Headphones at Dawn...
Skateboarding and music go hand in hand – this is undeniable, from the song which puts the final touch on your favourite section to the playlist which gets you amped while you drink your coffee before rolling out the door in the morning. However there is a part of this beautiful relationship which may be a step too far, much like that time your partner asked about glass tables when you were shopping for furniture.
It may make me sound like a grumpy old man, but I’m putting it out there – turning up at a skatepark and ramming your headphones halfway into your brain for the entirety of the session sucks. Don’t get me wrong; skateboarding is a creative outlet, an art form which it takes a particular eye to comprehend and as such is the perfect match to music.
Soothe the savage beast? Fuck that, it fuels it. I’m hardly ever without tunes when pushing down streets or bombing hills on solo missions.
BUT, and this is just as valid, skateboarding is also a social occasion. It brings together disparate characters and connects them through an overriding passion for the four-wheeled whizzplank. I’ve met fuck knows how many people and had some of the funniest conversations of my life on the deck of a miniramp with a few beers as the sun goes down.
However blasting your chosen aural hype while you block out the outside world is hardly conducive to conversation. Maybe it’s me – perhaps as I’m thinking ‘antisocial dick’ they’re thinking ‘why is that creepy weirdo staring and mumbling at me?’ If not, though, perhaps it is part of something wider...
Having to ask someone something three times before they drop in without answering and I notice Steve Job’s spuds sticking out of their ears hasn’t lessened in its ability to irritate.
Could it be that the recent upsurge in our pastime’s popularity and the consequent rise in skateboarding numbers is dissipating a sense of ‘scene’ and creating more of a pastime no different from squash or Monopoly, unconnected to community and culture?
OK now I definitely sound like a grumpy old fuck, but luckily my personal experiences still refute this idea. Most skateparks I go too I still meet either crew, fellow travellers I’ve met along the way, or kids eager to talk about and finely analyse the subject they love.
But still, having to ask someone something three times before they drop in without answering and I notice Steve Job’s spuds sticking out of their ears hasn’t lessened in its ability to irritate. It seems to almost leach something vital from the fabric of skatepark life, quite aside from the decrease in spatial awareness bough on by the blocked sense.
Luckily, I think I have an answer to this problem – boomboxes. You know those jams where the random, often slightly pissed local is shanghaied into DJ duties and it hypes the session ten times more than it already was? With the right mixture of people on any given day this can be a proper session starter, especially when multiple homies have input.
Even just one person can up the ante on the shred, more than once I’ve been at the park when someone’s turned up with a sound system blasting reggae, hip hop or punk and it’s improved matters tenfold.
Dust off those CD’s or grab some speakers for the MP3 player and get the tunes blasting (offer may not apply to local emo park lurkers), then get chatting to your fellow skaters about music. They’ve probably watched all the same videos and grown to know all the same bands you have, and can probably help you out with some further listening at that – half of my favourite tunes have been introduced to me by other skaters keen to share the stoke. Get involved and rejoin our ramshackle society, you won’t look back!
Here are a few of the finest collaborations to come out of chance skatepark meetings, who knows where we would be if the iPod had put paid to these musical odysseys at the outset;