Feature

The New Orleans Longboarders

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of time spent in the city New Orleans. And while I may have originated in Los Angeles, there has always been something oddly sentimental deep rooted within me that keeps New Orleans feeling like something of a second home. It goes deeper then just simply being a place my extended family calls home. Deeper then the incredible food, the music, or the rich sense of heritage and culture. New Orleans has a soul, a feeling to it that sets itself apart from most every other place I’ve adventured too.

You see this soul in anyone who’s spent any extended amount of time in the city. It’s an almost indescribable sense of resilience. A willingness to make the most of the cards your dealt. New Orleans may not have hills, it may be below sea level, it may be humid, and it may rain on a moments notice, but in spite of all of this you’ll most always find everyone there with a smile on their face, no matter what the situation.

The newly rebuilt, Super Dome.

The newly rebuilt, Super Dome.

Shotgun house.

Shotgun house.

Jefferson.

Jefferson.

Mardi Gras floats lie dormant until that time of year when it's time to throw beads and get wild.

Mardi Gras floats lie dormant until it’s time to throw beads and get wild.

New Orleans, and the mighty Mississippi.

New Orleans, and the mighty Mississippi.

A van down by the river.

A van down by the river.

Overflow pipes threading the levy, used in the event of flooding.

Overflow pipes threading the levy, used in the event of flooding.

On the other side of the Levy, lies the Mississippi river, and the occasional swamp shack.

On the other side of the Levy, lies the Mississippi river, and the occasional swamp shack.

And so, we turn our focus to the Longboarders of New Orleans. A collection of college students and locals who have adopted the facets of the terrain and created a community around a sport that has long been defined by its break-neck characteristics of speed and agility, in a land without hills. But what the longboarders of New Orleans lack in inclines they make up for with healthy amounts of creativity, a trait all the more commendable. Now let’s be real here for a moment, New Orleans isn’t exactly the first location that comes to mind when you think skateboarding, much less, longboarding. But I feel it’s for this reason specifically that makes it all the more appetizing a location for one to want to skate. Allow me to elaborate! Hills and inclines aside, New Orleans is simply brimming with untapped street features. Culverts, ditches, banks, curbs, stairs, rails, scary looking ramps under highway overpasses, all the various street nik-naks and do-dads the imaginative skateboarder craves. So it should come as no surprise as to how, or rather, why the longboarders of New Orleans have developed into such versatile street crushers.

Bringing truth to the popular phrase, "Skate Everything".

Bringing truth to the popular phrase, “Skate Everything”.

Malcolm Reed, proving that you can live flat but still be a boss at going sideways.

Malcolm Reed, proving that you can live flat but still be a boss at going sideways.

The Levy was built to keep New Orleans from flooding. Malcolm finds it a different purpose.

The Levy was built to keep New Orleans from flooding. Malcolm finds it a different purpose.

Malcolm indicates the location of the "Haus Treehouse".

Malcolm indicates the location of the “Haus Treehouse”.

The Levy which boarders much of the river through Nola, is prime turf for pushers.

The Levy, which borders much of the river through Nola, is prime turf for pushers.

On the banks of the Mississippi, and venturing into the trees.

On the banks of the Mississippi, venturing with locals into the trees.

Treehouse trekking.

Treehouse trekking.

After a short trek, The Haus Treehouse is reached. Into the trees.

After a short trek, The Haus Treehouse is reached. Into the trees.

I should mention that while in the treehouse, we later saw an alligator below us cruising by... Rad.

While in the treehouse, we spotted an alligator in the reeds close by. Truth.

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High in the trees.

High in the trees.

You gotta be on the list to get into this party.

You gotta be on the list to get into this party.

Watching the barges through the trees.

Watching the barges through the trees.

Dan Harding with a kick flip under a gradated sky.

Dan Harding with a kick flip under a gradated sky.

The sun sets on the river and the steaming refineries on it's opposite bank.

The sun sets on the river and the steaming refineries on it’s opposite bank.

