Girls Can Definitley Ride! A History of The Longboard Girls Crew
Many things have happened since we first opened a Facebook fan page called “Longboard Girls Crew” (LGC) in August 2010. At that time, the main idea was to meet, hang out and skate together. We realized the energy around was different when the riders were only girls. Our main mission was to get together and place female longboarding on the map. We knew there were more girls; we just needed to find them, or make them want to start. That’s how we came up with the idea of an all-female video, Girls Can Ride, by Juan Rayos, in September 2010.
I think that video made a difference in the worldwide female longboard scene. It was the first video (at least that we knew about) shot with just female riders from all over the country in such a beautiful way. There was an instant reaction. Girls loved it because they realized they could do it too, boys loved it because it was something they were not used to seeing, and people outside the longboard world loved it because it’s such a beautiful and fun video! After that, everything started to get big, but our mission is still the same: placing female longboarding on the map.
Back in August 2010, Jacky Madenfrost opened the Facebook fan page. We used to skate in different spots, but the day after she created the page we ran into each other and she made me an Admin. From that day on, we would approach absolutely every female rider we found (physically and virtually) and almost harass them to become a fan of the page. We also contacted every pro rider we knew asking them to like the page and spread the news. Now that I think about it, we were very obnoxious! Some days later we came up with the idea for that first all-female video. I had no doubt Juan Rayos had to do the video. We skated together in the same spots and knew his longboarding videos. Juan Rayos + longboard girls had to work … and time would tell. So, every girl we knew – and most of them we didn’t – showed up in Madrid from all over Spain at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, the same weekend “La Noche en Blanco” (Spanish festivity, biggest longboarding weekend in the year) was taking place, to meet, skate and get stoked.
Carlota Martin Torrent, Chus Asensio and Monica Madenfrost joined shortly afterwards and we established the LGC staff as it is today. I think back then we didn’t have a clue of what was going on or what we were doing. Things grew up at the same time we did, and we had to take choices, make decisions and learn while this whole movement was getting big. I’m not sure we made all the right decisions; we just did the best we knew. There is so much work behind LGC … people are usually stunned when we tell them. Besides, most of us have other jobs, so combining both plus finding time to skate or surf or just chill is sometimes too much. We honestly put a lot of work and effort into this project – we scratched sleeping and office hours to keep it growing, all five of us – so it hasn’t been easy. But yet again, it’s all worth it.
While longboarding in general gets bigger worldwide, so does the female scene. To speak generally, people’s reaction to the Longboard Girls Crew has been great; they have been very supportive all around the globe. We constantly receive emails from girls and boys telling us how we inspired them to start longboarding, and that’s incredibly rewarding. As Amanda Powell says in Endless Roads, this whole “Girl Stoke” phenomenon is mind-blowing – not only seeing as many girls skating as we do, but also knowing they have a community that supports them.
These are girls that (hopefully!) will welcome the new ones and show them they are not alone. And that was and still is one of LGC’s main purposes. Women are getting together, teaching other women, organizing female clinics, competitions, camps … It’s not even about LGC, but about women demanding their role in this sport. We are witnessing a real change in gender labeling in our sport. It’s so rewarding just to think that maybe we had something to do with that, and that we’re still making a difference. Talented female skaters have been practicing and competing at a professional level since the 1960s, and yet the sport has continued to be plagued by the usual gender stereotypes; people were surprised to see girl skaters, and even girls themselves had been put off by skating. But all that is changing now. Still, we find a lot of sexism in this sport, coming from brands and consumers.
Several skating brands have done ads with almost-naked girls simply posing or walking, while guys would be killing it with their boards. On the other hand, there are countless comments on girls’ videos regarding our right to be longboarding, instead of being in the kitchen, where they suggest we actually belong. Some readers of this article will be surprised that stuff like this is still happening today. Some others will actually laugh at what I just said, and that’s where we have a problem. We’re constantly being judged by these kind of people regarding our outfits, shorts or any other garment that shows some skin, when we constantly see shirtless male videos and no one would even consider making it an issue.
Boys and girls are different, in so many ways. We should celebrate the differences and stop judging or using easy jokes to lower the other gender. That’s the real equality we want to fight for. We also get male comments “blaming” our fan page’s popularity or the number of views of our videos on the fact that we are girls who show some skin while skating in the summer. But let me tell you guys, male riders do that too – basically because it’s summer, and therefore it’s hot. I do know, too, by personal experience, that some guys are OK with girls as long as the girls don’t succeed more than them. Then they insist it’s not fair and that our success is because we’re girls and wear shorts, no matter how hard we work on this or any project. They complain about girls being sponsored when they (the guys) skate way better.
