2 Weeks of work At KNK 2015 Photo by Erwin Boekee
Terence said: “So many men, so many opinions: to each his own way”. If we did a survey “What is longboard for you?”, I suppose most of the people would have no idea what we ask about. People who have some kind of knowledge about it would say it’s a board used to move about. For some it would be a hobby, way of spending your free time or simply a toy.
It is safe to say I’ve gone through all these stages. I could even add some more.
Stage one – passion
At the end of primary school I started riding a skateboard. My first ollie, skateboarding in the backyard, first magazines (copies of “Ślizg”, popular at that time monthly magazine, have been lost somewhere, but I do have till this day “Info magazine”), first hand-made obstacles, cupboards covered with stickers of favourite brands and trips to nearby towns to enjoy riding in different spots. I still remember those days, the good vibes it brings back, countless hours spent on a skateboard.
Years were passing by and I had less time for skateboarding, but the longest break came after I finished my studies. Studying, parties, no skate spots around – that made me and skateboard part ways. Two years later there was a great come back. One of my friends said: “Man, there’s a cool way to rock the town” and he showed me a video about longboard. Different trucks, bigger wheels – I was already hooked.
I was working in Gdańsk, and one day on a beach I had a chance to ride that board. I wanted to get that particular model so badly I “tormented” guys from longboardshop.pl asking them for 2 weeks about it, which was not available at that time. Later on I was back in Warsaw for studies, quickly got to longboardshop for a board, and a minute later I ended up with my own new Lush Samba longboard with Cult and Sabra wheels. First impression after riding it was…weird. I just couldn’t feel the board with no kicktail. But after some time, it was such a pleasure to ride it – a feeling similar to the one when I snowboard, and which is my second board-love. My first competition I took part in was with that longboard. I remember I couldn’t even slide and I tore off the sole of a shoe that wasn’t even mine. But anyway I felt again the thrill and fun from youthful years.
Longboard doping 2011 fot. Zuzanna Nowacka
Stage two – fun
I met Michał during one of the snowboard contests. We chatted a bit and it turned out he managed to produce some Vertical Lamination technology boards (by the way, that’s where our company’s name comes from – alternative for plywood boards). I was also thinking about making my own board. I exchanged some emails with Michał and two weeks later there I was – in his studio flat, where he lived with Sylwia, his girlfriend at that time. I was genuinely surprised how you can stuff longboard press machine and a compressor in one small room. So our first board was made in such conditions. Pride, thrill, admiration – these are just a few words that best describe what I felt then.
Later on I was over the hump. Phew, what am I saying. The going actually was getting rough. Relocating to Kętrzyn, building the first press machine and a plotter, first prototypes that were reasonably good, over 100 boards thrown in the bin – just to learn the whole process. At that time we made about 15 boards that were suited for riding. A week in Kętrzyn was one of the worst weeks in my life. We felt constantly under pressure, things were getting broken and seemed like nothing was going our way. At that time there was another guy who joined us, Peter. He was in charge or preparing board models and graphics.
After 2-3 months we realized that it was not to be done if we lived in different places. Then we decided to go back to Warsaw. Finding the most suitable workplace wasn’t as easy as we thought. At last! There we found it! 75 square metres, close to Galeria Mokotow – corporate centre, and us – three hobos. I would go to the workshop by tram, totally laid back, looking at others in suits, so tensed up. That place, our workplace, was our asylum, the place where we could fulfill our passions and had so much fun. When I was telling people that I make boards, nobody treated it seriously.” It’s just fun, start doing something useful and profitable, get a proper job – pull yourself together.”
Profile of our first board which we made. Photo by Michal Milewicz
Stage three – work
Boards have been with me for about 16 years now. I ride a longboard, skateboard and snowboard. I surfed a few times and tried kite-surfing, wake-surfing, wakeskating and skimboarding. I’ve been making boards for 6 years now and from 2 years it has become my fulltime job.
If you ask me now what longboard for me means, I’m going to find it hard giving one simple answer. I’d start with self-fulfilment, something that gives me satisfaction and something I can play with. Longboard for me means places I like and I enjoy coming back to. People whom I meet and I wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t been for boards. Trips that give exhilarating experiences. Longboard is a stream of extreme happiness, but also denials, sadness and bitterness. It’s a struggle. It’s a place where every day something new and unexpected awaits.
Longboard is what you let it to be. And what is it for you?
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