Padawan Arsenidis takes us down a flowly line through the european dance scene, skating in Madrid and the upcoming Hamburg Longboard Open 2015. Get stoked!
Hi Simon, how are you?
Hey Gbemi! I’m fine! And you?
Great. Stoked to chat. How’s your week going?
Thanks for inviting me! My week is going pretty well. Lots to organize for our dance contest. It’s quite fun!
You’re not vegetarian, are you?
No, I’m not. I am Greek!
Wait. I thought you were SpanGermanish!
Haha, no, I am half Greek and half German. But my longboard history somehow started in Madrid, Spain.
How did it start?
I went to Madrid to study for six months in 2011. I tried longboarding for the first time and I got stoked. So I thought it was a good idea to get my first board, a dancer, and start longboarding in one of the longboard capitals of Europe.
Had you done any skating before that?
Not really. I only surfed at that time. And when I have not had the chance to get to the sea I wanted to improve my skills through longboarding – what turned out to become more than a hobby…
There aren’t many masters of business in skating (that I know). Just you and Pablo Quiles!
I think that this makes the difference in our sport. All the people with their different backgrounds are a perfect mixture. Right now we (AWHOU! and rollsportverein Hamburg) are organizing the Hamburg Longboard Open 2015, a dance and freestyle contest. With this mix of people’s knowledge and in combination with their high motivation, we are about to create something marvelous, where everyone can contribute.
How will you use your Mastery to benefit skateboarding?
I try to contribute my part to the scene with the objective that the dancing scene keeps growing with the values we share from Spain over France to Germany and from Netherlands over Poland to Korea. In the current organisation of the contest, I use my experiences and strengths from work, studies and longboarding to create a gathering where riders from all over Europe can meet and have fun.
What is Bremen like?
Bremen is a beautiful city with a maritime, hanseatic flair, open-minded and sincere people and a dope football team. I had good times there. And one thing everybody should know about Bremen. It is the town where a donkey, a dog, a cat and a cockerel became musicians. In the fairy tale of the Bremen Town Musicians.
Do you remember the first time you tried a board?
Sure, it seems like yesterday… I visited my brother in Zurich in spring, 2011 and I told him that I want to try the longboarding thing. He knew the local longboard store and we rent a board for a day. The first board I chose right away was a dancing board.
Why were you attracted to the dancing board?
I watched some videos before I went to Zurich and got attracted by the videos where the people do odd stuff with lots of flow. So my focus somehow has always been on dancing and I chose the longest board they had in the store.
How do you feel when you dance?
It depends. Happy. Focused. Relaxed. Sometimes angry.
Knowing I’m about to go outside to dance, see my friends and play a game of skate leads to super happy feelings. And then when I am at the spot and start dancing, trying new tricks and especially new lines I become completely focused and I forget the world around me. This is just relaxing. The best thing is when you feel from the first moment, that the flow springs and the tricks are easy to land. When I feel that, then I just do line after line until I’m worn out. and at my age, that doesn’t take so long.
“If AWHOU! was a person, then AWHOU! would be my favourite person to watch skate. The flow, the creativity, the spirit, the passion and the fun… is a huge motivation to me.”
Who’s your favourite person to watch?
I’m a big AWHOU! fan!
If AWHOU! was be a person, then AWHOU! would be my favourite person to watch. The flow, the creativity, the spirit, the passion and the fun of all the members is a huge motivation to me.
It is hard to name just one rider… There are several riders who inspire and motivate me. Among them are Jeff, Wolf, Simon Sti, Luutse and Roderick, to name just a few, who I do not only admire because of their skills but also because of their personality and their dedication to our sport.
“…flow turns tricks into art”
Is there anything in common in the kind of skaters you like to watch?
The dedication to flow. Skaters I like to watch are those that are focusing on style. Sure, the difficulty of tricks and the combination into lines are important too. But it is the flow that turns tricks into artwork. Without flow the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
Have you skated together?
Lots of times! AHWOU! members are all over the place. Even in Korea. But when I get to Berlin, where the founding members live, it’s always like a huge happy family reunion.
“Without flow the whole is less than the sum of its parts.”
Where were you skating when you got your first board?
I started in the Retiro Park and Parque del Oeste in Madrid with my first board. It was August and it was hot. I tried my first cross-steps with knee and elbow pads.
I saw people like Daniel Sam the first time and their styles and I totally freaked out. Looking back, it was a great decision to start Longboarding in Madrid with so many talented dancers.