In the greater Los Angeles area, Longboarders see with a different set of eyes. You see hills, you see corners, apex’s, slides. In New Orleans however, you see features. Locations begin to speak to you differently. Improvisation becomes a heralded trait, a style all it’s own. New Orleans is an old gold kinda city. A community steeped in rich heritage and crawfish. A fleur-de-lis festoon domain of old buildings and industrialism, rusted metal grates and chipping house paint. A waterborne territory with the mighty Mississippi existing as it’s lifeline. And it is amidst this sphere of rugged weathered commerce that these skateboarders have matured; carved out a niche for themselves amongst the oxidized barges and handrails of the humid deep South. Defined their own sense of style beneath the moss laden Oak Trees and rod iron fences of Orleans Parish.

The best place to skate in N'awlins, is where it stays dry.

The best place to skate in N’awlins, is where it stays dry.

A street skater's playground, locals refer to this spot as "Parasite".

A street skater’s playground, locals refer to this spot as “Parasite”.

Flatland chops will get you far in Nola. Philip Gaudet shows off his moves.

Flatland chops will get you far in Nola. Philip Gaudet shows off his moves.

The throne of kings.

The throne of kings.

Michell Selby, cross-stepping through the weeds.

Michell Selby, cross-stepping through the weeds.

Dan McDonald of Nola Longboards marks his territory with a steezy blunt slide.

Dan McDonald of Nola Longboards marks his territory.

Malcolm Reed and Dan McDonald put some stress on the tired looking mini.

Malcolm Reed and Dan McDonald put some stress on the tired looking mini.

The pillars of Parasite.

The pillars of Parasite.

Local youth gettin' fancy.

Local youth gettin’ fancy.

The longboarders of New Orleans may not posses the same need for speed we do here in California. They run on a different wavelength. They may not follow the canon of idiosyncrasies by which we use to define our sport, but you’ll always find them making the most of their situation. What the longboarders of Nola have done in their own Darwinistic like way, is develop into their own breed. Redefining the boundaries of the sport, in a land where creativity is king.

My last session in Nola. Board prep under a cloudy sky at a hill near Lake Pontratrain.

My last session in Nola. Board prep under a cloudy sky near Lake Pontratrain.

The levy bordering the edge of Lake Pontratrain yields a mellow slide hill.

The levy bordering the edge of Lake Pontratrain yields a mellow slide hill.

New Orleans longboarder Minh with a backside check.

New Orleans longboarder Minh with a backside check.

Blain Billings kicks out a heel side floater for the sun.

Blain Billings kicks out a heel side floater.

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Backside blunt-slides in the land of no hills.

Backside blunt-slides in the land of no hills.

SkateSlate sticker application can result in a smoother ride.

SkateSlate sticker application can result in a smoother ride.

A steezy standup slide under a southern sun.

A steezy standup slide under a southern sun.

A local throws down some moves for a setting sun.

Cross-steps for the setting sun.

Some portions of the levy are concreted, which make for some serious banks.

Portions of the levy are concreted, which make for some serious banks.

Dan McDonald with a surreal looking nose grab off the concrete levy bank.

Dan McDonald with a surreal looking nose grab off the concrete levy bank.

A rad sequence of Dan McDonald putting the levy banks to solid use.

A rad sequence of Dan McDonald putting the levy banks to solid use.

Big Dan soaking up some late afternoon Vitamin D.

Big Dan soaking up some late afternoon Vitamin D.

Lake Pontratrain is home to the largest concentration of wetlands in North American.

The sun sets on Lake Pontratrain as my time spent in Nola draws to a close.

Night falls, as the longboarders of New Orleans lay down their final thane lines of the day.

The skaters lay down their final thane lines of the day.

The Longboarders of New Orleans are a solid group of individuals with a passion for skateboarding and a thirst for adventure. A most sincere thank you goes out to all of them taking the time to show me around and show me a good time! It was a pleasure to have skated with all of you.

So if you find yourself in the Big Easy, and you’re looking to get into contact with New Orleans Longboarders, please visit their Facebook (click) page.

For additional shots from my adventure to New Orleans Louisiana, please visit this Flickr (click) link.

Thank you for checking out the article, now plan an adventure to somewhere new, and go skate.

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