Dark Side Skates Was Not Your Average Skate Shop

“What’s a blumpkin?”

“It’s when a guy takes a shit and a girl gives him a blowjob at the same time.”

“That is so disgusting.”

“Yeah, well…do you wanna do it or what?”

Believe it or not, this is not a piece of bad dialogue from a bathroom themed porno. But instead is an actual conversation between two people killing time inside of a skate shop. For those wondering, the disgusting deed was not fulfilled, despite all the encouragement from the teenage boys in the shop. However, one person did manage to receive a blowjob in the shop’s dingy bathroom from a woman nicknamed Stinky Feet, albeit with no pooping involved. That is either a letdown or a cause for a sigh of relief, depending on how perverted you are.

Whether you are an acne-plagued teenager, a confused twenty-something, or an adult with mortgage payments, odds are that you currently have or used to have somewhere that provided comfort, entertainment, and distraction from the miseries of life.  A “hangout spot,” a “go-to spot,” a “meet up spot,” or whatever the hell you choose to call it. This sanctuary can be a bar where everyone knows your name, a coffee shop with an always vacant orange couch, or a friend’s house with an unlimited supply of food. These sanctuaries teach people about the intricacies of life, helping mold its inhabitants into their future selves.

The majority of my teens were spent inside of the aforementioned skate shop Dark Side Skates. This personal sanctuary, originating its name from Star Wars, is where a large amount (if not all) of my knowledge about life and entertainment as a teen came from.DarkSideAd2

Dark Side Skates was located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and served the skateboard community from 2002-2009. For some, the skate shop was only a place to buy skateboard product, but for a majority of others, it was a second home where everything a skateboarder needed or wanted was available.

The owner, Shawn Ryan, provided skateboarders a place to skate, watch skate videos, read skate magazines (only after you bought them), and a place to waste the day away talking about skateboarding, girls, movies, or anything and everything that popped into one’s mind.

ShawnRyan

Shawn Ryan: Dark Side Owner

Picture the film High Fidelity but substitute the subculture of vinyl records with skateboarding. Both subcultures involve making countless “top five lists” and conversations dissecting what is cool and lame about the culture’s current state of affairs, all the while being skeptical, and at times completely dismissive, to any outsider not sharing the same beliefs. And much like record stores or any other store catering to a subculture, Dark Side had its fair share of characters.

On any given day the shop would be occupied by the regulars, customers, and random people who did not even skate but enjoyed the day-to-day shenanigans. The regulars were typically given a nickname highlighting their race or some sort of physical feature. For example, I was nicknamed Ming Ling for being Asian (my first nickname was Toan, as in Toan Nguyen), two Native American twins were referred to as Pocahontas and Sacajawea, a teenager with a stutter was called Skippy T, one skater was named No Teef after he accidentally knocked out his teeth with a slingshot and hammer, another was called Freak Show for being tall, gangly, and exceptionally awkward, and a kid with diabetes was nicknamed Gumdrop. Keep in mind this was during the first decade of the 2000’s, a time when political correctness was not dictating everyone’s comments or actions. For the most part, everybody craved a nickname, understanding that a nickname, even if harsh, meant that you were “one of the boys.”

Shawn and a few of the shop’s older team riders were fond of punching (only arms and legs), wrestling, and giving wedgies to kids when they would say or do something idiotic. On some occasions people received wedgies so intense, their underwear would rip, leaving them underwear-less for the rest of the day. Some saw this as a form of abuse and chose to take their business elsewhere, while others enjoyed the roughhousing and relished in the fact that it would make them tougher in the long run. Pocahontas typically received the most punches for his constant jackassery. He ultimately grew into one of the biggest and toughest kids. Most of the kids at the shop understood their best interests were only being looked out for them. The punches and horseplay were an act of kindness and guidance, attempting to steer kids away from kook-ville, and not just some form of senseless violence.

A lot of the parents were well aware of the punches and dead legs given to their beloved child. I think most parents enjoyed the brotherly love their child experienced. For parents Dark Side was a form of free daycare that kept their children out of trouble and taught them how not to be a dick to people.

Inside of the “daycare” skateboarders entertained themselves in a variety of ways. Rain was avoided by playing countless games of carpet S.K.A.T.E. Birthdays were celebrated and skate decks were used as paddles to help with the birthday spankings. Pain was inflicted courtesy of the shop cat Zero and his thirst for violence. Teenagers tasted gambling for the first time, rolling dice and praying for sevens and elevens. Eyebrows were shaved and pants were purposefully pissed in to help raise money for a trip to San Diego’s ASR (the shaved eyebrows raised $7.75 and the soiling one’s self raised $10). Skaters got to meet and see their favorite pros from companies such as Black Label, Innes, 1031 (before Raybourn’s stardom!), City Skateboards, and Toy Machine.