The truth is, it happens in plenty of sports; we’re not discovering anything. There are genetic reasons why men are physically more skilled in some aspects than women … so what? You won’t sponsor the fastest woman on earth just because she runs 5 seconds below men’s rate, and so do the rest of female runners? Again, it’s not everyone, but these are little things that, by the way, hurt a lot and reflect that still there is a long way to achieve real equality. This is not only in longboarding; this is the world’s reflection of our society, just reduced to the longboard world. I don’t know if we will be able to change some guys’ minds, but we definitely have to try. We’re women that skate or longboard; it’s not such a big deal. Of course there are girls who already have taken female longboarding to the next level: Katie Neilson, Christie Aleixo, Carmen Sutra Shafer, Alicia Fillback, Amanda Powell, Marie Bougourd (Spoky), Cindy Zhou, Reine Oliveira, Marisa Nuñez, Gador Salis, Tamara Prader, Brianne Davies, just to name a few … and they kill it. We’ve achieved a lot of things so far, but we still have work to do. Sometimes, with all this fuzz, we forget that the important thing about this sport is to have fun, any way you skate. Don’t get annoyed if you don’t get better or you get s**t about your skill level. We constantly have to deal with those comments. But it’s OK; we have never said we were the best – we are just a bunch of girls who created a female longboard community. We don’t need to constantly be proving our skating skills.
Our most epic project so far is Endless Roads, a documentary shot during the summer of 2011 about female longboarding and its lifestyle. We invited two of the best Spanish riders, Gador Salis and Maitane Rascón; two of the best international riders, Amanda Powell and Marisa Nuñez; plus LGC female skating staff (Carlota, Jacky and I); and we hit the road. We were seven riders in a T2 VW, travelling more than 4,300 km around Spain in 15 days. As I say in the video, we went through a lot: crazy moments of joy, stress, tiredness, unforgettable scenery … Indeed, it ended up being magical. I think you can see that through Juan Rayos’ beautiful videos. He was in charge of the project and was the trip’s dictator (ha!). We worked on this project for six months before we started traveling: arranging details, getting sponsors, planning the route, inviting the girls, getting the music … The amount of work was insane. But again, seeing the result, we think it was worth it. We will have all those memories with us forever, and I think we will be connected for life by those crazy 15 days we had in a van traveling around Spain, no matter where life takes us.
We have tons of stories about Endless Roads. I don’t know if I could choose a favorite. I definitely had the best time in Galicia, because I love it over there, but every spot was special for someone. Almería was beautiful and fun; one day we skated in a lovely town between the houses and the next was that lighthouse hill, where Juan did those sick shots with Marisa, Amanda and Jacky tucking hand in hand while the sun set. Mallorca was crazy downhill, lovely locals and great beaches. No one knows, but we actually left Carlota behind in the ferry station. We traveled with two vans, the T2 and a bigger one with all the boards, suitcases and production team. As usual, we split up among both vans and were about to leave the ferry. But Carlota went to the bathroom, and when she got back, the vans were gone. She waited, assuming we would wait for her somewhere. Thirty minutes later, on the other side of the island, someone in my van asked for Carlota, but we assumed she was in the other van. The other van assumed she was with us! When we went back for her, we found her standing all alone in a corner in the middle of nowhere, looking like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone when he wakes up and realizes everyone is gone… That was definitely a great story (not for Carlota, obviously). Toledo and Avila were very special, too: skating in those beautiful medieval towns with the amazing 1.8-meter-long Longboard Rodriguez boards. And Galicia was all about the green, the surf, crazy slopes and awesome local crews. Good times … We’re actually thinking of doing a DVD with the whole movie and a CD with all that great music.
Some weeks ago we were invited to Mallorca, where the MareMostra Ocean International Film Festival was held, and Endless Roads was part of the official selection. We had the chance of watching the full documentary, uncut, on a movie screen. It was so exciting, most of us ended up crying. It amazes us that all these professionals like what we do and believe in us. We’re also very thankful (and lucky) that an artist like Juan Rayos worked with us. Nothing would have been the same without his talented work. Nothing. In Mallorca we also celebrated a mini jam with the local crew, which is ace. Mallorca is the craziest island to skate in; the roads are every DH rider’s dream. The Spanish female scene keeps growing. This March we celebrated the first national Girls Meet. Female riders from all over the country gathered in Zaragoza to meet, party and freeride La Muela, Zaragoza’s gnarliest road. There were about 50 girls, and we had such an amazing time! Zaragoza’s crew is awesome and helped us with everything regarding safety, legal and traffic. It was beyond perfect. Spain is a small country, and the collaboration and friendship between crews in order to develop the best events is outstanding. We’re also very close to other European crews and Longboard Europe, which makes everything easier and nicer. We recently celebrated the “100k Likes on Facebook” party in Madrid, as we reached that incredible number on our fan page. People from all over Spain and Europe came along to celebrate with us in an epic party that lasted the whole weekend, full of longboard activities and fun.
So in the end, it’s not only about the “Girl Stoke” but also about the general stoke coming from each and every one of us who love this sport … we just do it from a girl’s point of view.