Last week, the people of Madrid welcomed all of Europe to what was fast becoming a cult event in the longboarding world. I was so stoked to go back to my second home and skate with my skate family. The weather forecast wasn’t great, but like every true optimist – I figured the weatherman was wrong. Ha! I was in for a shock.
As is customary, I arrived the day before to allow some chill time before the madness began. It was a nice warm evening, and I tagged along with Jacky and Chus to the La Noche organisers meeting. Lots of the family were there, including our Spanglish sister – Cristina ”Ballerignar” Padovano. I sat through about 15 minutes before I decided to stop pretending I understood more than 2 words of Spanish. Yes it’s been 12 whole months since my first visit, and no, ”de puta madre” isn’t the only word I know now!
Friday morning was wet, like the night before. It was strange to see so many foreboding clouds in Madrid. The original plan for the day had to be adapted to accommodate for the wet conditions, so we met in the same place we did last year, the iconic ”La Tabacalera”, a disused tobacco factory overtaken by artists and skaters. There were lots of people there, the longfamily from Valencia, the Moose from Sweden and even a few Germans, along with all the other Spanish family. We skated indoors, up and down some small makeshift ramps, the ambience was pretty good. After we headed over to the welcome party. Even more people showed up, most importanly – the bros from Barcelona! It was officially a party.
One of the most surreal experiences of my human existence occurred during this fiesta. A girl walked up to me, stopped, looked at the AllAround logo on my shirt and said 2 words that made me smile – Spoky Woky? She didn’t speak much English, but she didn’t have to. I was sooooo stoked. To have a stranger recognise our little site as the home of our filthy mouthed French friend. I wasn’t really sure what to say so I hugged her then she ran away. I was buzzing for the rest of the night.
The party was awesome. The vikings pretty much made the party happen. We were in a little circle and Robert was dancing in the middle, then a Spanish breakdancer showed up and tore it up, then another, then another, and before we knew it – our little corner was a street dance arena – the WHOLE club was around us cheering and jumping and dancing. Stoked!!!
We had a little treat from the talented Mr Alepuz, aka Perropro. He showed us his brand new video. The tricks in the video are crazy. This is really cutting edge stuff. Half of the tricks have probably never been done before, definitely not with such raw… RAWNESS. Raw skateboarding-ness. There was a lot of blood, Alberto told me how long it took to get some of the shots, and the footage included some freaking huge bails. These guys put their balls on the line to make this video special and they delivered. 1 foot bigspins! WTF?
It became easier to understand just why there were so many boomboxes in Madrid after seeing this. Bruno and Toti are awesome ambassadors for their sponsor, and hopefully they are getting compensated for their hard work!
All the other things that happened at the party, stay at the party. Your loss if you missed out.
After going to bed around 6am, there was no chance I was going to wake up for the early morning cruise at 10 or the bowlride. After a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs, we caught up with the rest of the gang in the city. One of the first things I noticed was a guy from Valencia wearing a shirt with the words ”push master” on the back. Is that official? I was very keen to challenge him, but I never saw him again that weekend. The plan for the day was lunch, skate and some skate history and art in the basement of a library. Had a bacon cheeseburger for lunch. Pretty good. Juicy bacon.
That afternoon, we went to a local cafe to check out the Madrid Skate Film Festival screenings. Two of our friends – Alepuz and Juan Rayos are judges for the festival, and it is being organised by 2 members of the community. This is something we were raving on about last year, and something we definitely need. Film-makers are an important part of the growth and stoke in the community. They are best equipped to capture and retell the stories and to show what we do to the world. It makes sense that Madrid would be the first amongst us to get together and organise a festival. Perropro was voted in the top 7 of Concrete Wave’s reader’s awards’ best film-makers last year. Making him the favourite in Europe. Juan Rayos needs no introduction, his videos of the Madrid community and the longboard girls crew have millions of views. Living in Madrid, you don’t have to be told the role that having good story tellers behind the lens plays. We will do all we can to help share this stoke and to encourage people in other cities around Europe to do the same.
Some of the guys went off to Moyano 2 after this, to get some riding done before the big night skate. Yes, there is now another Moyano. Due to the large number of people visiting that weekend, we couldn’t ride the original Moyano like we did last year. Especially because of some tension between the locals and the authorities. It’s being taken care of, new people to the scene, respect the community, don’t blow spots!
Last year, when Sonso took us to Moyano for the very first time. I met two weird little skaters called Jaime and Fructu, we’ve kept in touch since and these punks are 2 of my favourite folks. That afternoon, we went back to Fructu’s and had some weird tasting Sangria and changed wheels and stuff. As you do. It feels so good to be so welcome in another city. We then went to the next stop – Skateboarding history with the legendary Dr Caribbean. He had lots and lots of old boards, early Spanish brands, international brands, rollerskates made of all sorts of things, pure history!