And of course there was a lot of different product to buy and companies to support. At first, the shop did not have much to offer, but that quickly changed over the years. The shop’s shoe wall managed to grow from carrying only Vision Street Wear to over fifteen different shoe companies. Dark Side also (probably) managed to keep companies, like Duffs, from going out of business sooner than they did, thanks to shop riders being rep flow (seriously, at one point in time it seemed every skateboarder in Oklahoma rocked Duffs with their bell-bottomed girl pants). This trend continued throughout the shop’s existence. No matter the company, anything from Santa Fe, ATM, Listen, Krew, Innes, and Dekline, the locals supported whatever the shop riders were being flowed. The quality of the product was not important, as long as buying it supported a friend.

Loyalty for the shop and its riders was something shared by all who spent any amount of time at the shop. Almost every skateboarder had some design of “Dark Side” stenciled onto their griptape. And for those that did not skate, they had a healthy choice of shirts to choose from to show their support. One shirt professed a love for beaver, one told others to “Skate the 918,” another was banned by schools for declaring “Death Before Emo,” and another stated “Friends don’t let friends push mongo,” causing school principals to search for any hidden meanings behind the phrase “push mongo.”

The entertainment of what went on inside the shop was only half of what made it so great. Located behind the shop was an alleyway with smooth ground, a waxed ledge, a fun three stair, and a variety of flatbars, boxes, and home-made kickers laid out by the shop. The shop’s rails, boxes, and ramps could be skated all day while the shop was open. Sometimes lights were set up allowing people to skate after-hours. One time a couple of hunters in a raised truck pulled up to the alleyway with a headless deer in their truck bed. The hunters asked if anybody wanted to skate the deer and before anyone could alert PETA about what was about to happen, people were kickflipping over the headless corpse. The grisly session ended abruptly once a kid attempted to 50-50 the carcass.

A large chunk of peoples’ teenage years was consumed in this alleyway. Teenagers spent hours there skating and learning new tricks, trying to convince the few girls at the shop to flash them (and sometimes succeeding), and chain-smoking cigarettes as if nicotine was as vital as oxygen. A few people even treated the alleyway like a barber shop, shaving their heads outside the back doors of the skate shop.

Surprisingly during the shop’s seven-year run, there were only a few major injuries, both inside and outside of the shop. In the alleyway, only two kids managed to get seriously hurt by breaking their wrists. One of the kids was me on two different occasions: first breaking both wrists at the same time and then my right wrist, again, two months later. The only injury to occur inside of the shop came at the expense of the owner Shawn. During a liquor-fueled night with shop team riders and the Vox sales rep, Shawn managed to drunkenly throw himself through the display window of the shop, completely shattering it and cutting open his elbow in the process.

Along with the countless memories, Dark Side gave the Oklahoma skate community a skater-owned and operated skate shop whose main goal was to help grow and support the Oklahoma skate scene. The shop hosted contests, both skateboarding and art-related, BBQ’s, team signings and demos, and other events like a week-long scavenger hunt based off of Thrasher’s King of the Road contest. Challenges on the scavenger hunt included things like licking a snot and booger covered shoe, farting in a crowded elevator and getting a photo in the shop’s beaver suit with a Hooters girl.

Unfortunately most stores dealing in the business of subcultures tend to eventually hit a decline in business. Towards the end of its successful run, Dark Side experienced a myriad of changes, which did not coincide well with the financial crisis of 2008. Team riders were kicked off, skateboarding began to branch out to unhealthy waters like longboarding (which the shop refused to carry), the second location in Austin, Texas was failing, and the once regulars of the shop became more interested in drugs and partying and no longer cared for skateboarding. Shawn eventually had no choice but to shut down Dark Side and work full time as a tattoo artist.

Dark Side’s old location is now occupied by a company called Budget Truck Rental. Adults now fill out paperwork to rent moving trucks where teenagers used to receive wedgies and discuss which pro skater has the best 360 flip.DarkSideNewFront

From almost blumpkins in the bathroom to learning new tricks in the alleyway, nobody left Dark Side without a memorable moment.

Special thanks to those that submitted photos for me to use.