Little Stories from Eindhoven in Hopes of Restoring Your Faith in Humanity
“So.. You Can Longboard Dance?” is an annual event organized in the Netherlands. People from all over the globe travel to Klokgebouw, a former factory building and a current culture center.
If you haven’t heard yet, longboard dancing blends parts of freestyle skateboarding, surfing and dancing into a form of longboarding that shows style and grace.
When I wrote about skating and what longboard dancing means to me, people came up to me and they specifically mentioned my passion for longboard dancing. This year, I decided to take up an adventure to the small student city of Eindhoven, hoping I would meet people with similar passion.
I could tell you about a variety of different aspects of the event, especially the skill everyone showed, which no-less got me to question my denial of an innate or natural talent. Still, I decided to focus on the part that was the most memorable one for me: acts of friendship and inclusivity that people showed to me.
As I’m only one person out of the three hundred or so participants, I got to experience only a fraction of these heartening situations. Nevertheless, I could feel all of them through the atmosphere of Klokgebouw.
Lan and her foot
While I met Lan and talked to her shortly on the first evening, I feel like we really connected the day after, the day when she showed up to the event with her foot fully bandaged.
She’s obviously bummed out about missing the part of the event that is skating. Yet, as I’m coming back from the supermarket to bring triple-chocolate ice cream for her, I see people have gathered around to bring her mood back up. People are writing their names on her bandaged foot, drawing pictures and just taking some time out from skating just to spend time with her.
The signs of kindness seem to continue as the competitions are starting in Klokgebouw. People help her to sit on my longboard and slowly push her inside the building, where they make way for her to sit and watch the non-sponsored competition with the best view.
One of the competitors, in fact, was a man around his forties who seemed to just have started skating. Even after hours of non-sponsored riders, at least 150 people were still cheering as loud as for anyone as he pulled off simple dancing steps.
Takashi and Junichi
I met two of my dear Japanese friends (Hi, Junichi, I know you are probably reading this using Google Translate) the same night I talked to Lan, while everyone was having drinks at the dorm hostel’s terrace.
- “Hey, do you have Instagram?”
- “Instagram? Yes!”
As Junichi types out his handle, I notice the familiar profile photo of Spongebob. We burst out laughing as we realize that we have already followed each other and that we’ve been liking each other’s clips way before the event.
As time goes on, we help each other film and teach each other new tricks. Despite the language barrier, we ditch Google Translate after the first day of the event.
While we don’t use a lot of words in our communication, slowly, word by word, more things become clear. I still remember Junichi’s words on one of the last days, “Friends… no distance!”. I believe we both were thinking of the same thing: that no matter the distance, we’ve become really good friends.
After cheering together for every competitor for the whole weekend, we talk about plans of skating together in South Korea or Japan, just because we can’t wait an entire year to meet again.
As the event ends on Sunday night, we say goodbye just in case we don’t see each other again in the morning. In hindsight, this wasn’t wise as it only resulted us tearing up almost a second time on Monday.
Similar to Lan, a Polish rider called Jacek managed to break something, his board. He didn’t have a replacement one, and the broken one that he had was turned into what is basically a signing plate. Yet, as I’m talking to him after the event, he sums up my thoughts on the event well:
“I really want to say, that I do not recall a situation like this in my life. For over three days I felt absolutely no bad emotions.”
All in all
And that is my experience as well. Each time people sprinted to give their teammate a group hug after a successful run, I somehow felt like I could feel their celebration as well.
That is also what happened when Aboubakry “Smooth Operator” Seck won the competition.
Second and third place winners were shouting for his name as the drum roll for the first-place reveal was going. The respect and admiration people had for his performance over the weekend made not only Abou cry as he received his trophy, but also other people as they were celebrating his victory.
And that is what makes SYCLD for me: the positivity, the stoke, and the togetherness. Before the event, I had heard from a couple of people how the best part of SYCLD is everyone from around the world showing up to skate together. I was even nervous as I was traveling to the event and reading these comments, worrying about silly things like whether I’ll fit the community, if I’ll manage to find people to talk with, and so on.
Now, I know how my next flight to Eindhoven goes. I will be excited to meet Junichi, Takashi, everyone else, and even the new faces. I will be thrilled to experience all the acts of kindness and see everyone’s results of the year-long practice that this weekend seems to motivate each time.
Cover photo credit: Magali Merzogougui