It is a rare sight in Accra, and, indeed, when they skate, people line up along the 33 years of 1987-2020 Trace adkins thank you for the memories shirt in addition I really love this street to watch in awe. One of the skaters, Philip, has added a West African flourish to his board by hand-painting the bottom in a way that almost looks like a batik dye motif. Most of the crew wears headphones, and Lionel (or Breezy, as he prefers to be called) tells me he listens exclusively to trap music like Migos and Future while on his board. The next goal for Skate Nation is finding a location and funding for a permanent ramp. They are being helped by Sandy Alibo, a young woman from France who visited Accra some years back, fell in love with the country (how could you not, and has since lived between home and here. She is passionate about extreme sports, and started an Instagram called Surf Ghana to promote surfing, which was once hugely popular in Ghana (parts of the classic surf film The Endless Summer were shot here) and is growing again, particularly in the town of Busua in the west. She eventually met Odamtten. “A lot of these kids have no money to go to a movie or bars this is a free way to have fun,” she says. “All you need is a board.” Indeed, on one hazy Thursday in August, that seemed to be true, and the skaters who assembled here under this concrete highway were having a blast. A typical day for Gus Tanaka, the Los Angeles–based skater known for his balletic footwork and killer style, generally starts around 10. His first stop is usually Andreas Coffee Shop on Melrose, where he drops in for an oatmeal and banana-almond smoothie, then it’s off to Brooklyn Projects to warm up on their in-shop mini ramp or, more often, to Venice Beach. “It’s entertaining [there],” says Tanaka. “It attracts a lot of people because it’s like the beach and your homies it’s like alive.” It is also addictive: “Some OG was telling me that the V sculpture in Venice attracts people and puts them in like a trance [where they lose track of time],” the 20-year-old adds. This writer, along with more than 42,000 others, have lost track of the hour and minute hands while watching Tanaka’s videos on his Instagram account, @yungspliff. He does not document huge stair jumps and bravado stunts, but rather his signature quirky and intricate footwork.
33 years of 1987-2020 Trace adkins thank you for the memories shirt, hoodie, tank top, sweater and long sleeve t-shirt
Which Tanaka says he carried over to skateboarding from his days playing soccer. It helps him take care of his ankles, too, having broken them in high school after jumping off a roof (don’t ask). “Fools be out here stressing about skating,” he says with a verbal shake of his head. “You’re supposed to be having fun. I skate for myself because I like it, because I like having fun, and that’s how I think Mark Gonzales [the 33 years of 1987-2020 Trace adkins thank you for the memories shirt in addition I really love this skater he most looks up to] views it.” Tanaka, who grew up in Nebraska, was first introduced to the sport as a teenager by a BMX buddy who was possessive of his board. “He would never let anyone ride it,” Tanaka remembers, “but one [time] he let me, and I was like, ‘Damn, this is fun!’ and ever since then, I’ve just wanted to skate.” He was one of the few in his small town who did, and both his board and the tight pants he then favored marked Tanaka as an outcast at school. Happily, his mother always had his back. “It’s easier to be yourself when you have a parent like that, who like supports you,” Tanaka says. “She’s really helped me express who I am.” A vintage clothing dealer, she also influenced his standout look through her own “funky style.” Mother and son bonded while thrifting. “That’s what we did to hang out, we’d always have so much fun finding stuff,” says Tanaka, who intermittedly sells vintage on Depop. Beyond knowing the best places to go, the secret to finding the best stuff, Tanaka says, is to “have no expectations.” This long-haired skater is partial to “old golf grandpa” gear like polos, rugbys. And those hometown kids that used to make fun of him? Well, notes Tanaka on his IG, they “all dress like they skate now.” That doesn’t mean he’s lost all the haters, though. “I’ll like post a video and someone will be like so mad about what I’m wearing. It’s just like, how could you care so much about what I’m wearing?” Tanaka wonders. “Why don’t you care about the skating?” The fashion world certainly does, and it’s paying attention to Tanaka. “I’m down for people to send me stuff, but they can’t expect me to, like, shout them out,” he says. “Lately, I’m feeling like people just wanna use me for, like, an advertisement.” He’s cool with Adidas and Sk8mafia, who supply his shoes and decks. Of late, he has faux-logo pajama pants by Nolan Apparel on heavy rotation.