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Tanks, baseballs caps, shaggy hair and skinny jeans make up the crowd of 20-somethings outside of Duende. Congregating on the bench, one speaks out, “Hey nerds, the skateboard event is that way.” Tonight is another arts/ music gathering at the Spanish eatery consisting of two bars and a loft with thriving energy, styled cuisine, and Oakland cool.

The musicians unloading their gear, follow the direction of the speaker’s finger, directing towards the entrance to the casual Bodega sector of the restaurant. Upon entry, smooth funk radiates an upmarket, rustic ambiance. A wall of wine makes up the right border with triangular paneled timber floors underneath, and bones hanging from the high warehouse-like ceiling. A hanging scroll with hand-inscribed drinks stands as the menu for the insouciant Bodega.

“21 I’m assuming?” Walking past a speckling of tables with patrons enjoying house drinks (the “Ninth Ward”), Spanish cider, domestic and import beers, house-made sodas, and Spanish wines, we’re stamped and head upstairs to the art-infested eaves of the Hi 5 Skateboarding Film Festival.

Photos are plastered on the walls and dangle from binder clips tied to wall pipes. Framed black and whites of ollies, kickflips, flip tricks, and trick tips make up the array along with skate culture and signature landscapes of stairs, fence-hopping, curbs, and street scenes. The crowd upstairs of skaters and musicians has overrun the usual spread of hipsters and tech types. Many walk with boards in hand or under foot, the grip coinciding with the chipped black wooden floor.

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Tunes consisting of a keyboard, guitar and a drum kit issue 90s pop-culture hits as classy Christmas tunes in a swanky 5-star cult runner. The band transitions from Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” to “Super Mario” to Jimi Hendrix “Crosstown Traffic,” and the crowd couldn’t be happier. As an unground café jam, the humorously tasteful compositions pair perfectly with the gathered skater society.  A few rows of wooden chairs flank the wall encasing the DJ, and all around are t-shirts, vans shoes, boards, drinks, scruff, and smiles.

As the first film begins, the group crowds in, piling on top of each other to view projections of the world they know and love. Vintage-feel cityscapes erode into 5 skaters drifting through traffic at sunset. Scenes cut to alligators, kangaroos, and then close ups of carving concrete and surfing pavement with placid hip-hop harmonies in John Lindsay’s “The Sleeping Horse.” “Support underground skateboarding,” the screen says. Soaring skyscraper rooftops, they glide and topple on the edge of their concrete jungles. An animated skater falls, falls, falls and then lands on his feet back on the board and sails the streets, jumping subway platforms, and demolishing tunnels in Colin Reed’s “Mandible Claw.”

At the midway music intermission, Yellow Belly takes the stage followed by New Sun Company, alongside the screen and attendees are engulfed in another round of freedom, liberation, and exhilaration in the kaleidoscopic meanderings of the underground skateboarding culture.

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