How did seeing people like Daniel influence you?
Dani is a dear friend and with his incredible flow, he’s one of the best longboard dancers in Europe. Seeing him doing his thing on the board showed me what is possible on the plank. Since then my emphasis has always been more on the flow at board-walking/dancing and less on spectacular freestyle tricks.
What did you enjoy about the Madrid community?
The community is totally open and warm-hearted. Back then it was totally normal to skate with Ra, Dani, Perropro, Toti or NachoCarribbean and all the other talented riders and you could ask them, as a beginner, whatever you wanted.
After several weeks, I felt totally integrated and learned so much from this community. Not only tricks or whatsoever but also what the culture of longboard means.
What were your favourite events from your time in Spain?
Of course the “Noche en Negro” organized by the grande Ra. It was a longboard weekend of a different kind. No contest, no competition. Just longboard culture at it’s best. The days were packed with workshops, games, parties, a huge midnight cruise with circa 1,000 longboarders and a dawn cruise through Madrid with a handful of people after two hours of sleep.
And there was a little competition in the suburbs of Madrid with just a handful of riders. It was my first competition. It was in November or December and it was super cold. But I somehow managed to do two good runs and land my first 540 pirouette at a contest and almost landed a 720 pirouette! I reached the first place ahead of Dani Sam. I knew that it was just a tiny comp, nothing compared to my first international competition in Paris, where I totally freaked out and landed nothing… but it’s still a nice memory.
How did it feel to win that first comp?
It felt good. I mean, it’s a good feeling if you have a good day with clean runs or at least some clean tricks that get valued by the judges and cheered by the crowd. Although I’m still quite nervous as one can be at the contests…
Winning this local comp in Madrid was pretty much a perfect end for my stay in Madrid. Looking back, it went pretty fast from doing my first cross-steps in the Retiro Park in August to winning my first local comp in December.
When will we have an event in Europe to replace Noche en Negro?
2016 could be the time!
What is AWHOU? Advocates Who Harass Owl Universities?
AWHOU! is our crew. It’s a bunch of riders who share the same values, which are from my point of view – dedication to longboarding, creating, sharing, friendship, beer, more beer, production of high-quality longboard movies and spending good times together.
It all started in Berlin where we always skated together, tried new stuff, start making high standard movies and had good times. It was a thing, but nobody could really name it. But we wanted to glue stickers, so we needed a name for our thing. Marshall came up with AWHOU! and we loved it.
Since we “started” AWHOU! the thing became bigger and bigger. Today we can proudly say that our crew spreads to the world – from Europe over Peru to Korea.
How do you pronounce this word?
It’s easy. You pronounce it like [aˈhoʊ] with a lot of passion.
|What’s your role in the gang?|
I order the stickers… No, seriously, we do not have defined roles. It is somehow an interplay depending on the strengths and interests of each and every member.
Do you have any initiation rites?
Sure. A one-foot nosemanual to double piroutte no-comply biggerspin out, cross footed landing of course!
Haha. Easy. So you have to be a maniac to join?
Sure, just as AWHOU! as you and me.
Will you take over the world?
Like Pinky and the Brain? I think what we do, like filming or organizing events, we do out of a motivation for the thing we love. Longboarding. We have received positive feedback and other riders can identify themselves with our attitude, thus I think yes: There will be more people with AWHOUsomeness in the world.
“I’m a student who learns tricks, a teacher who gives workshops, an event manager who plans contests, a protagonist and editor of skate movies, a competitor at international contests, … and last, but not least, I try to be an ambassador for our sport who always spreads the stoke.”
What is longboarding to you?
It’s an addiction, a passion. Skating lines and combining tricks, rolling with the gang and spreading the stoke is the right dosage that makes me happy, creative and free.
Longboarding brings me into many different super interesting roles. I’m a student who learns tricks, a teacher who gives workshops, an event manager who plans a contest, a protagonist and editor of skate movies, a competitor at international contests, a team-rider for Airflow who got the chance to create his own board, and last, but not least, I try to be an ambassador for our sport who always spreads the stoke.
Who is the film maker in the gang?
AWHOU! is gifted with several film makers. There’s Tobi Seifert who makes sweet videos with wonderful images. Then we have Marshall Brettschneider. He is the one who made ‘Team Video 3000’ one of my favourite videos from the last year. And: he is the brain behind Seasons. Seasons is a documentary video about a full year of longboarding with AWHOU! and their friends. Wherever we go you can be sure that Marshall follows you with the camera or hand the camera over to you and says: “Take the camera. I’ll build a kicker, make a fire and I’ll jump over it!”
