Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

No longer bored thanks to longboarding

Published: September 23, 2011
Section: Opinions

What in the world is a longboard? Well, if you’re from any kind of urban background, I’m sure you’ve seen packs of 12 year olds clad in neon shirts tearing up your local street corner. This is nothing new: Kids have been messing around with these things since the ’50s. But maybe you’ve noticed lately that there are whole lot more grownups skating around, going on late-night beer runs or bombing (speeding downhill) parking garages. Maybe you just saw some 40-year-old dude cruising around the park feeding the pigeons.

Whatever the case, you’re probably wondering who let dad have a skateboard. Excuse me, longboard; after all there is a difference. Typical skateboards tend to be of a shorter range of length (usually between 28 to 33 inches lengthwise) and due to trends occurring during the last few decades are more designed for technical skating.

In layman’s terms, these boards are made for tricks. This is the skateboarding we all know about, the kind we see most on the streets, and the kind that Tony Hawk and MTV have exploited the ever-loving shit out of. Longboards have (naturally) longer decks, usually between 33 and 59 inches lengthwise. They also generally make use of bigger wheels and trucks. You might have seen one already … walking from class you nearly get clipped by a tall, lanky dude in a Sup’ hoodie riding what looks like a comically large skateboard with huge bright purple wheels.

Longboarding has been catching on in a big way, especially in the last few years. More and more people are picking up boards and commuting to work, class or whatever in style. Why though? Traditional skateboards have always had their appeal, but mostly with a demographic that decides skating blows when they hit adulthood. “About 85 percent of skateboarders leave the sport by the time they reach 18,” says publisher and editor of longboarding magazine Concrete Wave Michael Brooke. Skateboarding just doesn’t vibe with the older crowd but some of us have work in the morning and the car just sputtered out its dying breath and we’re not going anywhere. Enter the longboard.

Because of the greater size, a longboard offers more stability over long distances and downhill, especially while turning. This allows the board to simulate the experience one would have snowboarding or surfing but on the sidewalk, which makes it great for commuting and cruising. Of course, it does get more complicated.

Point is, longboarding is way more about the actual boarding as opposed to technical skating. Which means that dad, mom, the old guy down the street and pretty much anyone else can get on a longboard and have a good time, right?

There’s no guarantee you’ll tear up much of anything (except maybe your body a little) but you can definitely cruise along comfortably after trying it a couple times. Ken Perkins of Arbor Snowboards and Skateboards comments in a USA Today article, “It’s not unusual to see 40 year olds commuting on them. During the recent New York transit strike, I saw some Wall Street types riding their boards to work.” Perhaps because of the relative ease of entry, there is a growing trend among adults (from college kids to aging parents) toward longboarding, whether for fun, transportation or sport. And it’s not too pricey either; a decent to excellent board runs between $150 and $300. As such, more and more people have been catching on, spreading the stoke, talking to anyone who will listen. Brooke estimates that there is now something like 750,000-plus longboarders in the United States alone; that’s not even touching the global longboarding scene. Who knows what’s going to happen in five years, maybe longboarding will fizzle out of the limelight or maybe it won’t, but right now the concrete revolution is totally happening and all you gotta do is a cop a board bra.