” It’s not Just Skateboarding. It’s the whole culture that surrounds it”
~ Jonny Miller, Overheard from a Toyland Conversation
WORDS: Jake Grove PHOTOS: Benjamin Solano & Jake Grove
This year, the reunion event went down similar to the past years, but of course with its own unique twist. As a tighter bound gathering Jonny reached out to the skaters closest to him and the Toyland mentality, and let them all know the plans he had for the weekend. It’s never certain who will show up, but each year it seems select riders travel from as far as across the country for the Toyland Experience. With a destination in mind, and no idea who else may come through, we knew there was only one way to find out…
Stoked to make it up to the event after a week at work, the homie Ben Solano and I took a shorter trek up from San Diego, and filled the Jeep with a steady quiver of boards, cameras, and camping gear to experience and document this unique culture. As we pressed time up the coast highway, the terrain shifted from a city-scaped LA to mountainous Santa Barbara, and then into the rolling hills, coastlines, and valley feels approaching Los Osos; but not without a pit-stop through Pismo Beach first.
Jonny took us in as his own, and made sure we we’re right at home in his DIY filled place. If ever in the Los Osos area, Toy Land is a destination full of such a rich skate, surf, and art culture and history – a canvas of Jonny’s mind.
If you’ve never witnessed a skatepark “Death-Race”, here’s how it goes down “toyland style”; Jonny rents out the local Los Osos park for the morning, and has a pump line in his mind – then spelled out by slalom cones secured to the surface. In this case, a high tech slalom timing system is used and it is a timed course handled by the one and only Di Dootson.
Sounds simple right? The only challenge is to remember the exact line weaving through the same cones multiple times, not taking out a single one, and pumping your heart out to better your time by the second needed to place up. That said, its was all in good competition, and once the race started it went off quick as can be; yet we all had plenty of time to get our three times in. Check out the shots we got between our runs below!
As the race course called it’s last runs, and it was shouted for riders to get their last times in, a mini bowl jam came together, and of course Jonny was the master judge of style. This event had a different objective; whoever gets the most stylish runs and lines in, old school oriented tricks, and can get the crowd screaming the loudest takes the win. All different ages and experiences, yet shared objective. I managed to blow it by leaving my fisheye back in SD, but with another wide angle and a little change in angles we made it work and captured some split moments of this jam.
You’d think at this point riders would go on their way as the main competition was done, right? Wrong.
This is Toyland, the party is only just beginning. Onto the mini ramp jam, while the backyard band gets warmed up!
After the skating came to a close for the day, the bands went on and as the afternoon shifted to evening the party went on. It wasn’t just a skate event of skaters; both old friends and new were surrounded in such a rich culture and brought together in a sense of “family”. Check out some of the lifestyle below!
Once the first venue, the Toyland Backyard Jam, came to a close the party shifted down the street to one of the older bars on the Central Coast; the Sweet Springs Saloon. Live music, Cold Beers, Pool Tables, and stories of skate’s past. Toyland brings it all together.
The weekend wasn’t done after one day… are you kidding me?! We still have a morning to go! Cyber Slalom on the ride south. This is an event where each rider is a part of something bigger; a family that continues to skate together. All weekend long!
And that’s that; a short time, yet long weekend – with a lot of events between. It’s always a killer time visiting toyland, and getting hectic with Jonny and crew, especially through this annual reunion gathering. There’s not much else to say that this article didn’t touch; toyland is a good time, Jonny Miller is roots and kills it, and all the other skaters involved in the mentality and culture are what keep it happening. Big thanks to the crew that made it happen the way it did, and to everyone that lended a hand setting up, running the competitions, the bands flowing rhythms, and an always-crucial thanks to this simple board that carries us all so far.
Special thanks goes out to Jonny Miller, Di Dootson, Abec 11, Gravity Boards, Azhiaziam, Old Bones, and the Sweet Springs Saloon. Until next time boys!
P.S. If this recap got you hyped or you have any creative input as well, please hit me back in the comment box below and I would be stoked! Always open to hear what all wheelbase readers have to say!