Lurking Class Skate Shop
Opened only a few short years ago, Lurking Class Skate Shop quickly became a hub of grassroots activity, from skateboarding to performances to hanging out and trading stories—a homegrown business in the heart of downtown Salisbury that supported the local skating community. From this nerve center, Lurking Class’s skating team helps shop owner Bryan Whipple spread skateboarding’s creative and welcoming ethos across the Eastern Shore. Their participation in this year’s National Folk Festival highlights the artistry, athleticism, and camaraderie of this diverse crew of skaters and the community they’ve built in Salisbury.
Now an international phenomenon, the origins of skateboarding are modest enough. It started with mid-century youth building proto-skateboards out of found materials and repurposed sports equipment. The first commercial skateboards were developed by pioneers from California’s surfing community in the early 1960s. Skating has ridden cyclical waves of popularity since then as board technology improved and as skating’s do-it-yourself way of life was embraced by successive generations of youth (and the young at heart) from all walks of life.
As folklorist Gregory Hansen notes in the Encyclopedia of Play, “Skateboarding is a highly creative form of serious play that has had huge influence on contemporary culture.” Individual skaters read the built environment as a series of opportunities for creative expression, always “lurking” to find the next hidden location for a perfect ride. Skaters’ interpretive tricks in and on public spaces can be viewed as an artistic performance of athletic skills, but also as an invitation to play. Within the community, knowledge—whether it be how to get a move just right, deck out your ideal board, or find the newest skating spot—is curated and shared through informal networks, or imitation, as it is in any folk culture. In this context, a great local skate shop (not the one at the mall) is an essential resource and community touchstone.
In 2017, shortly after Salisbury opened its skate park, local skater Bryan Whipple had a vision for a mobile skate shop. He bought a concession trailer he could hook to his jeep, stocked it with gear he knew his community wanted, and went into business. In short order, demand and opportunity grew, and today Lurking Class is a thriving establishment on Main Street with a halfpipe in the window, a developing performance space, and a team of outstanding skaters dedicated to promoting the store and the skating community. As Whipple points out, he built Lurking Class as “a space for literally everyone.”
At the 81st National Folk Festival, Whipple will be joined by a crew of Lurking Class regulars to demonstrate classic tricks and moves as well as skateboarding’s improvisational ethos on a course of obstacles created from found materials. And while this group of skaters will surely impress you with their skill, their performance is also an invitation to drop in to your own sense of serious play.
For more shots and videos of these skaters in action, check out Lurking Class’s Instagram page, @lcskateshop.