7th out of 1200 riders in his first Broadway Bomb.  Joshua Sombke who has been taking his free ride and DH skills as far as they can go, then pushing it even farther.  There is a huge, I mean HUGE number of kids from the Kansas side of KC that are just waiting to be discovered.  Springfield has mad talent, St. Louis has talent.  The MidWest in general is a huge pool of kids and people that could be picked up on the national level to rep any company.  Dubs Longboards  out of Wisconsin makes amazing locally harvested boards. New and fresh is our local focus webzine Full Bore Longboarding Magazine.  These guys nailed it too.  Lots of midwest love in here.  Midwest companies all through this publication.   Holding down the Kansas side is a sports store called Ride 4 Ever. Just so much goodness waiting for the world to discover.

We can’t forget us I guess.  Burning Spider Stoke Company, LLC.  Kansas City’s first and only longboard specialized shop.  We are still getting started, just moved to a bigger more centralized location, and wish to grow KC into the scene that will fill it’s potential.  Kansas City’s potential, where do we start with that.  Kansas City in general is spread out, with not a lot of super easy ways to get from one skate spot to another.  We have some short steep midwest typified downhill places like Kessler Park.  You can piece together some longer 30 to 35 MPH runs if you know where to look.  The free ride spots range from good learning spots, to super steep scariness that gets you pumped like Steepest Hill, 21st street, Castle hill, with a smattering of everything between all around the downtown area.  The push scene is just getting started with a scenic 2.5 mile stretch along the base of Kessler Park’s hill call the Cliff Drive Push Course, the Stadium Push Course that goes around Arrowhead and Koffman, The 1.5 mile loop that forms the Bass Pro shop loop. More to come as time goes along.  Several Places are waiting to be discovered and established. In the suburbs you have the FBP Team keeping it real with weekly Garage King races and sessions at the Lee’s Summit parking garage, and Blue Springs Lake pre-sessions before.  The Cliffs in Independence are bad ass, that city has lots of potential for stoke to be for sure.  Especially with people like Joey Stoll and Mike skating the loops in the early morning late at night time frames.  The Kansas side of the city has Shawnee Mission Park and its trails, not to mention the plethora of other established places the Ride 4 Ever guys like to skate.

When I first started longboaring in the Kansas City area there was random people, groups of two to three people spread out all over the city. There was no one centralized place to organize or even share spots so we started the Burning Spider Group, which in the spirit of community and to acknowledge the other shop in town we changed the name to Kansas City Longboard Community or KCLC for short.  The group has grown to 300+ members and seems to grow by one or two each day.

All in all the MidWest, we are growing, and have influences from scenes that are as wide and varied as the terrain. I am stoked to be a part of it, stoked to see where it goes, stoked to get some of our MidWest riders to some more national coverage, and stoked to have the opportunity to grow and shape the scene and scenes. To keep it growing support our local shops, support our local companies, make your own company.  Be respectful, have fun, skate hard, stay stoked.

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