New York’s East Village is a really cool neighborhood where you can find lot of pubs, vintage shops, quiet streets, theatres and cinemas. But what about Skateboarding? Let’s find out what this neighborhood can offer to the skateboarder!
For those not so familiar with the East Village neighborhood in New York, here is a little introduction .The East Village is a neighborhood of Manhattan, known as the birthplace of many artistic movements such as punk rock and the Nuyorican literary movement. The East Village is still known for its diverse community, vibrant nightlife and artistic sensibility, becoming a center of the counterculture in New York as well as being a site of protests and riots. Learn more about the East Village here.
Walking through the neighborhood, you will easily meet lots of Skateboarders. Most meet at Tompkins Square Park, a little Park right in the center of the East Village. This place is a big playground where skateboarders can practice peacefully surrounded by trees and singing birds. This is the main spot of the East Village.
After Skateboarding, most of the skateboarders like to chill at a really uncommon skateshop at 11th street with First Ave. The shop is called Reciprocal skateshop and has the particularity of having a lot of working pinball machines inside. It’s a really nice place to chill and to have good time. The owner, Jon, is a very nice and cool guy who agreed to talk with me for a few minutes and tell me how he got into owning a skateshop.
He has been in the business for 6 years and he told that Reciprocal first started as a shop making skateboards out of an apartment!
I asked him about all the pinball machines in his shop:
Well that’s how I came into owning the shop. I was a mechanic, I was working on cars and I restored the pinballs machines. I put the pinball machines here, the owner of the shop realized pinball machines were a big success. The shop was falling and he told me he was about to close. The guy asked me if I wanted to buy it, I said yes and in exchange he tought me how to build boards and everything else.
I was curious to know if he organized some events or workshops with the shop but found out that “Events are not my thing, I don’t organize skateboarding events but I organize pinball tournaments! We leave skateboarding events to the pros.”
Jon explained that the shop was sponsoring some local skateboarder, a way to support the local scene. Reciprocal has a team with 7 skateboarders, but it is complicated to keep the team alive because all the team riders are from New York and once they graduate from school, most of them move away, or others stop skateboarding altogether. They are also in the process of putting together their third video called unrequited.
Jon not only makes and sells boards, but he also believes in the power of the board:
Skateboarding is one of the healthiest thing kids could do, you know, it’s athletic, it builds strength, it builds camaraderie, acrobatics, hand-eye coordination and foot-eye coordination. It was kind of considered a crime and now it’s a very embraced sport. There are always kids in the shop. 20 years ago you wouldn’t find kids from the Bronx here, it crosses a lot of racial divides, you wouldn’t see black kids and Puerto Rican kids, skateboarding wasn’t accessible to them as it’s kind of a pricy hobby. Now those barriers have been broken down. I think it’s a totally healthy thing for society. It’s good to see that everybody’s got access to the sport now.
I was also curious to find out what he thinks about the “go skateboarding” day event:
I’m not really into that particular day. I think its intent is good but its delivery misses the mark a bit. It’s a good thing; it’s better than a “no skateboarding day”. Go skateboarding day is a marketing gimmick by the industry. Skateboarding is a hobby but the industry teaches the kids to skate with the intent to become a pro so they just keep buying boards. But I believe skateboarding should be a fun hobby, like anything else. Like pinball!
So if you are in New York and in the mood for a skateboarding session or just some pinballing fun, stop by in this funky shop and you’ll have great time for sure!