And last, but not least, there’s my dear friend Simon Sti. I did most of my videos with him. His inspiration, ideas and talent led to some sweet longboard movies that I can be proud of, for example our last year’s video ‘Between the Lines’ together with Melanie Golz.
How important are videos?
Videos are extremely important to spread the stoke of longboard dancing and freestyle. In the last few years, the quality of longboard dance and freestyle videos got up to a high level because of the mix of the increasing level of tricks and style of the riders and the creativity and abilities of the video makers.
Which film-makers would you like to work with in the future?
I am happy with the talented film-makers in our own rows. But it would be cool to work once with Alepuz a.k.a. el grande Perropro.
Was Tang Tang the competition you attended in Paris?
Yes! The TangTang competition in November 2012 was a great experience. We drove there from Berlin in a van with seven people and for 12 hours through the night. It was my first international contest where I met the french riders and the crazy dutchies. The spot in front of the Eifel Tower is one of the radest places one can skate at because of the view over the city, the pavement and the high level of longboarders you find there.
12 hours! Was it worth the long journey?
Definitely. I would do it again without even thinking about it.
How many events had you done before Tang Tang?
Just the local one in Madrid. It was my first international contest and thus an important experience for the following contests.
What was the highlight of your time in Paris?
We arrived in Paris on a Sunday morning at 6 o’clock, took our boards out of the car and went skating right away. The city was still asleep but we enjoyed the sunrise playing a game of skate in front of the Eiffel Tower.
What were you riding back then?
A LongboardLarry Komodo with Paris Trucks and Abec 11 ZigZags.
What else did you get up to that year?
Shortly after the contest, I was asked by Chris Hart to join Airflow Skateboards and got one of the most interesting assignments I ever did: designing a longboard dancer.
Is it easy to get sponsored?
In my opinion, there are three things that are important to getting sponsored: first, obviously, your skills in longboard dancing. But, as of today, there are a lot of very good riders in Europe, which makes it harder to get sponsored. That brings me to the second point: the network. If you are a good rider but you skate alone somewhere in Europe it could be hard to get discovered. But if you attend to contests, expand your network and get seen by the scene it is way easier.
The third point that is important to get sponsored is the motivation to spread the stoke. Not only for the brand you ride for, but for the sport in general.
“In my opinion, there are three things that are important to getting sponsored: first, obviously, your skills… second point: the network. If you are a good rider but you skate alone somewhere in Europe it could be hard to get discovered… third is the motivation to spread the stoke, not only for the brand you ride for, but for the sport.”
What did you want from the board you designed?
I tried to design a shape with all the features that a good dancing board needs: enough space and good reaction for board walking and smooth twin-tip kick-tails for the freestyle tricks. It should be fun to skate on and help you enhance your dancing and freestyle skills.
Airflow is synonymous with a lot of racing pedigree, like Siegrist & Ramon. Why did you agree to join?
I saw it as an opportunity to join a skateboard brand with a long-lasting history and experienced riders. It was cool that I could give my input to help building up the freestyle and dancing activities for Airflow.
How has your relationship with the brand evolved over the years?
It evolved in to a deep relationship. The team is fairly small and the culture is family-like. I visited Chris Hart and his family a few times in Zurich. The sponsorship became more like a friendship.
What did you get up to in 2013-14?
The year was full of longboard action. We made the Team Video 3000 in Berlin. I went to several contests, like Eindhoven, Osnabrück, Bocholt and Amsterdam. Adam Colton and the Loaded team came to Hamburg. And I visited my longboard friends in Spain.
During that period, I was asked by Marcus, the Manager of Mantis Longboardshop, to join the Mantis team. Mantis is the longboardshop in Hamburg and one of the most established shops in Germany. I am extremely happy that I got on board.
One contest I want to point out is the competition in Amsterdam organised by Guleed and LiveLongBoarders. It was a team competition where riders were randomly formed into teams a compete against each other. It was a great experience and we made to place three.
Another highlight was our trip to Eindhoven in February 2014. It was my first time at the ‘So you can think you can longboard dance’ contest with riders from all over Europe and even Korea! It was a great trip with the whole AWHOU! Crew. My dear buddy Jeff Ellis won at that day the dance contest and I got second at the Best Trick Competition.
What was the best trick?
A 720 pirouette.
What was the highlight of that first SYTYCLD?
