The rise in Chicago’s skate scene is getting faster than the skaters themselves. As skate culture has increasingly gained mass popularity within the past few years, it has created a following for those a part of the community. That said, it creates a sense of belonging for both individuals who skate professionally as well as leisurely. Whether an individual knows how to skate or wishes to learn, the idea of skating has nonetheless transformed into a whole new concept for those infatuated with the culture.
One of the biggest indicators of the growth is the variety of individuals found at Chicago skateparks such as Grant. Upon visiting Grant Skatepark, it is apparent here lies a hub of skaters that come from all over the Midwest. Many come from the city of Chicago as well as surrounding suburbs on a weekly and daily basis. In addition to regulars, many dedicated skaters even travel from other states to come to Grant skatepark. Thus said, when I first moved to Chicago, I met a friend group of skaters that moved all the way from California whom I soon became close friends with. Sometime after, I ended up meeting another group of friends who traveled from various places like Minnesota and Wisconsin who moved after falling in love with Chicago’s skating community. Now looking back, it is incredible to think how distant every individual was before coming to the city of Chicago.
Furthermore, the magnetic feeling these skaters feel towards Chicago is notably evident through a friend of mine who has been skating for about 12 years now, Konrad. Currently signed with Prosper Skate Shop and Aloha Worldwide Shop, he has stayed dedicated to Chicago’s skate community for more than half his lifetime. Upon asking what skateboarding meant to him, he began by prefacing that it meant a whole variety of different things. He describes skateboarding as a getaway from reality, a place where he can feel and let go of his emotions, and a loving, accepting community. He emphasized how it has helped him improve as a person due to the social concept of getting to meet different people from various backgrounds. He finalized his definition of skateboarding as “the gathering of separate communities into one.”
With the upbringing of skaters in Chicago, it, unfortunately, creates an upbringing of crime within skate parks. Konrad mentioned the crime at the skate parks he goes to which has become more prevalent in recent years. He explained how it is mostly “just a lot of random people coming to the skate park with malice intent making it harder to find that community”. Though skaters should be wary of those with bad intentions, he pushes “For those interested in joining the skateboarding community, go to the skate park and try talking to someone who has a skateboard. Be honest, tell them your experience level, and don’t be afraid to ask questions”.