We’re all skaters, no one area is better than another, East Coast/West Coast competition leaves out the Midwest, the rest of the world. Lists can be made of where the best/most legendary skaters have come from, argued with where they ended up claiming residence. Every scene and area has its, “this is awesome!” and “why would you put up with this?!” factors. Every place has the same thing in their own version, just like every person, life isn’t all that different no matter who or what you are, but when you know where you belong, you know.
You find(or try to find) where you’re most comfortable, where things aren’t necessarily easier, just where happiness and growth line up for you, when you find that, with no falsehoods, nothing seems too difficult to overcome.
I grew up in the Mid-Atlantic on the East Coast(with the exception of years lived in Western Europe, just an older East Coast, the skate life is no different, plaza and city heavy, and rough/aesthetically gorgeous spots), to me and so many other skaters, it’s where I’ve been able to push myself in the ways I need, I believe in it.
Nothing stops us except ourselves, spots are only unskateable if you can’t find a way or power through. Skating on the east coast gives you that test at every spot, you must adjust and ignore ego when you see a ledge you want, a lot of times just popping a flatground trick, a set of crusty stairs, a rail you can’t hit until after a pillar. You just are on the east coast, finding yourself as you move through this life of a tasting menu that is the extremes doled out.
I need the struggle the spots and conditions bring. That’s where this argument of heart comes from, the argument of the perfection that is Southern California, compared with the raw grit of the East Coast. I want that fight, don’t get me wrong when a perfect spot comes along, it gets skated out. But that rawness, that oldness of the east coast, you can’t just hit a spot, you have to learn the spot, memorize the block, carve and swerve through the wild and beat sidewalk to hit that ledge from a weird angle. Aside from the plazas, stairs and rails, you don’t find spots, you build them in your head staring down a street, a wavy and cracked sidewalk, portions brick, rolling and pumping through the bends, a two-step stoop feet away from a sharp angled cellar door under a window, twenty yards down on the other side of the street a three-step stoop sits against a house just before a sidewalk block is broken and ramped from a thick tree root at the curb. You have to look for it in a different way than driving around searching for horizontal lines like a hunter. You can hunt for the perfect spot to do a specific trick, or you can skate everything and see what comes.
Just as skateboarding is a beautiful way to learn the reality of this existence, the East Coast pushes those limits, like traveling the world on spare change, the Mid-Atlantic skate-life shows you everything. Finding and fighting for enough cash on hand to stay hydrated and fed well enough to skate through the day, fighting through rough spots and carving around or powering through cracks just to make it to the next spot. You see this world stripped down, you have the power to understand it all for what it is.
Skating brings out such extremes from outsiders, like dogs, people either freak out, are terrified, don’t care, or love skateboards. It attracts the outsiders, the misfits, the crooked and broken, that’s who it belongs it, who it will always belong to. Being a skater on the East Coast, especially in the ’90’s and early 2000’s, you met every type of person, no one skated but those deemed odd and off. Those who hated you, pretty much only other skaters accepted you.
Once the mainstream infested skating, more and more people showed up at spots, people you could once avoid, spots becoming more and more blown out. The other side, more skate parks started showing up, even a shitty park(as far too may are) at least had a skateable ledge and flat bar. The evolution of skate stoppers and city planners finding(and trying to find) ways to keep areas unskateable. That never works, they’d have to cover the world in pebbles and dirt to stop us, take us back to cobblestone streets, that’s not happening. On the East Coast(and everywhere else these days) the popularity and attempts to control only make us that much more creative and innovative with spots and street skating, only makes us fight harder.
The East Coast teaches you these barriers can’t stop you when you first step on a board. More than that, skateboarding teaches you this, that there are no boundaries, nothing but ourselves stopping us from creating and building. Society only makes lines, tries to force us onto caged and controlled areas. We are the wild. We are the jungle. No amount of pebbles or cracked ground matter, we build our own space, we claim our piece of this planet and know this world better than the rest because we live in the streets, we exist in the luxury, we are everywhere and see everything. Nothing but a world of grit and pebble will stop us.