Vans East Coast Marketing Manger Ryan DeWitt speaks passionately when talking about the Open House events they've been conducting all winter at the House of Vans in Brooklyn, NY. On Wednesdays the event space and skatepark opens its doors to the public for a free event where anyone can come skate and sign up to perform live music.
"The idea wasn't to have huge acts, but people from the neighborhood who want to come and skate and have a place to play music in front of their friends," DeWitt says. "It also gives everyone a warm place to skate during the winter as well."
There's an excitement and spontaneity that buzzes around the events. Christian Hosoi was a guest recently and captivated everyone as he destroyed the bowl, but the nights aren't focused on celebrity. It's about community. "It's an opportunity to find out about new music, like I did when I was younger through skate videos and Thrasher [magazine]. Whether you skateboard or not, you can just come through," DeWitt explains. "It also inspires kids to get their own thing together and have a place to perform after seeing someone else do it here."
DeWitt's idea is a success, and it's not just because there's free beverages and pizza; it's because it taps into the original spirit of skateboarding. Skateboarding and music have always brought together people who may never have otherwise met, and that diversity is reflected at each Open House.
"The most interesting thing about the Open House nights has been the eclectic nature of the performances," DeWitt says, grinning. "There's a lot of hip-hop acts, but we've also had a girl with a ukulele and a kazoo, a three-piece folk outfit, R&B acts -- we have all types of music, and that was my idea behind it from the get go."