In Santa Cruz in June, the air is tinged with salt, the sun is white hot, and the concrete streets reflect waves of heat in undulating mirages. If you stick to the west side of town, you may find shelter underneath the towering Redwoods – we don’t, though. I meet Veda and Amy at a small skate park on the east side. Their hair is loose and long, windswept and sun-bleached. I notice huge bruises and scars on both their legs. Wearing an unofficial uniform of denim cutoffs, Converse, and knee high tube socks, they embody a California cool that feels worn in and handed down from the 1970’s. Veda looks around. “I’ve never been to this part of town,” she says. “Don’t you live just right up the coast there?” I point. “Yeah,” she shrugs, “I’ve just never needed to come down here.” They remind me of simpler times, when all my friends lived down the street and long afternoons floated by in a haze of pizza runs and self-appointed skate missions.
We head to another park, a local landmark with a full pipe, to meet Kim and the other girls. Veda drops into the steep bowl on an old school mini cruiser, just because. One of the guys watching asks to try. He eats it, hard. In between taking photos, I almost forget we’re at a public park. The girls have a presence that’s hard to ignore and soon it feels like they own the place. They’re polite, encouraging, and remarkably laid back. Somehow, they’re able to compete with each other in a positive way: each girl daring the next to push things a little further, and always congratulating each other on their attempts. They don’t flaunt it, but the Lady Lurkers are good. Their determined energy is contagious and I’m almost tempted give it a go. Instead, the relentless sun finally setting, I decide to go home and practice.
The Lady Lurkers are an all-women’s skate crew based in the coastal beach town of Santa Cruz, CA. Their crew is a result of repeated encounters at the local skate parks: after running into each other too many times to count, they decided to call it fate and skate together on purpose. The group, which consists of a dozen skaters ranging from their mid-teens to thirties, acts as a symbol of encouragement for female skaters, both in real life and online. By showing up to local parks together and posting their progress on social media, the Lady Lurkers inspire women to conquer their fears, own the park, and shred even, and especially, when outnumbered by men.