- Category: Events
- Written by Serge Berig
The State of NYC Longboarding: Skating with the Concrete Kings
If you avidly skate and live in NYC or close to it, your typical Sunday is probably somewhat of a downtime day, filled with general relaxation and preparation for the day of work ahead – that is, unless you hang with a group called the Concrete Kings.
Who doesn’t love a group photo these days? Photo credit: Jake Strauss
Every Sunday at around 1PM the Concrete Kings meet at Columbus Circle in New York City. Spearheaded by Bustin team rider Solomon Lang (known by many as King Solomon), the group skates all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, passing through areas such as Central and Prospect Park, and everywhere in between. The individuals comprising the Concrete Kings are as diverse as the variety of decks they use to traverse Gotham’s landscape, and are very open to anyone with a skateboard in hand.
The Concrete Kings group was formed by King Solomon in October of 2009 as a way to interact with “invididuals who share the love of longboarding”, and to improve and leave a lasting positive impression of skateboarding around the city. For Solomon, skateboarding was one of the first things he had a passion for (and being so) he wanted others to join in on the experience, which he refers to as a liberating feeling.
As Solomon put it, “I wanted something that all could feel they were a part of, something that didn't place one skater over another or exclude you because of the board you rode. The skate community is so much bigger than one company and with NYC being the Mecca of diversity it just made sense. How could we have so many skaters here and so few groups of people getting together to skate? We wanted it...it just wasn't happening. And nothing compares to the feeling of skating through the city with a group, literally taking over the streets, trusting the group to have each other’s backs.”
The group has been growing in size ever since its inception and I can say with a fair amount of certainty this week’s session brought in a sizable group of approximately 20 skateboarders. And yes, that includes some ladies as well.
Skaters in the group consist of all sizes, and ages
The session I was involved in started off with a practice race around Central Park loop- a good idea taking into account the actual Central Park Race is next week, on June 5th. Personally, having eaten nothing in the morning I was exhausted by the end of the loop and had drank my entire water supply. On the other hand Solomon looked ready to start a marathon race. Regardless, the group kept going, and the stoke kept flowing. After Central Park we skated around the city, dodging traffic and your occasional bus and mad truck driver while simultaneously making conversation with wagon folk utilizing really weird horns (see video below).
All your cars are belong to us
A while after cruising the city the group made its way over to the Williamsburg bridge, which is full of pavement gaps that gladly swallowed my now 60mm otangs, narrow lanes, and pissy bikers ready to utter the f word seemingly without provocation (or maybe they just hate the fact I, a skateboarder, wear a bike helmet just like them). The bridge itself makes for an interesting time, as it consists of a fairly long uphill push followed by a mild speed downhill run culminating with a nice left corner. Coming off the bridge, we skated through Bensonhurst (I think) to the Bustin Shop, which provided some cool water and welcome shade from the sun. Some members decided to then skate back to Central Park, but I found myself skating 8 miles south of the shop to my home in Brooklyn.
All in all, skating with the Concrete Kings has proven to be a fantastic time. Seriously, if you wish to spice up your typical Sunday, take your board, get to Columbus Circle, and prepare to get stoked. Just make sure you can keep up-while the group consists of skaters with all kinds of skill levels, the pace is sometimes quick and can prove challenging. For those attending the Central Park race on June 5th, Skate safe, Skate fast, and try not to come in last!