I was on my way to the largest skateboard session of all time.
Sitting on a plane headed to Mexico City for Emerica’s Wild In The Streets, over 10,000 skaters are getting ready to take over one of the world’s largest and most populated cities on the planet, just with the boards under their feet.
This isn’t just some run of the mill demo. This isn’t Go Skateboarding day. And this isn’t a fucking autograph signing. This is a widespread city skate invasion that Emerica’s been doing since the early 2000’s.
Andrew Reynolds, Bryan Herman, Jerry Hsu, Kevin “Spanky” Long, Figgy, Leo Romero. Travesura, The Goat, Jon Miner and Bucky Gonzalez – the crew was all here.
Each Emerica rider had an escort with a white WITS shirt on. They were to stay with us while skating through the streets. This was important because we didn’t have government security and were expecting about 10,000 people to show up. Without someone with us that knew the language and the location of the safe house, we would be vulnerable to the chaos that is Mexico City. With a city this massive, a run and gun street takeover with that many skaters, the safe house was the one place we would have to escape the potential insanity that was about to ensue. It was the one spot that we were supposed to head to if shit really hit the fan.
We couldn’t hear each other. It was claustrophobic, intense, and filled with adoration all at the same time. The feeling of skating with a mob that massive was mind-blowing. Traffic on both sides of the road was taken over by skaters and the sound of thousands of boards hitting the streets at the same time. Moving together like a massive swarm of bees, I remember thinking it looked like the beginning of a riot.
Each skater had their own mob of locals following them. Leo [Romero] huddled into a corner with the crowd chanting his name. The swarm surrounded him. He had to give in to it. He later told me he could feel their hot breath on him every time they yelled his name.
Police sirens started about a mile in and police motorcycles caught up to us and rode alongside of the pack. They couldn’t do anything, but watch. There were too many of us. The only choice they had was to follow and see where the hell we were going and why.
Everything seemed to be going well until I spotted the police lined up along all of the businesses with riot shields.
I envisioned tear gas or jail. The screaming, the shoving, the grabbing – there was this fine line we were dancing that felt like things could change from fun to extremely dangerous at any second. Just one wrong move, one bad cop, one shove, push, or fight, and this day was going to turn on us completely.
We continued onward and made our way to the plaza, where we had planned to skate the stairs. Working our asses off endlessly clearing a space for Andrew and Herman to skate was almost impossible. They’d try a trick down the steps and the mob moved in. We’d clear a space for the next five minutes again, but the mob retaliated. That’s just how it went.
Frontside flips and hardflips hyped the crowd to a frenzy. With no bullhorn in a crowd this size, we knew we had to exit soon. But at the peak of the mob and a the most intense point of the day, instead of wanting to get the hell out of there, I heard Andrew [Reynolds] yell to Timothy Nickloff, “Let’s give them what they want!!” Andrew tried to continue skating, but it just wasn’t possible anymore. The clearing at the bottom of the stairs was lost. The mob had taken over any space possibly left.
THE POLICE CAR
At some point Leo Romero and Figgy were put into a police car and driven away, but they weren’t being arrested.
Turns out, the cops were there to help us after all. As menacing as this situation looked, the police had realized that we were the reason the mob was there, and there was the possibility that the situation could quickly turn terrible for us. They noticed the crowds surrounding each of the skaters and stepped in to help. Not with tear gas or batons, but with a little elbow grease and an exit vehicle for the skaters.
Even funnier, after understanding that these skaters were some sort of American celebrities, the cops started taking selfies with them. Out of the back window, one of them unbuttoned his uniform and handed Figgy a Sharpie. Figgy signed his white tee as Leo did some documenting of the madness, while pushing away the loaded shotguns casually lying around in the back seat of the car.