On the side of the stairs sat a man patiently working on the graphic of his board. Upon looking closer, it appeared that he was making the design himself. He was working with a solder and burning tiny tiny dots into the wood into an intricate design. It was mesmerising. He says he had been working on that piece for about 6 hours! True craftsman ship.
Downstairs there was another man playing with his wood. This one was using a paintbrush. His name is @Hugustudios. Here, I witnessed the creative edge and the future of skate collaborations. As an avid skater and brilliant artist. ?*&Bob? has found a niche for himself. He hand paints board graphics BUT he also offers his work on a handy, uber professional 41” x 10” (or any dimension you require) vinyl piece which can be easily stuck on the underside of your board to replace your boring graphic with something unique.
Smart! With the growth of the community, and of the industry, there will be more ingenious ways to fuse your profession and your passion and make a living from what you love. Isn’t that awesome?
The next stop was another nightclub for the screening of the Spanish version of ”long treks on skate decks”. Featuring the legendary Ra and the Apatalongo family. I won’t profess to understand anything they said, but there is a version coming soon with English subtitles. Right bro? Jaja. Even without understanding the words I was hearing, it was pretty easy to follow what was going on. It was really good to see such a good reception and Ra was really proud of the work.
We had an hour or so to kill before the main event so we went off to have dinner – ANOTHER burger, with obligatory bacon. This resturant was managed by Javi ”Jaffa Cakes” Molina, and several of the staff were skaters. Little downhill maestro ”Seki”, was rocking a chef’s hat in the background. This was surreal to see. The skate family here really is a skate family. Not just riding together, but working together and growing together. These guys really do take care of each other. Especially in these very tough times, the Spanish skaters are pulling together and fighting together. The love, cohesion and stoke of these guys cannot be overstated. More than half of the people in our section of the restaurant were skaters, and that was awesome. This is how you do it. Take care of yours, and yours will take care of you. It really is so emotional. I love you guys.
This is the same philosophy that needs to guide where you spend your money. Support shops and brands that support what you care about. This is that same mantra being lived out to the nth term. These guys are killing it with kindness. Sonso and her broken arm joined us for all the fun that evening and that was really sweet. It was our one year anniversary since meeting last year. Same for Jacky, Chus, Monica, Sanchez and Aho, who were all there.
The main event. Full of bacon and coca cola. I was feeling super ENGORILE for the night’s ride. I had been waiting for this moment for a whole year! I wished some people from London had come with, but maybe next year. We went to the spot we met last year and there was such a massive crowd! I got a bunch of AllAroundSkate stickers from Aleix and said hello to everyone.
As always, when riding with hundred of people – if you stay in the middle, you will crash, if you stay in the back, you will crash, the only way not to crash into people who fall over is to FLY! So I did. I put some bacon on my backpack and made some gnarly wings and flew over everyone, while throwing down stickers and peanuts. We got to the icon spot with the stairs and took the obligatory group shot. But not before Ra did shoutouts to all the people who had come from afar *blah blah Spanish Spanish Valencia*, CHEER. Blah blah Barcelona – Cheer. Etc etc. I knew what was coming so I told Cristina to get ready to SCREAM. Ra said London and we just went delirious, shouting like we just killed a bear with our bare hands. Everyone was laughing and clapping. Super stoked.
The cruise was really fun, and I finally made it to the front! But it was quite boring there, and a bit sketchy in the poor light. The destination was west park. We got there and had a nice little session till 3 or 4am. Went back home super tired.
The plan for the final day was – University games. Named this way because of the car park we were using was on a Uni campus. We played some pretty wacky games. Gladiator style racing around the track, being pulled by 2 runners. That was a lot of carnage. I won my race and was pretty stoked about it. I didn’t get to keep my whip though : (. There was also jousting, and the crowd pleaser – the hippy jump.
Later in the afternoon, we walked to the top of the hill and dabbled in buttboarding. First time for me. Superfun. Tandem buttboard was manic. Absolutel crazy madness. Agro was loving it. It was so much pure, unhibited, unrestricted fun. Then the Ukulele band played some music and we made the most tame moshpit in front of them. Fiesta!
At some point in the afternoon, Alepuz says to me – you want to see something nobody has ever done? I’m like, yeah! Of course! So he proceeds to pick up a little board, kick twice and do a 360 degree EARLY GRAB – on FLAT! THREE SIX ZERO! Crazy. No air, no kicker, just… Madness?
This weekend was a lot more chill than last year where I only had about 6 hours sleep and skated every waking moment. I had a lot of opportunities to chill and talk to all my old friends and make new ones. It was good to be surrounded by so much love. Jacky and Monica are awesome hosts! Couch surfing! Haha.
At the end of the day, Ra said a very emotional goodbye, and announced that this would be the last edition of La Noche En Negro he would organise. Everyone got together to give him a massive hug. His tireless work through this 6 years has changed the landscape of Spanish, European and even world longboarding. So much that has been born in this city and country has been because he put his whole heart into the scene. He has earned a break. Thank you for being such a legend and setting an incredible example.
Whatever happens next year, you will still catch us in Madrid at the end of September.