Go Skateboarding Day is a national holiday, but unless you ride a skateboard on at least some of the other 364 days of the year, chances are you didn’t know that. Maybe, despite all the fliers posted around downtown, you didn’t know we celebrated it here in Harrisonburg. Well we did celebrate it at The Artful Dodger, and it was awesome.
The day began with the first day of Skate Camp at Westover Skate Park. From 9am til noon the owners of Wonder Skate Shop graciously volunteered their time to teach kids from 6-14 years old how to skate. Then, from 1pm until 5pm, Wonder Skate hosted a cookout in front of their store. They fed a ton of hungry skaters, parents and people just interested in the event. During that time people hung out in the store and perused racks of the incredible clothing Wonder stocks their store with. You don’t need to be a skater to be amazed by the stylish clothing they offer. Oftentimes style trends begin on a small scale then are co-opted by larger corporations based solely on their popularity and marketability. In this dichotomy, the clothing and overall style you’ll find in Wonder represents the small-scale style generators. Brands like Obey, RUCA, and Toy Machine offer some of the most unique and fresh style available. These companies create unique clothing, art work even, and they’re all available at Wonder. Then there is the skateboard wall.
If you grew up skateboarding, then I don’t need to explain the emotive feeling of standing in front of a wall of skateboards designed to the tee with phenomenal and engaging art work that is new, fresh and unique. It’s a great display of Skateboard Culture. That’s right “culture.” People tend to underestimate the influence of skateboarding on trends in photography, film, art and style, but I’m telling you it is profound. I’m also telling you that it is a legitimate culture and was highly visible here in Harrisonburg on Go Skateboarding Day thanks to The Artful Dodger and Wonder Skate.
Have you seen the Obama “HOPE” poster? Like the Go Skateboarding Day flier you might have seen around town (pictured here) the “HOPE” poster was designed by Shepard Fairey. Fairey owns and operates the Obey clothing company and is hugely responsible for many of the fashion and art trends you can see around you on a daily basis. Trends that have since been co-opted by larger corporations, but the quality is lost in translation; OBEY is authentic and real. Fairey has been a skateboarder and constituent to the culture for most of his life.
Have you seen “Where the Wild Things Are”? Spike Jonze, who got his start making skateboard videos with his friends, directed it and many other excellent films of a comparable quality. Fairey and Jonze are just a few easy examples of individuals owing large portions of their development as artists to Skateboard Culture. What they illustrate is the influence of skateboard culture on US culture at large. This is why we celebrate Go Skateboarding Day.
Once everyone was done hanging around Wonder, looking at all the great product they have and eating their burgers; everyone skated back to Westover. Everyone skated right down 33 West. It was a sight to see and it WAS skateboarding, and I mean that in more than just the obvious sense, I mean it in the metaphysical sense. Skateboarding is so much more than just a physical act, it is a way of thinking, doing and living; therefore when I say everyone skateboarding down 33 West in mob fashion IS skateboarding, I mean it illustrates perfectly who skaters are and how they interact with the world. This is what Go Skateboarding Day in Harrisonburg and cities all across the nation was all about.
After Westover Skate Park closed, everyone headed down to The Artful Dodger to see Buck Gooter and The Shoot Straight Crew perform. Buck Gooter brought their unique brand of Punk and they brought it in full force. Shoot Straight came all the way from Virginia Beach with all their impeccable rapping skills in tow, which the crowd of about 75 people were witness to. All in the name of Skateboarding.
In between the two musical sets was the premier of Wonder’s skate video created by local film maker Patrick Trelawny. Everyone at The Dodger was crowded around the screen cheering, laughing and yelling as they enjoyed the skateboarding chops of the local skateboarders Wonder sponsors. It was a sight to see skaters and non-skaters alike fully engaged with skateboarding and Go Skateboarding Day.
The Artful Dodger and Wonder Skate did an incredible job of organizing and executing this great event and if you missed it this year, you might want to check it out next year.
The Dodger also hosts an annual art show dedicated to skateboarding called Skatan Worshipers, which takes place the first Friday of October; it is an art opening not to be missed.
This post was submitted by Paul Somers.