The same highlight like at every contest: meeting the others from the scene, exchanging new tricks and playing a game of skate. Getting to the podium is cool, but not as rad as showing someone a new trick that blows their mind.
“Getting to the podium is cool, but not as rad as showing someone a new trick that blows their mind.”
What setup are you rocking right now?
I ride the Airflow Stage (testing some new materials) with Bolzen Trucks 180mm and 50° and Orangatang Fat Frees 80a. It’s a smooth ride.
Are you looking for any more sponsors?
No, not actively. But if someone knocks on my door I would open it – haha.
I never really looked for sponsors if I am honest. It always fitted somehow. I prefer long-lasting relationships with sponsors, what works out well so far.
How is your discipline of skating, in Europe and internationally?
The dancing scene has grown significantly since I started in 2011 and evolved to an established longboard discipline. In Europe the number of dancers increased. You can observe that especially by the number of participants and spectators at contests. The level of tricks and creativity is insane. Internationally, the Asian countries, especially Japan and Korea to be mentioned. The Koreans drive crazy about dancing and the level they have reached is super high. Among them is one of the best riders I know: Jongbin Jo. He is doing a lot for the sport and pushes the level of tricks to its limits.
You’ve mentioned Japan and Korea way too often. What’s going on there?
Besides Europe, Japan and Korea are extremely present in the dancing scene. In Korea good riders and local longboard brands are popping out, they travel to Europe and take part at contests to show their skills. Their style is quite different. They dance super speedy and it is quite fun to see that a few years ago they watched our videos to get to know new tricks and now we in Europe are watching their videos to combine their tricks with our styles. That’s what is so exciting about longboarding.
“(korean skate) style is quite different. They dance super speedy and it is quite fun to see that a few years ago they watched our videos to get to know new tricks and now we, in Europe, are watching their videos to combine their tricks with our styles.”
When are you going to visit Jongbin Jo?
I hope soon. I really want to visit Jo and the other guys. They visited us, so it’s our turn now.
Are you having a fun year?
Definetly. We went again to ‘So you can longboard dance’ to Eindhoven and spent great times there. This contest meant it good with me again and I reached the second place at the hippie jump contest. But we still have some plans for the rest of the year.
What will you be up to for the rest of summer?
Enjoying the Hamburg Longboard Open 2015.
It’s definitely my personal highlight. I put a lot of effort into the organization of the contest. And I might have got another grey hair..
In 8 days.. what 8 days! The first dance contest will take part in Hamburg. Extremely good riders from all over Europe already signed up. I am sure that the contest will be a great experience for riders, spectators and the longboard scene.
Why should people attend?
People should attend to see how our sport has evolved and what level it has reached. The contest is right in heart of Hamburg at a beautiful spot and we await lots of talented riders who all not only give their best in their runs, but also who share their skills, make new friends and have fun.
Got any big plans for next year?
If the contest will work out and people are satisfied then I can imagine to plan another contest. It’s a lot of work. But it’s fun and it would be worth it. I also plan to make some trips, always having my dancer with me. Maybe to Brazil or Korea..who knows?
Who should we interview next?
What about Jongbin Jo, Daniel Sam or Guleed Yussuf.
Pick THREE numbers between 1-30!
8, 30, 14
8 – Do you have any recurring dreams?
30 – In a Zombie apocalypse, what would be your weapon of choice?
Garlic. Obviously, what other weapon would a Greek use.
14 – If you could have any super power what would it be?
I think it would be healing powers… hmm or invisibility.
What happened on 8-30-14
Haha – no idea… I just came back from a friends wedding in Toulouse. French weddings are great! Good food, good champagne and good party.
Simon! It’s really nice to talk to you again. All the best for the Longboard Open, I hope it goes on every year and forever. Looking forward to a random reunion, somewhere!
Thank you Gbemi! It was a pleasure. You made me think a lot about our sport.
Within you, the answers were, young padawan.
Any last words?
Just three: spread the stoke!
…and come visit us at the Hamburg Longboard Open 2015 on September 5.
Hamburg Longboard Open 2015: https://www.facebook.com/events/1661460350750859/
AWHOU! Videos https://vimeo.com/awhou/videos
Simon Sti Videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXrAKDzc9zIttbxm6-P9WUA
Mantis Longboardshop http://www.mantis-longboardshop.de/
Airflow Skateboards http://www.airflow-skateboards.com/airflow09/index.php?ln=1
Photos by Jaane Christensen and Simon Sti