Guest post from our Cape Town homeboy Disco Stu, his take on the state of the gromnation and how things are ‘evolving’.
What goes around groms around
There are more and more of them. They conjugate on well-known spots like flies to
dead matter. They squirm like maggots over the dead carcass of a hill that was once a
serene spot for those who were allowed to know of. Hectic. Ja, I know. Resentment, nah.
Jealousy? Maybe. Helplessness, definitely. Pride too, for that matter. For as our scene
grows, so does the talent and capabilities of longboarding in South Africa. However,
along with this growth comes the burden of responsibility… and I think many are at odds
as to what this exactly means.
What is a grom? Well, you’re a blerrie grom if you ask me this. To be honest, the notion
of true groms has only cropped up to me over the last year or so. Before that there were
youngsters who needed guidance, discipline, a proper klap over the kop (with a helmet
on) and a lesson on drafting down the hill. They needed an introduction and a bit of
a wheels-on guidebook to the unwritten laws of our family values. However, I think
personally I was far too nice. FAR too nice.
A few of us bearded, musty, bear-drinking, job-owning, degree-finishing, car-driving,
helmet-wearing faja’s got together over a bonfire and grabbed our boep-enlarging vesicles
for a chin-wag. We were reminiscing of a time when you arrived at a hill either devoid
of thane or marked with the faintest thane lines from your previous encounter. We shared
stories of our first setups consisting of some surfer crust’s long-forgotten wheels, trucks
made of wood and making a plank out of anything (even the kitchen sink for that ‘deep-
tub’ concave). Gone are the days of lining up at the race-line with 30 guys you partied
with the night before. Gone are the days when Blue Whiskey was premium, when
Otangs, BigZigs and your mom’s stolen gardening gloves and grandma’s chopping board
the best you could get.
Shit, I sound like an old fart hey? Look at him going about “when this, when that”. Well
I can promise you this; I’m not that old yet and the farts I release be fresh mothertruckers.
The point of this miniscule piece pertaining to our sport is not just to talk of times of old,
it’s of times to come if we continue condoning misuse of our turf.
Nowadays I arrive at a hill to find the road covered in fresh thane. Sometimes there are
a few microgroms still licking and sniffing the less-ingrained remnants from the road.
What a wonderful sight! Yellow, red, white and that siff, old, brown-kinda colour thane
telling stories of high-siding, new-wheels, cored-wheels, toesides and heelsides. The
verge of the road, however, tells me a different story altogether. Leftover sticker-peels,
soda cans, mommy’s lunch treats and more-and-more often your own darn skate-gear.
The residents also tell a different story. They shout at me to ‘give it a rest’ and ‘I don’t
need your screaming and shouting again’. Groms were here…
Of course these above statements don’t ring true for all spots and all underlings.
Yes, ‘grom’ does generally entail the younger specimens of our sport. Yet, more than
anything, it alludes to a mentality. A disrespect. A disrespect that is faintly growing. One
that I sure-as-hell can’t do anything about, on my own.
One big thing I have to make sure I mention is that I’m sick-and-tired of telling guys to
slap on a helmet, when they can afford everything-else but a brain-saver. You see a guy
without a helmet, send him home. Just do it. I absolutely love my downhill family, but
family care and loving don’t just go one-way. Stop making videos with labels of the road/
spot-names in them. Your gromhaviour (see what I did there?) only invites other noobs
to crash your dearly-beloved tar. Don’t ask where a spot is either. In time you’ll more than
likely skate it, without even knowing it. There’s so little tar in and around our mother-city
that the hills are bound to get a little crowded from time-to-time.
The turnover of skate-goods is absolutely astounding. How many of you still have
the board you first stepped on? The one you got your first roastie off? The first set of
trucks you wobbled on? The first set of trucks I wobbled on most recently sent me
through to a quarter-finals heat. They’ve got more longevity than you can imagine, if
you treat them right. So why do I care for my skate-gear so much? Maybe it’s because I
bought everything with my own sweat, blood, tears and hussling. Mom and Dad didn’t
understand this strange new sport of hurtling myself down a hill to potentially remove
slices of epidermis and crack bone and they sure-as-hell weren’t going to support it.
I was ridiculously-stoked to get fifth-hand BigZigs as my first race-wheels. My first
race-board wasn’t even all-mine, we shared it at the race (thank goodness one of us got
knocked out early… me). What I’m trying to say, is that buying the best sure as hell
doesn’t make you the best. The age-old saying of, “it’s the rider, not the equipment” is
true as f… frothing when you see a new Boardyard helmet.
On this note, just because you’re riding what the world #1 wipes his nose with, doesn’t
guarantee a faultless run down any hill you feel like. How long did these pro’s we know
today scream around on cast trucks before precision was all-that precise? You can go a
long way with about a tenth of the average grom-budget that gets dropped. Save some
cash to buy the faja’s driving around some petrol and boep-inducing golden deliciousness.
I’m not saying all this trading is bad, it’s deliciously rich in bargains. The possibilities
of trying new ranges of every type of equipment in our sport are limitless. Just don’t be
too quick to assume a ‘new release’ is the best option and spend your (or your parents)
hard-earned cash so frivolously. Enough of the goods-talk. Raoul, Matt and Co. have
had ample time laying down some hard lines when it comes to sponsorship etc. What I
want to end off on is the notion of respect. It’s true that’s it’s earned, but don’t be so silly
to think that just because you’re fast on your plank with shiny new everything, or because
you can bust that slide no-one else can that you’ve got respect. What a false respect that
At the recent slide-jam I was disappointed at the amount of dishonesty in our ranks. Now
I’m not just talking about the dick-move of constantly cutting-in. That’s going to happen,
lank chilled. But I’m also talking of the stealing. Not to mention dishonesty when it came
to paying a mere 20 bucks to support a cause. I saw plenty of supporter-bands being worn
by those fortunate enough to shred an open-hill for a day (shame on you those sponsored
riders who fall culprit!) If you can’t pay less than a spacers-worth of dosh on a jam to
promote our sport (and the amazing efforts of a few) I feel a little ashamed to say I ride
These points I bring up of respect, honesty and a smidgeon of integrity have a purpose.
To those of you newly-sponsored riders, on the cusp of some kind of maturity and
further-studies I say this: be mindful of your actions and social-media sputterings. You
make the bed you’re going to sleep in. Us faja’s aren’t all going to be around forever.
Many of my role-models and fellow riders I look-to for advice get harder to reach every
year. Your actions and intent within the sport lay the foundations for those groms you
already find oh-so-pesky. Yes, you’re setting an example. On the flipside, I certainly learn
a lot from you youngsters! Whether intentionally or not, you’re showing what can and
can’t be done (both on and off the board). So grow up a bit and come stand with me and
the other toppies at the back of the line. We’ve still got a lot to teach you too…
Oh, and if you don’t take this with a Sunday-lunch Ina Paarman infused pinch of salt,
come find me at the top of a hill.