5 Reasons why a Longboard Dancing / Freestyle Camp is a brilliant idea

One week ago I got back to Leipzig after what was easily one of the best trips I’ve experienced in my life thus far — A camp specifically geared towards longboarding. To me that says quite a bit, as I’ve been around this world of ours, seen a lot of things, done a lot of things (some things questionable lol), I’ve met a ton of people, and I’ve learned so much about different activities, cultures, and customs.

A “shove it” (or shuvit), one of the many things you can learn in a Longboard Dancing / Freestyle Camp

I started longboard dancing in the Summer of 2018, and it’s a sport and culture I’ve been rapidly falling in love with ever since. So this year I decided to up my skills, and I signed up to partake in the June 2019 Edition of Longboarding Days & Nights which is nestled away in the charming town of Santa Cruz, about an hour away from Lisbon in Portugal. Below is a recap video from my edition of the camp, produced by Achel Machin & Elliot Merlino (Two amazing longboard riders and film producers), so you can get a quick idea of what is capable on a longboard, and also see one of the most beautiful skate spots I have ever been to:

This videos the Instructors from the June 2019 round of Longboarding Days & Nights Achel Machin, Elliot Merlino, and Cande Toledo

This article is a recollection of my best thoughts, memories, and takeaways from such an experience. So alas, without further ado:

Longboard Dancing (I’m actually not sure how long Longboard Freestyle has been around?) is a baby compared to its more well-known traditional urban skating cousin (think skate parks, half pipes, etc). Because of its new-ness, its practitioners are super passionate and supportive. Everyone in this scene lights up when they find someone who has decided to start with the sport, and a good majority of the people are willing to help each other out.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced longboard dancer, then you’ll be continuing to support the movement, and you’ll meet a bunch of like-minded people who will become friends for life.

I showed up to this camp only wanting to learn dancing (step sequences on the board) and literally said I wanted to learn ZERO FREESTYLE (basically anything where the wheels of the board leave the ground, think flips and stuff). I didn’t want to learn any of the freestyle stuff because I was convinced it would be the cause of my untimely death, but just by being surrounded in the energy of the camp and everyone participating, I got intrigued and started to break past the limitations I had set for myself. Now I have one solid freestyle move in my arsenal, and that’s pretty badass.

Everyone should have a badass van filled with longboards

Additionally you might learn some cool stuff that you never even knew about yourself. For example, I learned that apparently I put peanut butter on everything I eat, and that I have somewhat of an ability to freestyle rap (poorly).

I started longboard dancing about a year ago, doing the same thing every new first-self-taught longboard dancer does:

  1. Watch a shit ton of YouTube Videos on the topic.
  2. Try to “copy” the stuff in the videos.
  3. If lucky, the move you’re copying will look somewhat OK in like a month (or more).

I’m not gonna say this doesn’t work, because it does…but it’s time intensive. Going into the camp, I considered myself a Beginner + (my own dumbass ranking system) but I could ride the board comfortably, and I could do an ok Cross Step and a Peter Pan, two of the foundational moves of longboard dancing. So yeah…remember when I said I’ve been doing this for a year? Yeah those two things are all I’ve managed to learn in said year haha.

But the seeing the progress of everyone, myself included, in a seven-day camp was mind blowing. There were people in my camp that had never ever set foot on a longboard or skateboard before, so we split our group into two smaller groups: complete beginners and kind of not so beginner-ish anymore, and on Day 2, some of the complete beginners were already getting into the foundational steps of the Peter Pan. That’s fucking amazing if you ask me, and it made a lot of us in the group entirely jealous that some of new longboarders got these moves down so rapidly!

But the seeing the progress of everyone, myself included, in a seven-day camp was mind blowing

And those of us in the kind of not so beginner-ish anymore group picked up some dance and freestyle sequences that we never even tried in our lives before. I can easily say I have at least quadrupled the amount of things I can do on a longboard now, and that is seriously cool.

This shit is important, because what so many of us do when starting out with longboarding:

  1. See a cool Instagram or YouTube video of someone doing something cool on a longboard.
  2. Say to yourself “Fuck yeah! That looks cool AF, I am going to learn how to do that myself!”
  3. Log onto Amazon, and buy a cheap shitty Longboard with good reviews, so that you can “try it out first” to “see if you like it.”
  4. Discover that the shitty Amazon board can’t really do anything except be ridden around in circles.
  5. Get frustrated with shitty board, and begin spending hours researching longboard stuff online.
  6. Decide it’s time to get a real board, so you go into a real skate shop and spend a shit ton of money on a good board setup.

Doing this sucks, and wastes a lot of time that you could be using to actually skate. If you know what the actual science is behind the board, you can skip steps 1–5 and just go straight to getting a high quality board that is setup for what you wanna do, your weight, your style, etc.

So if you do join a longboard camp, check to see if the camp has a wide array of different boards you can use during the camp, and make sure part of the curriculum is actually teaching the students about the board itself, how to take it apart, what each part is called and what it does, etc.

I do a lot random ass shit, but the longboard dancing community is truly a bit unique in that, I feel that everyone in it somehow on the same wave length. At least from my own personal experience, I can say I’ve never met another longboard dancer that I did not get on with well. We’re all just a bit quirky somehow, but all in the same good and charming way. Put these types of people in a group, doing something they love together for an extended period of time, and you’re gonna have a good time.

To paraphrase (steal) a quote from my good friend “The Johny” that I met at the camp:

The members of the group did not choose to participate in the camp, the universe selected them to be together, at this place, and at this time.

It may sound cliche, but in my example I believe this is 100% true. We really were a group hand-picked by the longboard gods in the cosmos. It’s amazing that a group from so many different backgrounds, cultures, professions, and ideals was brought together by a common passion.

My first ever longboard competition ;-)

Above is a video of my first “competition” during some fun times at a community event at the end of the camp. Naturally being cheered on by my lovely camp mates. #FailedTheShoveIt #FuckYeahHeadBand

But in seriousness, if you’re even thinking about getting into longboarding, sign up for a camp. You’ll learn faster, safer, and you’ll learn things that you can easily take home with you to practice on your own. Just make sure to ask your chosen camp the right questions so you can get everything you want out of it. I can fully recommend Longboarding Days and Nights with every fiber of my heart and soul. It’s organized by founder Valeriya Gogunskaya, a talented longboarder and an all around amazing person who has done so much for the longboard dancing scene in Portugal. The camp area is beautiful, great to skate in, and you’ll even have some surfing thrown in there! And no, I’m not endorsed or sponsored by Longboarding Days & Nights in any way, shape, or form. I’m just a longboard dancing junkie who spends way too much time on Instagram (which is how I discovered the camp) who had an awesome experience with them, and when that happens for me I pour it into words. I’m happy to now call her and everyone at that camp a friend.

The experience changed my life. It’s given my interest in the sport a steroid shot with effects that I don’t think will ever wear off, and I’m totally jazzed about that. So do your life a favor, and sign up for one when you can. If you want more information on longboard dancing in general, I can also recommend hitting up Longboard Dancing World, it’s a great resource for meeting people and finding out where to skate in various parts of the world.

And now, for something totally random:

The official theme song of our camp.

🇺🇸 in 🇩🇪 | Marketing Samurai | USN Veteran | 100% Plant Based 🥬 | Salsa X Funk X Longboard Dancer | Find me on IG/TWT - @shawn2nd

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