Back to Cali was nice from the stand point for a newbie. I’ve never been to this event nor the rink. The host rink was at Fountain Valley right outside of Long Beach, CA. Fountain Valley floor was surprisingly nice considering that the wood floor is painted blue. The rink was very well maintained and clean.
Thursday night was packed – it was nice to see others from all over, especially the Midwest (they really came out to support). The greeting at the door was blah and the overall direction upon entering the rink was also blah (once I paid no one said anything to me, I feel that they recognized only the people that they knew personally, which is kinda discouraging to a newbie like me…). You really never notice the important roll of door greeting until it’s missing. There was a man selling tickets but, he looked scary, Lol. We’ll just call him “Hustle Man.” Every jam has to have a Hustle Man. Any way I got my tickets the next day from DJ “Big Bert.” Bert was very visible and friendly! The music was on point. The DJs catered to ALL – from East to West. Again, it was on point! I heard no complaints of the music; the vibe was right!
What’s BTC without the “All White Party?” Very well put together I must say. Everyone was freshly dressed in their white hook ups! The venue was at the Marina which had two stories, with two DJs. “Ballin’!” The crowd danced all night. It was Great! Truly a staple of this event.
Saturday was the picnic… although I didn’t make it I heard nothing but good things about it. Can’t go wrong with a cocktail of great weather, free food, and music to vibe to.
Forward to Saturday Night – even though the rink was completely PACKED(!!!) – the sweat was visible and yet the roll was still very enjoyable! No styles were called… No states were called… just Cali rolling and some serious circle work. I was in ear shot of someone from out-of-town expressing how they truly enjoyed the way Cali rolled!! They were pleased that they did not have to do their signature “bark” to get people out of there way! Other honorable mentions includes slow walkers, Gsliders and striders!
There was a fight in the rink barely worth mentioning… a rarity. But, fortunately I brought my fresh mint tea to sip, so that was none of my business, LOL.
The focus was that the music “Rocked” the rink and everyone appeared to be having a Wonderful time. All Smiles!!
Although, the sideline vibe was a bit different and lacked the hospitality or welcome-ness that I was used to from other skate parties. But hey! This is Cali where the Gangstas Roll!!!
Leaving the rink Saturday Night myself and most other skaters had a difficult question to answer, “Where to Skate on Sunday!?” Apparently there’s a popular local session in Chino and competing by default with the Back 2 Cali session. Many people were trying to decide where to go skate? Some people decided that they were going to attend both rinks (the ambitious ones). Some people decided to attend one rink over the other for many reasons; clearly there was a divided. Hopefully, by next year the out-of-towners do not have to decide on which rink to roll at because it really made a difference. Not Good.
So in all here are my Pros:
The Music was Great
White Party was Hype!
The Weather was perfect
And, of course, it’s CALI!!!
Hospitality could be improved
The Split Rinks on Sunday
There was not an itinerary for suggestions on sightseeing places for people that like to venture…
The Hotel charged $17 a night for parking (Valet $20) Not a BTC issue. But sheez.
Overall this newbies thought is… I’ve came and I experienced Back to Cali! “I’m Going Going Back Back to CALI!!!”
I arrived at the Houston hobby at 7:30 pm local time and went directly to the host which is about 5 minutes from the airport. The hotel provided a shuttle which I appreciated, as I did not rent a car on this trip. After checking in I went over to the Meet and Greet (which I think need a new name, but that’s a convo for a different time). It was at a bar next door. Honestly, I didn’t even go inside – I got there so late it was pretty much at capacity. Skaters spilled over in to the parking lot just chopping it up. The weather was great, no complaints there. Definitely wasn’t missing the snow storm back home. Left the Meet and Greet and “broke bread” with the skate fam. before a quick nap – had to get my mind and body “rink ready.”
The Friday night set at Fun City Rink, 12am – 5am with DJ Joe Bowen didn’t disappoint. I felt like he did a great job playing to the crowd and touching on the different styles. He even played some new and old school local flavors. He could have played that “H-Town-knocking the boots” twice and no one could have been mad at that. It was Neon NIGHT, so the lights were low all night and the skaters shined bright under the black light.
The rink was small with deep corners. The wood felt great, only one bump patch off second turn, no biggie. Seating around the rink was plentiful – decor was on point. The large skaters’ mural on the long wall stretch was a nice touch to the rink.
I skated the entire night – no real reason to get off the floor, until the music stopped. Good size crowd for a Friday night. 15-20 min ride to the hotel for some R and R.
Day two, Saturday. I’m up and out early to set up a vending table at the indoor BBQ/concert. The venue was switched, due to the predicted rain storms which, came true (good call). I didn’t see any of the concert since I was on vending duty outside under the tents. It would have be nice to have the backup of the IMSN crew to relief me of duty to check it out… apparently “extreme yoga class” and “full body waxing” was more important. Again, a convo for another time.
The bull riding was cliché for Texas but it fit in well and was entertaining.
I only had the fish fry, but the food was plentiful even though it was served late (kind of a stickler for timing especially when hungry). The Roundup committee was VERY hospitable. I had a small headache and one of the team members offer to walk across the street to a gas station to get me Advil. I tell you folks it’s the small things. I wish I knew her name. I eventually packed up and met up some skate fam. to break bread at the Texas famous Pappadeux (sp). The food was terrific! Good convo. So worth it. Stopped at DQ for some dessert and back to the hotel to chill before skating.
Saturday night 12-5a with DJ Big Bob and DJ Joe Bowen. I didn’t skate the night away because I left 1 skate in the hotel. Smh. I cried a little inside at the thought of considering wearing rentals, but someone was able to pick-up my other skate. #lifesaver #therealmvp. The crowd was thick but bearable. There was no roll-call or style-call which actually worked really well. More events should consider that in my opinion. Not all, just some. The roll call has its place.
All-in-all Houston is a good look for the skate community. Props to the producers of the event. If I could’ve done it differently I would have stayed longer to check out more local flavor. I hate 2 day trips. I was there less than 48 hrs. …but that’s the skate life.