Los Angeles is a sprawling 502.7 square miles and the skate community is spread out into every corner of the county. The Gel Lab Shred Sessions have given many of us here in LA’s somewhat splintered community an outlet to gather together and Get Rad. I’ve watched these sessions blossom into a popular, nocturnal, and weekly skate-gathering. The sessions begin at 9PM—a late session to accommodate everyone. The youngest groms get picked up by mom & dad before midnight, but the elders stay rolling and hanging sometimes into the early morning hours. Every week the session is held at a different location—one of my favorites being the Wilshire Cruise, in Santa Monica. We gather for that session at the 7-11 on Wilshire Blvd and cruise down 45 blocks to the beach and follow that by hitting-and-quitting every parking garage on the way to the legendary Bicknell Hill. After some powerslides in the boardwalk, we usually call it a night. Another of my favorite reoccurring Gel Lab Sessions is held at Parkway Calabasas—a long, wide, steep, and well-lit freeride hill with a lovely lurk spot at the top. It has absolutely no traffic because the road leads to a business at the top that is closed well before we show up to skate. At a recent session at Parkway Calabasas we had a little raffle for Orangatang wheels and Ojoom Slide Pucks to benefit the Los Angeles Homeless Shelter. Two non-perishable food items were all that was needed in exchange for a chance to win some skate swag—a pretty thoughtful tradeoff. The kids were psyched and it brought in plenty of donations for the shelter. Marcus Bandy, our editor here at Wheelbase, rode his motorcycle up the 405 from Long Beach to join in on the fun shred-times and photographically capture a little bit of what goes on at these Gel Lab Sessions.
Besides the Wilshire Cruise and Parkway Calabasas, we also venture out to Downtown LA, LAX, Thousand Oaks, Burbank, Augora Hills, and a few other cool spots. Wherever the session take place, we are all sure to get-down on our skateboards and have a hell of a good time.
You may be wondering what The Gel Lab is exactly and who is behind these radical Shred Sessions? Well, the man behind Gel Lab and our weekly sessions is none other than Loaded skate and film ambassador, and professional story-teller, Ari Chamasmany. Who better to tell you about it all than Ari himself:
“Long-time friend and business partner Matt Elliott and I came up with the idea of The Gel Lab back in early 2009 as a means by which we could produce and brand various creative endeavors we had been working on. Since everyone involved in Gel Labs had a skateboard, we later decided to start The Gel Lab Shred Sessions as an extention of the original vision. This initially started out as five or so of us going out on Wednesday nights and skating street and parking structures and then eventually it grew to be anywhere from fifteen to thirty people showing up every week, hungry to skate. These sessions are like a glorified book club, except . . . for skateboards, and other creative outlets” (Ari Chamasmany)
This multi-talented fellow has been a dear friend of mine since the very first time I visited Los Angeles. It’s been exciting watching him succeed in so many ways and become such a positive impact in our skate community. He has certainly inspired me to stay involved in my passions, both in and out of skateboarding—such as surfing, photography, and writing.
I’ve watched the Gel Lab Shred Session’s turnout grow exponentially in the past year and the growing number of gals in attendance has steadily increased as well. Rachel Bagels and other ladies such as Daisy Johannes are awesome lady shredders who have been coming to the Gel Lab Sessions since I first started going.
“I love Sessions. They are such a sick crew. Wednesday nights are always something I look forward to. From the cruises, the explorations, to just staying home at parkway, it is always a blast. I have gone so many places, learned so many things and met so many awesome people. They have given me new insight into the scene and I love every single minute of it. I can’t wait til tomorrow! Yay! :3 He, he, he!” (Rachel Bagels)
Claudia Arce, Jackie Lum, and Sammi Leon are a couple other girls that have been showing their lovely faces more and more often at the sessions, and there are always a couple newcomers and first-timers testing out the waters each week. Seeing Ari take initiative to get out there and make something happen for the LA skate kids really inspired Daisy, Rachel, and I to seek out the skater ladies of Los Angeles. We wanted to give them a commonplace to chat and coordinate sessions together, so we created a Facebook page called Girls Skate LA. We girl-talk about skating in that group and then make it happen at various spots around the greater LA area, my current favorite being our Sunday sessions at Venice Beach. Join the group if you’re a skater babe in LA and want to skate with us!
Skate sessions such as Gel Lab Sessions and Girls Skate LA have become my church. I set aside these times to gather with my local skate parish and worship Skatan. You can join us no matter what you’re into: big boards, little boards, speedboards, slowboards, wiggleboards, sliding, cross-stepping, cruising, pushing, whirly-birds—whatever! Our goal is simply to congregate skateboarders together with from the Los Angeles area, and have a rad time. Every week we succeed not only at that, but also in helping to grow a more healthy, connected, and vibrant skate community in general. What’s your local session? Don’t have one? Make it happen!
If you’re in the Los Angeles area and want to check out the Gel Lab Sessions and find out where it will be next Wednesday, check out the Facebook page: Gel Lab