Story, photos and video by Meghan Feir
MSUM English/mass communications
Edited by Meredith Wathne
So, you’re considering a change of professions and opting for a more laid-back lifestyle. Skateboarding may be calling your name if you long for the scraping sound of a wooden board against metal and concrete or the feel of the wind blowing through your cotton T-shirt. But before you go out and buy your new board, take a quick peek at the skateboarding scene of the F-M area.
Behind the board: Skateboarders discuss lifestyle
Adam Brant, a senior, and Matthew Eckelberg, a freshman, both film students at MSUM, spend their free time riding the rails. After years of being in the society of skateboarders around the F-M area, these guys know the ups and downs of being in a culture often portrayed as rebellious in nature.
Finding the best locations to skateboard
Eckelberg prefers spending time at the Fargo Skate Park at Dike West, honing his tricks in the area designated for risk-taking skateboarders, bikers and roller bladers. This isn’t to say he and others like him don’t enjoy a little rebellion now and then. They just find it more enjoyable to stay at the park, rather than being on the street.
When street skating “you always have to deal with people kicking you out or being jerks when you could just go to the skate park and be perfectly happy,” Eckelberg said. “It’s there for you, so why don’t utilize it instead of trying to go out and find something on your own?”
For skateboarders like Brant, part of the fun of skateboarding is skating where you aren’t technically supposed to; using sidewalks, streets, rails and other areas typically frowned upon by cops.
“I think it’s more fun to, like, skateboard on something that’s not made for skateboarding,” Brant said. “Not in a rebellious sense, more so that you have to be more creative or more talented to grind on something that’s not concrete or a bench. At the skate park it’s, like, where was the challenge in that?”
How to be the real deal and not just a poser
Skateboarding is neither for the feint of heart nor the easily bruised. In order to be viewed as a legitimate skateboarder, dressing the part should be last on your list of priorities.
“The really good skateboarders are people who know what they’re doing,” Brant said.
“They make fun of, or, like, they don’t hang around the skateboarders that think it’s all about, ya know, the status, the clothing, or the style, or the image. Like, we don’t care like at all, really. We just want to skateboard. That’s it.”
“Your tricks talk more than your clothes do,” Eckelberg said. However, if your talent lies elsewhere, Eckelberg assured that, “If you’re not really good, it’s not like that whole jock and geek type deal, it’s just who’s fun to be around and who you want to skate with and who gets you excited to try new tricks, and like, get hurt.”
Skateboarders comment on stereotypes
We’ve all seen it – portrayals of skateboarders getting high without a care in the world, painting graffiti on the sides of buildings and cops chasing them off sidewalks or streets.
“The general stereotype of like, being a, kind of like a badass, skateboarding kid who doesn’t really care about anybody and he just wants to drop out of school and skateboard and cause troubles, it’s not so much like that. Like, once you get into it, it’s more about, I don’t know, just having fun, I guess – being with friends.”
Eckelberg added a negative connotation linked with skateboarding as a whole. “We get associated with like, drugs a lot just because that is prominent in that kind of culture,” Eckelberg said.
Warding off the winter blues
Known for wearing colorful shoes, stocking caps, T-shirts and zip-up hoodies, you rarely see skaters sporting a parka while riding their boards.
For the skateboarders of the F-M area, winter is a nuisance, their cement ramps packed down with snow and the sidewalks covered in ice. In order to maintain their skills, many opt for snowboarding, while others find ways to release their sporty spirit indoors.
Brant opts for visiting the downtown skate shop, This Skate and Snow, located at 625 First Ave. N., Fargo, when the weather is less than balmy. For $2 a session, the shop has a mini-ramp for skateboarders to use and plenty of atmosphere to go along with it. So, whether you feel like joining them indoors or waiting until after they’ve come out of hibernation, there is plenty of culture to be found year-round.