I have been asked to say a couple words about our little baby, that ‘group of misfits/degenerates/skate enthusiasts/friends’, but I just quite can’t, honestly. Because there’s so many things factoring in from so many different individuals that it would be unjust in the end and not quite right. Instead, I will try and paint a picture that will attempt to make you understand what AWHOU! means to me as an individual. How there was a feeling of AWHOU! before there even was AWHOU!.
Almost 10 years ago I came to Berlin. I had no idea what this city was about. Heck, I didn’t even know what I was about. I knew a whole lot of nothing about everything. I had trouble fitting in and even more trouble figuring out what to do with myself. But without making everyone feel pity for poor little Jeff, things naturally get better. And skating has a way of bringing people together, or more like a way of ignoring boundaries that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
We became friends in the truest sense of the word.
When I started skating in this city, there was nobody. It took me half a year to find somebody that would skate with me and show me what I can do on the thing that I just kept standing on. Half a year to attempt my first cross step and possibly another half year to successfully do a cross step that wasn’t terrible to look at. What took me more than half a year, though, since coming to Berlin, was to find a person I shared an interest with. The first person that doesn’t make you feel not lonely anymore will always have a special place in your heart. To me, that person was Philipp Mitbach. Weird guy. Short, dirty, terribly handsome with a nasty sense of balance that wow’d me from day one. We basically skated every single day together. We would meet at noon on the abandoned airfield – Tempelhof – and we would leave at dusk. We shared food, drinks, cigarettes, stories and advice. We became friends in the truest sense of the word. He never asked about my past, what my education was or what I had done to become the person that I am now. It just wasn’t important for the kind of friendship we have been having, I guess. And I loved it. Of course, none of this means that these kinds of topics were not worth discussing. They just didn’t matter enough to bring any added form of validation to what we had already known about us as friends. What mattered was what had brought us together in the first place; a wanton for fitting in, being accepted for what we are and enjoying life our way.
Because of this new perspective this friendship taught me, I met a ton of new people. Some just passed through and with some of them I created even stronger bonds that last to this day. To me, that is the most precious thing about it. Because of skateboarding and especially AWHOU! I have been granted the possibility of not only meeting people from Berlin, but all over the planet. I had people crashing on my couch from Estonia, shared meals with some Dutchies, learned culture from Koreans and a Spaniard became the best man at my wedding. Of course with my wife from Russia, that I had met in the UK. Because who cares about boundaries. What’s more important than being passionate about the same things in life..
What matters in the end is to have a connection.
Our small, but growing group is full of rejects and class clowns and outlaws and free spirited hippies and educated, brilliant minds. And they all coexist. They share their beers and funky cigarettes, they laugh together and text each other to meet up for a skate. At the end of the day it’s not the clothes we wear. Nor where we come from nor what we have been through. What matters in the end is to have a connection. People to share and love with. Friends you can support and friends that support you. When I came to this city 10 years ago, that’s all I never knew I needed. And all I had to do to find it was pick up a skateboard. Thank you, skateboarding. Thank you, AWHOU!
Written by: Jeff Ellis