Surf training, Great Whites and hipsters in Berlin
This is what surfing has come down to. It’s so damn popular that it’s cool to say you do indoor surf training in the middle of a city of a country without any proper waves. “But we also go to lakes with our surfboards and practice paddling and duck diving”. Well, I guess it’s alright then to brag that you’re a surfer at parties.
I find myself at the 30th birthday party of one of my best mates. We met on a train in Newcastle, Australia where we lived at the time. He thought I was a strange Dutch guy but nice. I thought he was way to cool for us to become friends. We didn’t admit it at the time of course and only shared these thoughts years later. At the time though, we were in love with surfing and both beginners so there was a connection. He already had some experience from his time in South Africa. I started a few weeks earlier at Nobby’s. An awesome beach for beginners and not too crowded. Six month later we discovered there’s a Great White breeding ground just a couple of miles up the coast. But hey, no worries mate! And apart from a few fin sightings, a couple of birds feeding at the surface, and some bait fish jumping around most of the times there wasn’t anything to worry about. Well, there was this one time everybody got out when it was pumping because a 15 footer decided to join the line-up. Everybody apart from one tough local with long white hair and a bad knee. He maintained the ‘no worries’ philosophy.
Anyway a couple of road trips in Australia, an unforgettable cava drinking experience in Fiji, and numerous European surf trips later we find ourselves as good friends at his party in the middle of nowhere just an hour North of Berlin.
It’s an amazing place run by a woman who was fed up with city life and moved here last year. A big barn with a hay attic, a field with chickens and a rooster I call Snooze. That’s because when he crows in the morning I can tell my girlfriend to hit snooze. I think that’s hilarious. The owner is a bit of a hippy and has plans to run Ayahuasca ceremonies and have artists live on the hay attic. For now her garden is full with a mix of different friend groups Phil collected over the years. Some friends from University, others from rock festivals, people he met travelling, and also people from his most recent life in Berlin.
As the day slips into the evening everybody gets to know each other. One small group remains a bit separated and mostly seems to enjoy each other’s company and the good weather. At a nearby lake we try to interact with them. The easiest way is to ask where they know the party boy from. “Surf training”, is the reply. Good, we’ve got something in common so it should be easy to converse. I’m also quite curious what surf training embodies. What follows though, is an awkward one way five minute conversation.
We ask questions and we get short non interesting answers. After a few minutes I zone out and start getting annoyed by their behaviour. I know Berlin is hip. Berlin is very very hip as a matter of fact. But just because you do surf training doesn’t mean you’re a surfer. I don’t know why I get these thoughts because I like to be this all loving person with respect for everyone. Somehow though, these people get on my nerves. Of course it’s awesome they do surf training and if I was so far away from the sea, I would probably do the same. I think I get annoyed by the way they seem to brag about it. As if they are proper surfers. That’s probably because of the reaction they’re used to getting from other hip people in Berlin when they say they surf. But that’s not the reaction they’re getting from me. Sure, it’s really good that you work out, but balancing on an indo board in a hall where normally kids have their gym classes and paddling on a wave-less lake doesn’t make you a surfer. I don’t know what exactly does make you a surfer, but it surely isn’t that!
A way of life
Thinking about it now, maybe it’s just because I wanted them to ask me about my surfing so I could brag to them and the hip people would like me too…..no, that’s not it. Still, I find myself on Facebook looking for evidence they’re not real surfers, but just some people who do surf training, brag about it, and manage to stand up on a board a couple of times a year and post their best photos on social media. I find some evidence to support that theory.
I think at the end of the day my real annoyance is that surfing has become such a big thing, that we’re losing the essence of it. Or at least what I believe the essence of surfing should be. A way to be one with nature, a way to relax, and a way to find yourself. It’s much more than just the act of riding a wave itself. It’s about taking the time to appreciate what’s around you, and to care about it as well. You pick up rubbish as you walk back from a session. In the water you allow others to have fun. Spread the love! Surfing is a state of being, or simply a way of life, instead of something that you do and brag about at parties.
I hope I haven’t hurt your feeling by saying this, or anyone else’s for that matter. I love you man and I know you get it. You’ve got that surf spirit. I’ve seen it over and over. Stay stoked and I can’t wait for our next adventure. You are, and forever will be, the ultimate spy. Spread the love!
Alternative surf opportunities in Germany