Monday, January 12, 2009

skater mob on ellsworth (nowhere to get drunk)

I'd never really noticed this before, but boy, is Ellsworth overrun with kids. Especially around 6pm Friday night. I'm hanging out, waiting to meet with with Henry from the Scene, when all of a sudden like three dozen skater kids come down Ellsworth all at once on their boards, a security guard chasing after them. Duck inside Borders, and the middle-schoolers have taken over, staking out territory in the coffee shop, the music section, between the stacks.

I'm like, "where are the adults?" Not the parents, though I'd like to know how they're spending Friday night. Or where my fellow twenty-somethings go on a Friday night. With graduation approaching fast, I'm gonna have to find a place to spend the next phase of my life, one hopefully characterized by lots of bars and Metro access, and I've realized it ain't Silver Spring.

Biggest regret my friend's dad ever had, he says, was moving here after college because there was nothing to do. Thirty years later, there's still no "nightlife" in Silver Spring between leaving high school and having children, aside from a handful of bars like the Quarry House and Jackie's, and I don't see those being the foundation of a crazy Friday night out.

Some might say more bars and clubs would scare the families away (many of Downtown's neighbors already fear that happening with the Fillmore) but I don't see us getting the 2 a.m. drunken rush hour any time soon. A little more nightlife might even get the kids to chill out, knowing that the older set's around (and watching through beer goggles). Clarendon has quite a few bars and clubs, and the singles and strollers seem to get along pretty well. (I believe Virginia's skaters have decamped to Alexandria, but that is just a theory.)

We don't have to become MoCo's U Street, but until I have a couple of little Up The Pikes running around, that would be absolutely fine with me.

(BTW: Super-thanks if you left a comment on Tuesday's post about the new scanners at Giant . . . we had 21 comments, the most JUTP's had since last July.)


Mortis Olaf said...

Sort of reminds me of Lord of the Flies.

Thomas Hardman said...

That's the best Zombie Crawl photo of them all, Dan.

Oh, wait a minute, they're clutching skateboards and zombies don't clutch skateboards, do they?

My bad.

Unknown said...

I do agree. I don't go out to Silver Spring for nightlife. I'll go to shop or get something to eat, but not to socialize. Although, my roommate and her friends love the Pirate Bar.

I personally prefer the swankier places downtown and in DuPont.

Big picture, I see this as proof that car-dependent suburbia is an inhospitable place for kids older than age 6. Middle schoolers and teenagers need a place to go socialize. They need a place, not a cul-de-sac. Silver Spring is the only place that has places that are interesting and aren't car-dependent for miles.

They don't go to downtown or DuPont because it's too expensive for them and they aren't yet 21. Currently, Silver Spring is that hybrid that can accomodate them. It's the only one. Therefore, they all go there.

The only way to alleviate this teenage-conglomeration is to accelerate the creation of new places like Silver Spring. Wheaton is next. We just got our first independent coffee house, Dejabel Cafe. After that, Brightwood down in the District would be a great place for a greater mixture of places.

Angela E. Taylor said...

So this is where I should take my 10 yr old wanna-be pro sk8boi? He keeps asking where are the skaters at? (Teens or tweens, it matters not to him althou he'd insist that I go w/him and then hang back and not talk...but then again he's young enuf not to really like being out after dark...) He's on his 2nd board, custom built...

But what can I know. I'm practically ancient at 40something. Nevertheless thanks for the lead.

-- ZipCar-driving-relocated-from-Boston female

Dan Reed said...

Ellsworth is definitely where skaters go to hang out/show off/make trouble, though there are lots of informal skate spots across East County (most of which I don't know of, as I am not a skater). There are actual public skate parks as well in Olney and Rockville, too - one was planned in Silver Spring (at the corner of Fenton and 410) but has been held up for a very, very long time.

WashingtonGardener said...

The corner of Fenton and 410 is in the SS Masterplan as a Gateway Park with plantings and artwork and welcome signage to the Fenton Village.

ONE county employee suggested getting the skate kids out of downtown business' hair and pushing them as far away as they could onto this proposed public gateway park. The neighboring community still VERY MUCH wants their promised gateway park to b completed and yes, also wants the skate kids to get their skatepark, just not at the sacrifice of this needed buffering gateway GREEN space.

Several alternate skate park spaces have been proposed in downtown SS including incorporating into it into the new civic center or the new transit center where the skaters will naturally congregate. None of the serious suggestions have been acted upon.

Meaanwhile, the town of Takoma Park has a skateboard park planned a a mile away near PineyBranch and 410 - it is stalled for unknown reasons right now. Many some of the skaters can look into reviving and fast=tracking those TP plans.