As I coast comfortably along the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto on a well shaped maple wood board with wheels, and the time slides past 11pm, I find myself pensive about just what has happened to me over the last few weeks. Recently fulfilling my childhood dream of being ‘cool’ like Tony Hawks is, I have taken to longboarding like a fish to water. The sport, the community and the peace derived from riding through the night have changed my life, forever… for the better.
It all started with a guy called Rob and his friend called Chicken who run a little dedicated outlet called Longboard Haven in downtown Toronto. Plonked gracefully in the sleazier side of town, Rob tells me how he has a ‘bench outside the shop for the locals to sit’, what he means to say is that he has a bench outside for the countless homeless people to rest. Good start. Chicken then shows me his advertising board that he puts outside the shop, this doesn’t hold any sales information or discounts, instead it reads with great, daily updated, quotes from leading thinkers of the last millennia. He tells me he loves how people stop to read the sign, and how he hopes to enrich peoples lives through this.
Inspired by this open love of life, I bought and drew on a helmet.
Since then, I have found nothing but joy on my maple masterwork. In finding a freedom that I hadn’t previously felt, I now blast tropical house beats into my ears and glide through a world that has a new shine. Just the the other day, I held an impromptu boarding lesson with an excitable kid by the river in London, his mum was delighted. I rode off to the sound of him asking for a longboard for Christmas, a better gift in my humble eyes that an iPad or whatever Call of Duty we find ourselves on. COD 7? Who knows.
Needless to say, If you ever find yourself in Toronto, I highly recommend popping by this mecca for deckers to see whether there is something there for you too. If not, it’s worth doing so simply to meet Rufus, who guards the shop (pictured below).
(Photos – Eli Woodbine, Toronto 2015)