10 Essentials for Hosting a Slide Jam
There comes a time in every incline oriented skateboarder’s career where the opportunity will present itself to attend a slide jam.
The gathering of skaters from near and far, the spills, the shred, the stoke, all of it ultimately amounting to an entire afternoon of awesome. If done right, a slide jam can very easily become a lasting memorable experience for you and your friends. Done really right, it'll be something that you may want to plan to attend the next time around.
Slide jams, and events like them, play a very pivotal role in our board-borne community. They not only create a stage by which individuals can display their skill in front of sponsors and their peers, but also brings all of the odds and ends of the community as a whole together.
Slide jams can be as small as a handful of adrenaline hungry hometown heroes, or as large as a few hundred swarthy shredders. Either way it’s important to know that slide jams don’t necessarily have to be big or small, they just have to be fun for all, and all for fun.
The spills, the shred, the stoke.
Now, after attending a few jams you may come to a point where you’ll feel the need to throw a jam of your own. To achieve this, we have worked hard to lay down a few simple guidelines to help you streamline the process, while also maximizing the potential for both overall jam attendance and fun.
Now, while you may notice that many of these points may appear to be pretty straight-forward, but also be sure to take into consideration that not all of them may apply to you and your situation. It’s important to pay close attention to your audience and the elements of the environment in which you plan to throw your event, as these will ultimately determine a lot about the overall outcome of the event. Now, to begin.
1. Where The Party Be At? Location, Location, Location:
Arguably the most important element in your quest to host a successful slide jam, picking a suitable slide hill to host your jam at IS going to be a huge deciding factor as to how the whole soirée plays itself out. Picture it to be like the stage upon which you are to conduct your glorious symphony of shred. It needs to have character, flavor, pizazz! Your hill needs to spark that fire, potentially make you sweat, anxious.
A textbook slide jam hill should be steep and wide, have agreeable pavement, potentially some kinks or turns to it to add flavor, and space to place features such as banks, kickers, grind boxes, what have you.
A proper slide hill allows for proper display of steez.
Ideally, a slide jam hill should also be off the beaten path and hidden away from the prying eyes of the public. The reason for this illuminati’esque secrecy being that, some people are just out there looking for a party to pee on, as host it's your job to minimize the chance of that happening by paying close attention to where specifically you decide to host your event.
Chances are you’re planning to do this as DIY as possible and haven’t exactly ran this up the authoritative chain within your local community. Alas, it is important to be upfront and let the people ultimately effected by this happening know specifically what it’s all about. In most cases you’ll find that people are generally okay with it as long as you let them know about it before hand.
However, if you’re looking to run an “outlaw” event (unsanctioned), it will be imperative to find an out-of-the-way location with a minimum bust factor, making your search for a suitable hill all the more difficult. Finding rockin' slide jam hill is always the most difficult step to the process, but also the most important one, just be sure to choose wisely.
2. You Gotta Pay The Cost To Be The Boss:
Assuming you have found a suitable hill and alerted the residents to your pending jamboree, you have everything so far so good.
It’s important to take into consideration that you may end up having to make some minor, but substantial initial investments out of pocket to make things run more smoothly, the proverbial greasing of the wheels. Having large quantities of drinkable water on hand, or some kind of liquid refreshment, be it paid for, or provided by a beverage sponsor, is going to be key.
Adam Colton and Ethan Cochard of Loaded do heavy lifting.
Also, depending on the size of your jam, a portable restroom is going to be something to consider. Nothing sheds a bad light on a skate jam like the neighbors catching a squad of ratty skate groms pissing in their rose bushes. However, if your jam hill is already located in a rural enough location, portable restrooms may not even be a factor.
The overarching idea is simply to keep in mind that if you’re going to host an event of any magnitude, setting aside a little cash for necessities is going to be a feather in your cap at any point during the process.
3. “Friends, How Many Of Us Have Them?”:
Do you have friends? Parents? Were you even born, or did you just materialize into existence from the ether of the universe?
Whatever your means of materialization, it’s essentially important that you enlist the help of volunteers, family, friends, to help you manage your jam. Because let’s be real, unless you’re a one man army like John Rambo (which I’m willing to bet you are most definitely not) you are going to need some support to keep things running smoothly.
An army of event staff, winning.
Albeit, I’m sure even the mighty Rambo would have a considerable amount of difficulty herding some 150+ twelve to fifteen year olds on skateboards. Hence, all the more reason to conscript the genuine few to your cause. Consider setting aside a bit of sponsor swag for them, or pay them, or chide them with promises of gifts, unrequited love, it’s your call.
Just make sure that when jam time comes, you’re not about to get into a one man stand-off with a tide of sharp witted pubescents, because you will lose.
4. Po’po’ Problems, Encounters With The Long Arm Of The Law:
Let me tell you from experience, there is no worse sight than a police cruiser (already adapted from a generic ugly car no one really wanted in the first place) marring up your beautiful slide jam hill with its flashing lights and loud speakers.
Somewhere along the line your jam hill got confused with this fine officer of the law’s parking space back at the station, and now you’re the poor bastard that’s going to have to convince his mirror-tint-lensed Oakey’s wearing visage otherwise.
To avoid the red tape, you can do this a number of ways; the easiest and most basic way is to find a hill that doesn’t obstruct anything or anyone and is out of the way enough that no one would even notice you throwing a jam there. The second is to minimize your chances of there even being law enforcement called in the first place by being straightforward, upfront, and compromising with the people that the jam will potentially effect.
The third and most involved, yet essentially fool proof method is to go and pull the proper permits with the city. This will absolve you from any wrong doing, and will ultimately prevent your event from being clotheslined by the long arm of the law.
