Live it Up, 2010
You’d have been so proud of me.
I went to the East Coast Surfing Competition on Saturday. This was the 48th ECSC, as it’s known around here. Through the years it’s attracted surfers from up and down the East Coast, with a few celebrity surfers thrown in to spice things up and draw a crowd. But it’s also always been something of an iffy proposition because some years there was hardly any surf to ride.
This year, though, Hurricane Danielle sent swells ashore that made for great waves when they hit the beach at the south end of the Virginia Beach resort area.
Back when ECSC first started, it really was about the sport, which in the early 1960s was just starting to make the transition from the heavy wooden boards of the Hawaiians progenitors to lighter and sleeker fiberglass boards. ECSC may never have been a purely grassroots thing. But the concept of “sports marketing” and the idea that such events could be packaged as marketing extravaganzas was still in its infancy back then. Today’s sports marketing pros would probably wince at all the money the early organizers “left in the sand.”
The innocence of those days is long gone. ECSC in 2010 is still about the surf. The surfing enthusiasts, a mostly 40-something crowd punctuated by the occasional young person with a board, hugged the shoreline on Saturday morning to watch the action on the water. But the real crowd was the gridlocked scrum of 14 year-old boys and girls lined up in the vendor area to get spray-on tattoos, free energy drinks, shots at the skateboarding half pipes and a good place to stand and watch motorbike acrobats. In short, it was prime territory for the hormonally advancing.
On yeah, and music. As I was leaving on Saturday, a band of young men with hearty Celtic brogues was launching into a heavy metal screed that had as its refrain, “I’m so stoned and I’m not going to do anything about it!”
But that’s not the part you’d be proud of. Some places you go these days it seems like everyone under the age of twenty has a tattoo, and I’m not talking about the spray-on ones that the suburban teenyboppers can wash off before Mom sees them. No, there were lots of people at ECSC with whole stretches of their bodies covered with epic graphic novel-like statements. The kid, above, in Live it Up was one of the tamest examples. But he’s the first person that I actually stopped on the boardwalk and asked if I could photograph.
It is like they say. The first one’s the hardest. Then it gets easier. After I stopped this kid, I saw three cute girls wearing “I Love Virginia Beach” hats sitting on a bench. They said “yes,” too, although one asked me to wait until she’d finished a mouthful of gyro. After that, I had no shame. I asked anyone if I could photograph them.
In retrospect, I supposed that to some of these kids the idea of saying no to me would have been like saying no to their grandfathers. Whatever the case, I’m on a roll.