Aegir Boardworks: Skating > Handshakes
Copyright © 2014 by Lindsey Okubo
Wings aren't always feathered, white, and fixed to spines. The integral quality of wings are that they allow for flight, and thus freedom, a rush of blood to the head, and the heart beats the lungs skywards. At the "bank spot" in Dumbo, Brooklyn, wings and wheels share the same soul. Soaring off a five foot ledge, deck and soles find their release from gravity's bondage together through the act of skateboarding. For the Aegir Skate Team, wings are detachable, wooden, and easily broken if flapped too hard.
Aegir Boardworks is a surf, skate, and snowboard shop in the heart of Dumbo, Brooklyn whose business model is "based around the community, but [we] do it differently than any other shop, we don't wanna be a 'that place is more of a this', nah it's just Aegir. It's just a core shop, and we're doing our thing", said co-founder Pete Frolick. As the shop builds its brand, they've established a skate team to epitomize it. The team is comprised of four riders, all of whom didn't grow up in the posh and boss of Dumbo's streets that makes up half of Aegir's customer base; but that's just it, it doesn't matter where you're from, it's the passion for wheels, decks, and the kick-push of skating that accounts for status here.
The captain of the skate team is lanky, has an affinity for cheetah print, and if he's not busting a nut skating, he's on his phone, scrolling through his feed on Instagram. His name is Denzel France, but those who know him best, know him as Deezy. His journey with Aegir began with the purchasing of a pair of socks, and from there, word spread that Deezy could skate and when Shaun Tangen, co-owner of Aegir, saw the footage, he had to have Deezy on the team. Deezy grew up in the projects outside of Dumbo where you definitely won't find a West Elm Coffee shop, but every day after his shift at Aegir (where he also works) he skates home on the pavement; the pavement whose compositional make-up are of the same origin no matter where you think to draw the boundary between Dumbo and the projects. "Dealing with the neighborhood is a diff story. I feel like people are starting to know me over there as the 'good black skater kid'. The people where I live now know me as 'the skating soulja boy'. Everyone in the pjs supports me and the people I roll with because we're different from the kids that post up by the stores 24/7. We stand out in a chill way", said France.
At Aegir's storefront if the weather permits and the school bell has tolled for the day, you can sit on the silver-stairs where most of the team likes to hang out and stare out of the glass windows to find the team teaching younger, wealthier, lighter skinned boys how to skate. "Being able to teach kids in Dumbo how to skate is sort of a blessing. Me being the black skater teaching the white kids how to skate is something new. Skateboarding to me is like an art, it takes concentration and creativity and being able to share that with the youngins is awesome", said France. "I notice that sometimes the younger kids aren’t as fast to brag about their families money, or the summer house, when the older guys come through. I think it's a humbling experience. Regardless of your background, when people have a common interest it tends to break down most social barriers", said Tangen.
Keith, another team member, gives his name as Keith Tooblacktobewhite, he's 25, from Flatbush, and will skate a section until he manages to land whatever trick or air his skate-conformed mind's eye fantasizes, often drawing crowds, "live fast, skate fast" is tattooed on his chest. "Shaun and Pete are giving a bunch of kids from the hood a chance to make something with their lives, especially through skateboarding, and I appreciate that a lot", said Keith, "I would probably be one of them hood-ass kids, sticking up people, probably a kid in and out of jail a lot without skating".
"Skateboarding is probably the best thing that I've ever decided to do. My favorite quote is 'creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence', and that's exactly how I see skateboarding, being the greatest rebellion in existence", said France.
Photos by Lindsey Okubo
Written in Spring 2014