Skating can be a bridge in L.A. These 3 crews show how bonds form on four wheels

Crenshaw Skate Club; Boos Cruise; Neighbors Skate Shop
Crenshaw Skate Club (James Michael Juarez / For The Times); Boos Cruise (Madeleine Hordinski / Los Angeles Times); Neighbors Skate Shop
(Adam Perez / For The Times)
Share

This is part of Image Issue 4, “Image Makers,” a paean to L.A.’s luminaries of style. In this issue, we pay tribute to the people and brands pushing fashion culture in the city forward.

Skateboarding has always been a means of transportation for me. As a teenager, it was easy to grab my longboard and kick-push over to a friend’s house, a beach bonfire or school. My skating was usually solitary and never progressed to attempting complicated tricks. I’d often pass skate parks filled with young white men who effortlessly flipped and soared across ramps and through the air. I was never welcomed into those spaces as anything more than a swooning bystander — anything else prompted them skidding across my path or a barrage of dirty looks.

YaYa Chavez, who is also a queer person of color, had a similar relationship with skating for most of their life. They met up with different collectives across the country in search of a community they identified with but never felt seen. When California Gov. Gavin Newsom instructed state residents to stay at home during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, they decided that they would use their time in isolation to create a skate collective that centered queer skaters of color. Chavez says queer and skate culture have many things in common: “The world we live in rejects [queer people of color]. We are going against the grain just being us, and I think skate culture is about going against the grain. Skate culture is really powerful but it’s also really white, straight and male.”

Advertisement

After a few false starts in time with rising and falling local coronavirus cases, Boos Cruise became a weekly Wednesday night meet-up at Chevy Chase Park, near Glendale, earlier this summer. Attendance has doubled each week, with its peak just under 70 people. At least once a week, a mix of trans, nonbinary people and women outnumbers the regulars at the skate park. Besides being a draw for a community that has been so desperately needed, there’s a lot of flirting going on. “Skating builds confidence, confidence is hot,” Chavez laughs.

As the meet-up grows, there is fear that the original intention of the Boos Cruise collective will be lost. Like so many other things created by queer people of color, when they become popular, many of the original participants lose their access. It’s something I and other QPOC attendees have discussed. Attendees are determined to keep it a place that feels like home to people who have been pushed into the margins. It doesn’t matter if you’ve skated your whole life or are just stepping on a board for the first time — the collective welcomes those who are looking for a place to belong.

As this photo essay depicting three L.A. crews shows, new friends are made, camaraderie is built and sometimes the bonds become the genesis for new meet-ups, new crews to be born. Skating can be a bridge. “I just facilitate,” Chavez says. “My work here is done.”

Crenshaw Skate Club

Dylan Major wears CSC K&K Hoodie in Sandstone, $72
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)
From left to right: Dylan Major, Brandon Burrell, Jon Alamilla, Jalen Frey, Brandon DeCoud, Tobias McIntosh, and Erei Reyes
From left to right: Dylan Major, Brandon Burrell, Jon Alamilla, Jalen Frey, Brandon DeCoud, Tobias McIntosh, and Erei Reyes photographed on Thursday, August 26, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)
Tobias McIntosh wears CSC X The Hundreds Tobey cTee, $39
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)
Brandon Burrell wears CSC Square Tee, $30
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)
Advertisement

Jon Alamilla wears CSC OG Logo Tee in Black, $30
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)
Jalen Frey wears CSC SF Tee in Chocolate, $30
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)
Brandon DeCoud wears CSC Bling OG Logo Hoodie in Forest, $72
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)
Crenshaw Skate Club photographed on Thursday, August 26, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
(James Michael Juarez/For The Times)

Boos Cruise

Omari Harmon poses for a portrait in denim overalls and blue bucket hat while holding a skateboard
Omari Harmon poses for a portrait at a Boos Cruise meet up on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Los Angeles, CA.
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)
Elena Heuze (left) and girlfriend Manda Malina (right) kiss at the Boos Cruise meet up
Elena Heuze (left) and girlfriend Manda Malina (right) kiss at the Boos Cruise meet up on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Los Angeles, CA.
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)
Boos Cruise members line up their skateboards
Boos Cruise members line up their skateboards on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Los Angeles, CA.
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)
Boos Cruise member, Matt Pasini
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)
Boos Cruise member, Syria
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)
Boos Cruise members stretch before they practice skating on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Los Angeles, CA.
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)
Advertisement

From left to right: Steph Whyte, Sprout, Omari Harmon, Kyra Price and Taylor Roberts-Sampson
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)
Cerise Castle (left), Boos Cruise founder, YaYa Chavez (center), and Torrie Krantz (right) skate
Cerise Castle (left), Boos Cruise founder, YaYa Chavez (center), and Torrie Krantz (right)
(Madeleine Hordinski/Los Angeles Times)

Neighbors Skate Shop

Tré, 34, founder and co-owner of Neighbors Skate Shop
(Adam Perez/For The Times)
Maury Watson of Neighbors Skate Shop sitting outside wearing a graphic beanie and sunglasses
Maury Watson picked up his first board at 7 years old. He’s from Long Beach and was involved with Neighbors Skate Shop before it opened its doors two years ago. “Skate boarding and fashion go hand in hand,” he said.
(Adam Perez/For The Times)
Malcolm Emilio is an artist from Leimert Park and painted murals at Neighbors Skate Shop.
(Adam Perez/For The Times)
Malakai Brinson, 15, from Inglewood, works as an intern at Neighbors Skate Shop.
(Adam Perez/For The Times)
Kilam McCullough, 25, lives in Leimert Park and has worked at Neighbors Skate Shop since it opened two years ago.
Kilam McCullough, 25, lives in Leimert Park and has worked at Neighbors Skate Shop since it opened two years ago.
(Adam Perez/For The Times)
Cleon Array, Tré, Nift, Mackksaray Macksa, Gionny Singleton, KilaM McCullough, Brandon DeCoud, Malakai Brinson, Maury Watson
Outside Neighbors Skate Shop from left to right: Cleon Array, Tré, Nift (seated) wears Neighbors Skate Shop TV Tee in Olive ($36), Mackksaray Macksa, Gionny Singleton wears Leimert Park Throwie Tee in Green ($36), Malik a.k.a. KilaM McCullough wears Neighbors Skate Shop Sankofa Tee ($36), Brandon DeCoud wears Neighbors Skate Shop Leimert Park Throwie Tee in Grey ($36), Malakai Brinson, and Maury Watson.
(Adam Perez/For The Times)

Cerise Castle is a Los Angeles-based multimedia journalist specializing in arts and culture, civil rights, crime and human-interest stories. She has produced and hosted segments for the Emmy-winning nightly news program “VICE News Tonight,” reported stories for National Public Radio and produced two series for podcasting giant Wondery. Castle reported the first-ever history of gangs inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for Knock L.A. Her writing has been featured in publications like the Daily Beast, Los Angeles Magazine and MTV. In her free time, she is an avid hiker and stargazer.

Advertisement