The Skinny on the Long
Stanford’s biggest accessory isn’t clothing, it’s transportation.
Longboards dominate on campus, and so these hot wheels have brought out a distinct skater style with a California flair.
Read on to learn more about the trend.
Longboards boast greater length and stability than traditional skateboards; they are designed more for transportation than for tricks. Generally, the boards have larger wheels than skateboards, which allow for more grip and speed. Once in motion, a longboarder propels herself by shifting her weight on the board, as opposed to constantly pumping by pushing one foot off the ground. The deck of a longboard can be flexible and narrow out at its ends.
On learning how to longboard, Dani Olivos ’15 says, “I think it’s very much a testament to letting loose and [trusting] that you can balance and you can do it…Once you lose the fear of falling, or the fear of speed, or the fear of sharp curves…the unknown, you get really comfortable”
Tricks & Lingo
∇ Eat Sh*t: to wipe out
∇ Regular vs. Goofy: riding with your left versus right foot forward
∇ Deck: just the board, not including wheels; usually has art or a graphic on its underside
∇ Drop-through: board is stable and low to the ground, for beginner riders
∇ Top-mounted: trucks attached directly to underside of the deck, allows for more grip, for intermediate riders
∇ Trucks: metal pieces that hold the wheels to the board
∇ Bearings: connect the wheel to the trucks, allow the wheel to spin
∇ Carving: shifting your weight between the toe and heel edges of your board so that you ride in an S-shaped pattern
∇ Wheel Bite: turning so sharply that the wheels scrape the bottom of your deck
∇ Nose Manual: balancing on only two of the board’s four wheels by placing one foot on the front of the board and the other in the middle.
∇ Ollie: making your longboard jump by pushing down on the tail of the board
∇ Kickflip: jumping off your longboard, making it spin 360° midair, and then landing back on the board
∇ Pop Shove It: pushing the tail down and switching which side the tail of the board is on
∇ Hands Down Slide: putting your hands down on the ground to slow down or change direction when going downhill
∇ Popular Manufacturers, Brands, & Stores: Sector 9, Loaded, Quest, Zumiez, Black Diamond Sports
Lauren Schlansky ’18, a veteran longboarder of seven years, describes the typical skater-girl look as “band t-shirts, ripped jeans, boots, cool looking sunglasses, dark hair.” She says, “It’s a little effortless looking. It’s less girly, a little grungy”
“I think the skater-girl look is kind of contrived, and I have a problem with it; it seems very Tumblr and superficial, or wannabe hipster. But, I definitely think that there’s a look that a lot of girls especially who pick up longboarding try to emulate. I guess it just so happens that my style of dress fits with that.”
Lauren describes her go-to longboarding style as jeans and a casual shirt. Nothing too fancy because, “If you fall, it’s best to have clothing on that would not be important if you messed up.”
Dani identifies skater style at Stanford as very low-key, loose, and California. “It’s very shorts and t-shirt and laid-back, kind of like the surfer culture.”
Bernardo Espinosa ’15 notices that longboarders wear a lot of high-socks and half-calf shoes, for practical, protective reasons. He adds, “I like to wear a shirt that’s unbuttoned on top of another shirt so that when I’m going really fast or doing some kind of carving, it moves with the wind and it feels cool for me. My style is wearing layers for that purpose, that’s my own little quirk.” For example, he pairs a red, floral, short-sleeved button-up from Urban Outfitters with a concert T-shirt underneath from Group Love and Portugal the Man.
Both Lauren and Dani find that longboarding poses fashion restrictions. Wearing a long, flowing skirt is not feasible, and boarding with heels or a heavy bag can really throw off your balance.
However, Lauren notes, although longboarding “definitely does put a hindrance on my fashion, I also think in itself it’s a fashion statement, if you carry your board around”
For some riders, a hidden treasure is the art or graphics on the underside of their longboard. This can involve stumbling upon a good find—a premade picture or design—or customizing your own board.
Dani explains, “I really was just attracted to the color and artwork” of her Sector 9 board, which pictures a beach as seen through a crashing, green wave. It also features the company logo with two, four-leaf clovers.
Milo, on the other hand, says “I think it’s all about model and efficiency, I would never pick a board based on graphic… at the end of the day, it’s not what it looks like, its how it rides.” His board displays geometric shapes of various colors; the paint is thin enough to see the grain of the bamboo wood of the deck. He has decorated over this graphic with stickers from his fraternity, the skate wear brand Vans, and his senior capstone project. “Stickers personalize your board, which is useful, especially at Stanford where a lot of people ride Dervish Sama,” he says, “I can always find my board.”
The art on Bernardo’s board holds cultural significance. The deck of his Ladera board features a Día de Muertos skeleton wearing a sombrero and playing the guitar. The intricate face of the skeleton shows a cross on its forehead, a gold-capped tooth, and aces of spades in its eyes. He explains, “I’m Mexican, so I had to choose this one right away.” Ideally, he believes a rider picks a longboard for both its model and art.
“I don’t walk anywhere anymore” ~ Milo
Why have longboards become such a trend on Stanford’s campus? Milo Arevalo ’15 says, “I think it’s a reflection of movement towards having fun with how you get from one place to another. I also think there’s been a lot of technological improvements in terms of longboards—boosted longboards, automated longboards that have a motor that’s powering the bearings and the wheels—that’s given a lot of publicity towards longboards and skateboarding in general in The Valley.”
He adds, “It’s been a trend to bike everywhere to class for such a long time, part of the appeal of longboarding is that it’s kind of different. Once you’re gliding across pavement, you get a kind of rush that you don’t get while biking. All it takes is a few people to start a movement where their friends start picking it up, and then it kind of snowballs, and more and more people are getting into it. I feel like that’s kind of what has happened with my friend group.”
In fact, many Stanford students appear to be ditching their bikes for longboards.
Dani Olivos ’15 sees longboarding as a way to take in her surroundings. “I was biking long distances and not very much appreciating where I was going or what I was processing.” On a longboard, she finds herself hyperaware of her atmosphere and environment.
Bernardo notes the efficiency of longboards when you’re in a rush: “I can go faster than a bike if am late for class, and you can weave in an out of bikes that are going too slow.”
Too Cool for a Helmet
Contrary to the easy-breezy look of its riders, longboarding proves to be a dangerous sport. Slings, casts, and braces seen around campus can often be attributed to longboarding accidents. All four interviewees have been in longboard accidents, with the aftermath ranging from cuts and bruises to a fractured arm and a mild concussion.
Unfortunately, it seems that helmets have yet to find a comfortable place in the longboarder-look. Milo sees them as “an inconvenience,” while Lauren chooses not to wear one as an “aesthetic choice” and to avoid both helmet hair and sweat. Bernardo explains that with “skateboarding culture in general—[boarders] don’t wear helmets, just for artistic merit. It doesn’t look good.”
But, he says, “I should, I hope my parents don’t hear this interview.”