By Joshua Burrell, Staff Writer
If the Atlanta University Center (AUC) is a microcosm of the Black community, then there have to be different facets to adhere to every subculture. There are music, art, fashion, business, and photography collectives in the AUC, but something new is rolling in: roller skating.
The Young Black Folks (YBF) Sk8 Krew is a fairly new collective founded by Morehouse juniors Thomas Hammond and Troy Jones. Their practice is like their presence — quiet, composed and uniquely structured. The group of about 30 members practices anywhere they can in the AUC.
Right now, they’re practicing underground and unseen in the basement of Spelman College’s Fine Arts Building.
They skate on a soot brown tiled floor in a small closet like room. The room is lit by sharp bright light bulbs that stare from the walls in groups adjacent to mirrors that rests over white counters.
The room has a history; the vents exhale cool air throughout the room, but YBF Sk8 Krew breathes life into an otherwise dull space.
A Sony speaker sings early-2000s jams while members lace their skates and stretch in silence. There’s a balance between the quiet skaters and the clicks, clacks and clamor of quad skates dancing to loud music.
Once the majority of the group arrived they discussed and reworked choreography for their upcoming performance in late March at Art After Dark.
Before their practice started rolling, a conversation bounced around stressing consistency and communication in the collective. The idea of becoming a Registered Student Organization (RSO) was toyed with but lost traction because they agreed that a hierarchical structure was a deterrent. Although they wanted structure, freedom was highly emphasized.
“When I first started skating I didn’t think people would come out,” Hammond said. “I do want to make YBF official.”
Their members come out from Spelhouse, Morris Brown College, Georgia State University (GSU) and even Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Unfortunately the group has tried to skate in front of King’s Chapel and on ground level of parking decks, but have been asked to move.
Giving the YBF Sk8 Krew an official structure may motivate AUC institutions to take them seriously by offering consistency, and a consistent group gives the illusion of dedication and safety.
But the YBF Sk8 Krew acknowledged how too much structure could deter people from joining because new members could begin to feel intimidated.
“We have to be really adamant about teaching people,” Austin Cutler said. “Some people will see advanced skaters and feel intimidated.”
“You have to be a good teacher though,” Dominique Casamajor said. “If you’re going to teach you must have structure. It can’t be like, ‘If you can’t get the move then you’re off the team.’”
Disagreement between how and when to remove members from the team rose. Would new members have to uphold a level of skill to stay on? Or would people maintain membership by consistently coming to practice? Is skill or dedication the delineation between members and non-members?
“There are differences in skaters,” Marcus Mosiah “MM Smith” Smith said. “You really just have to be dedicated to not be intimidated by other people. You need to understand how you perform and excel as a skater.”
Consistency and dedication were conversation focal points which skaters agreed would determine a person’s membership. Lack of visibility and participation are major causes for removal, but the YBF Sk8 Krew is an open space that prioritizes practice and hands-on learning so, regardless of skill level, everyone can have fun.