For a while now we`ve been seeing changes happening in the worlds of female surfers. Not content with the hypersexualisation** that currently permeates the pro surfer and surf media worlds (I, for one, am not content with current marketing and “role models”), everyday girl surfers are tapping into connections and collaborations with other like-minded chicks and finding their own sources of surf inspiration. Which is how I came to virtually meet Annie, a young lady living in one of the biggest of the Big Smokes: NYC. Showcasing, promoting, and building a community of New York surfers through local events and environmental initiatives is the mission behind her blog, NYC Urchin.
Hey Annie, how is NYC today?? NYC is chill and non-stop at the same time! I moved into NY for a month, which turned into three, and now a year later I don`t foresee leaving any time soon! Once you find your niche the city becomes home. NY is constantly moving and growing and, it turns out, is spreading toward the ocean. With the ease of public transportation, more and more Manhattanites are gravitating toward the sea. It`s a neat natural process to see….to sea.
Tell us about your mission with NYC Urchin…The main NYC Urchin mission is to show that it`s possible to balance the city with the sea. Manhattan is a mecca, a metropolis, a melting pot, a creative epicentre, but we forget that it`s an island too! We`re surrounded by water that is unsafe to swim in because of our industry. So, my intention is to shape the local perception of water and how we respect it, whether that`s the water in your sink, the Hudson River, the local pool in Brooklyn or the ocean. At the same time, the surf community is growing so quickly in NY and surfing is becoming more and more central in my life, so I`ve enjoyed sharing local surf-related companies and positive initiatives.
So as you become increasingly involved in the local surf community, what have been the highlights so far? It`s a small community that everyone is so psyched to be a part of so it`s like once you`re in, you`re family. I`ve definitely been getting involved in as many positive events as I can, most recently with Boarding for Breast Cancer, Surfrider, and Waves for Water. Last week some friends helped me out with a used bike and shoe drive in Brooklyn. The best project yet though was in February when NYC Urchin co-hosted A Rising Tide, getting together a handful of surf non-profits in one room to share their missions and open up the opportunity for collaboration. There are some things in the works…..
Any events we need to know about for this northern summer? hmmmm there`s mostly just local surf events going on. Nothing big like the Quiksilver Pro last year! Pilgrim Surf and Supply has lots of casual events with good people and some PBR. Rockaway Beach Surf Club is a graffiti and driftwood laden Secret Garden-type spot under the traintracks in Rockaway. It just opened but I think there are going to be some killer events coming up there. I`ll keep you posted 🙂
I love the oxymoron of city and sea – especially in New York City! Yet many people manage to co-exist within both worlds. How do you bring the two together in your life? Living in the city it definitely requires an extra effort to get out to the beach but when you do it`s that much more special I think. During the summer (I`m not a winter surfer yet) I try to get in two early mornings before work and then on the weekends I usually go out to Long Island. But it`s tough! For instance, this morning I woke up at 4am to go hop on the subway and head for the beach, but looking at the mediocre surf report, it`s hard to tell if its worth the 2.5 hour round trip. I opted to stay in and do some work instead (but am already regretting the decision!). When I can`t get to the beach, NYC Urchin kinda fills in the gaps with getting to meet salt-minded people and projects that are in NY.
I heard, on occasion, you get good waves up in that neck of the woods. Where is your favourite surf spot? I head out to Rockaway, Queens, mostly. A lot of NYers go to Long Beach, too, also accessible by train, but I prefer the scene at Rockaway…it`s a little grittier. There can be lots of trash on the beach, and at sunrise and sunset it can feel a little unsafe, but there`s something so cool about quietly sitting on your board and looking back toward the city. Sometimes I`ll go out before work even when there aren`t waves, just to jump in and walk around and find things in the sand.
And chicks on waves? None of my close friends surf so I was usually the only girl, sorta cool, sorta intimidating but now this summer I`m definitely seeing a lot more girls out! Maybe it`s the cute surf gear available, maybe it`s the general empowerment of women, but there is definitely a heightened interest. And now I have a female gang to roll with on the early morning trips to the beach!
What`s your take on female surfwear? I`m loving the Cynthia Rowley wetsuits, everything from Tallow, the Seea, and the Summer Bummer wetsuits with the pouch in the back are rad! My friend started a swim line, Geijo – not quite surf-friendly but ideal for sunbathing afterwards.
You have family in New Zealand…what`s the biggest contrast between your NYC and my two laidback islands?? I`d say the greenery. NZ has a pristine natural beauty that is hard to find elsewhere. I have family in Otaki which, coming from NY, is like entering into Jurassic Park! Also, the people just seem more open and friendly. In passing, New Yorkers seem cold and unapproachable but once you break the shell you find that humans are humans no matter where they live.
If we came to visit, where would you take us for the best cocktails? And best American hotdogs?? And shopping??? I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so I love exploring the area with newcomers – lots of adventures to find here. For cocktails, we`d start off with Surf Bar, lined with aged surf photos, boards on the ceilings and sand on the floor, mixes up a killer coconut mojito (author interjection – YUM)! I also like to have cocktails on the East River Ferry which hops between Brooklyn and Manhattan for a nice cruise and view of the city. There`s endless shopping – great boutiques and thrift stores in Williamsburg and Soho. Must-stops for your beach sarongs and handmade leather Tulum sandals is Warm in Soho and Pilgrim in Williamsburg for any beach gear. I can`t say I`ve had a hotdog in the city but I guess you have to start with the sidewalk street carts because those are classic (and will build up your immune system!) and then out to Coney Island for the original Nathan`s hotdogs, opened in 1916.
Who or what inspires you? People that are making an extra effort for something outside of themselves…from the founder of a major non-profit that travels the world helping others, to the person that attends the local beach cleanups and stays late. And I`m in awe of the ocean.
Advice you`ve been given that resonated with you…
Be the change you wish to see in the world. AND Go big or go home!
*Annelise McBride is the New York-based blogger of NYC Urchin: building a local community of like-minded City and Sea urchins through events, creative projects and positive initiatives. Check out NYC Urchin`s visuals on Pinterest, Tweets, and Facebook page. All photographs provided by Annie. Thanks lady!