5. Stem The Bleeding, Paramedics:
Depending on how involved your jam gets, you may at some point want to consider hiring a pair of paramedics to be on call. Even if you manage to pull off your event without there being any serious battle damage, broken limbs, etc, there will undoubtedly be people with varying degrees of road rash floating around, and it’s always nice to be able to be patched up on a moments notice. If your jam starts to draw a crowd, consider keeping a meat wagon around.
The meat wagon approaches.
6. Better Call Saul, Legalities Lowdown:
It pretty much goes without saying in this sport, but when you’re surfing a plank of wood with wheels bolted to it down a hill at speeds in excess of 50+ miles per hour, you also need to assume responsibilities for your own actions. Skateboarding is inherently dangerous, and yes, you could die. But you could also die attempting to make toast in a toaster while taking a bath, or by falling out of a hot air balloon, or jumping from a moving train.
It is so then as the extensively quoted Uncle Ben Parker from Spider Man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”, so too should you be with your skateboarding.
Now, with that being said, if you’re planning on hosting a sanctioned event, you’re going to want to have everyone sign a legal binding waiver, which ultimately protects you in the event anyone wants to make a mishap at your event look like an episode of Judge Judy in the courtroom.
You can also consider purchasing an insurance policy, just in case someone comes after you in the court of law for damages, etc.
However, if you decide to host an outlaw event (i.e. unsanctioned) be upfront about it being a “skate at your own risk” situation, and then be prepared to call Saul if someone decides to take their frustrations to the next level.
7. Play My Tape, Hype Game Struggles:
After you have all your bases covered, you’re going to need to let people know about your event. It goes without saying that roughly 80% of our community functions entirely via the means of social media, specifically Facebook.
So with that idea in mind, the means of advertising your event within the social sphere can happen a number of different ways. We’re going to suggest a few, but I’m sure you’ll be clever enough to come up with a few methods of your own.
Some things to keep in mind; first and foremost, setting up an event page via Facebook gives your event a home base (easily linked URL) and allows people a place to congregate and get excited about you pending jam.
Beyond setting up an event page and including some tastefully executed cover art, acquiring event sponsors is key! Having these industry mammoths backing your event, then seeding your jam via their own media outlets is one surefire method of attracting people beyond your friends list to your event.
Another way is by creating some kind of promotional material for your jam. Videos previewing the hill are always helpful and can give your guests a bit of sneak peak as to what they’re getting themselves into. Additionally, attracting professional riders to your event will be yet another feather in your cap. Get a few high profile skaters to attend, and that alone should boost those attendance numbers. Have the pros share your event, and that’ll work two fold.
Let there be no doubt, the hype game struggle is real. While you may have jumped through hoops to get this far, drop the ball on proper promotion, and you’ll have the same fifteen or so people you always skate with, swattin’ flies on your lonely jam hill. Take the time to get the word out there about your event, and you will most certainly get out of it what you put into it.
8. Hustle & Flow, Acquiring Event Sponsors, Dispensing Swag:
As stated in the topic above, having sponsors back your event by contributing to the prize purse is a good way to not only get the word out about your event, but also attract a crowd of product hungry grommets willing to risk life and limb for a set of wheels.
The core skaters will be saying at this point, “The focus shouldn’t be on product”, and in the bigger scheme of things, they’re right, it shouldn’t. But if you want to get these kids to skate their eyeballs out on your hill, you’ll need to bait them, and having event sponsors contribute gear should take care of just that.
9. Handlin’ That Paper, Money Management:
If you’re on top of your game and man enough to handle real life situations, you may be skilled enough to string it so that the jam pays for itself.
To do this, you’ll need to request an entry fee, and then with that money you can purchase essential items for the jam, yet also provide a CASH prize purse (which will undoubtedly attract the pros, who are all jaded and primarily concerned with trying to merge making enough money to travel the world with their now full-blown addiction to skateboarding). I mean, like, I’m not talking about myself or anything… I’m just saying, I know a guy.
Anyway, having some basic accounting and money management skills can really help you take your jam from being a local neighborhood shred session, to a major large scale event in a surprisingly short amount of time. The bottom line? Money makes the world go round.
10. Puttin’em Up, Housing The Homies:
You have secured yourself the hill, informed the neighbors, got the event sanctioned, acquired the entry fees, hired the paramedics, purchased cases of water, rented the portable toilets, acquired the event sponsors, printed out waiver forms, and gotten attendance and support pledged from the pros, now all you need is to find a place for everyone to stay.
Hosting skaters at your house is plausible, but do you really want an armada of people at your parents' house? Chances are you’d rather that your parents not come into contact with a lot of these folks. To avoid a potential future parental sit-down to discuss your current chosen life path and goals, have your motley bunch of gnarbucklers take refuge at the local motel.
Contact the motel ahead of time and inquire as to whether they’d be willing to discount your attendee’s if they do indeed decide to stay there. This helps both you and them, and then also generates revenue for the community, which works for everyone and makes you look really G (as in good) for the city council, which initially approved your event to begin with.
The name of the game with hosting big slide jams is to work it out so that everyone wins in the end. Line it all up correctly, and you don’t just make yourself look good, you make the skating community as a whole look good, and in this day and age that goes a long way.
The important thing is to always remember that the overall goal of any slide jam should ultimately be about having a good time. Let there be no doubt that throwing a slide jam requires some good clean logistical figuring, but it should always always always be a labor of love.
Pay close attention to the points listed for you above, and take into account that every situation is different, but if you take extra care to cover these few major topics we’ve put together for you, you should fair right as rain. Good luck, and happy jammin’.