This past Sunday evening I had the pleasure of conducting an Interview with Esther (AKA Terri / Insta – @territheelf), one of the team riders for Dasilva Boards based out of Tel Aviv in Israel.
She’s been based down in Tel Aviv for a while now, she’s a passionate longboarder, and talking to her was just really refreshing because when it comes to longboarding, her heart is in the right place.
She’s got some great views on the sport – how she sees it, what about it is most important to her, how she got to where she is, hearing all of that was really inspiring for me. I’m super stoked she took some time out of her day to talk to me, and I hope all longboarders out there can take something away from this.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the read. Oh, and for those more keen to audio and visuals, I included the actual recorded video of our Skype Chat below. Feel free to watch us being awkward 🙂
Shall we begin?
What’s the deal with your Instagram Handle – @territheelf? Tell me about what that means to you.
TTE: It’s actually a fairly short story, I’m a huge Lord of the Rings (LOTR) fan. Everyone knows I’m really crazy about LOTR, and I don’t know, people just suddenly started calling me elf. Since then, the name just stuck and I took it as my Instagram Handle.
Then is it safe to assume that your favorite character from LOTR is Legloas? (My sad attempt to try to showcase my LOTR knowledge, hey, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the films hahaha)
TTE: No. Actually not at all. I started disliking him in The Hobbit, in LOTR he was amazing, but in The Hobbit he was just ridiculous. He’s definitely not my favorite character.
Then who is your favorite Tolkien Character?
TTE: From LOTR it would be Éomer. He’s one of the side characters, one of the Knights of Rohan
I actually really did remember this group of knights! Then I go on to blab a bit for how it took me and my best friend over a month to figure out how to beat this one level in the LOTR PS2 game ?
I’d really love to learn more about Israel and Tel Aviv as a whole. Tell me one you thing you LOVE about Tel Aviv, and one thing you HATE about it.
TTE: Especially growing up in Germany, I gotta say I really like how spontaneous and free things can be here. (We go on to try to figure out the English equivalent for the German word “Spontanität” and I respond with “Spontanuity” which I am fairly confident is not even a word ? haha).
I always have had the impression in Germany that you have to schedule everything and really stick to a plan, whereas here everything is just more figure it out on the go and I really like that.
I can always find someone to go skate with at the beach, and since Tel Aviv is so small it’s just really convenient.
One thing I don’t really like is the mentality of the people sometimes. Sometimes it can be rough here living as a European, because the people here can be extreme in different ways.
Sometimes they can be extremely rude, and sometimes they can extremely polite – you really need thick skin if you wanna live here.
“You need thick skin to live in Tel Aviv.”
I actually had no idea you were German, how long have you lived in Tel Aviv?
TTE: For four years.
Where is your home here in Germany?
TTE: I used to live close to Frankfurt, about 30 minutes away.
(Here we have a nice little pause where Terri mixed it up and started interviewing me a bit! But you’ll have to watch the video for that info, it’s weird for me to type up my own answers haha)
What actually led you to move to Tel Aviv, just tired of Germany?
TTE: I think at the time I was a bit tired of Germany, though now I have to admit I do miss it. I think it was really like a gut feeling for me because after I finished high school in Germany, I had a year until my vocational training started, and my mom just suggested that I connect with our Jewish roots and go to Israel during this time off.
I took part in a volunteer program, where you can go work in these commune-type environments. It really was kind of like communism in a way, where everyone lives there and works together to sustain the community.
Everything is self contained, and for four months I was actually milking goats every morning at 530AM. The rest of the day would be spent just exploring and doing cool things with the people I met there.
When I got back to Germany, I couldn’t stop thinking about Israel and my time in the country. I really started to love the idea of moving there.
So that’s exactly what I did.
How’s the experience of living and working in Tel Aviv been as a whole thus far?
TTE: Oh my gosh, to be honest it’s insane. I got my first degree in Germany, but it’s not a bachelor, it’s a different kind of degree and I’ve been working in different marketing agencies ever since.
Now I’ve decided to pursue my bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a major in psychology. So with that plus work, it’s just been crazy.
The bills are really high here, so it’s challenging. There was a time when I was even juggling three jobs and also going to my classes, but you manage somehow.
So how did longboarding actually come into the picture with such a crazy schedule and lifestyle?
TTE: I think longboarding was already in the picture before all that craziness started. I believe it actually started when I was like 16, I asked for a skateboard for my birthday, so my brother and father gave me one.
So I started skating a bit, and started trying ollies and stuff. But then I’d go to school with my skateboard and the other kids would make fun of me, so I dropped it because I felt too insecure with it – which is something I regret to this day.
Then a few years later, actually a few months before my move here, I saw this video of Milan Somerville, his famous video of him in the top hat and the suspenders…I saw him doing longboard dancing and I was like, “Oh my gosh this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” and I wanna learn it. I HAVE to learn it.
So a few days later, I ordered my first longboard and actually ended up taking that longboard to Israel with me.
I started skating in the middle of the night so no one would see me, I was a bit embarrassed when I started. Then about a year later, I found my group here that I started skating with often, and that is how I found my longboard family here.
So you said you ordered your first longboard in Germany and brought it to Israel, so was that first longboard already the Dasilva that you’re riding today?
TTE: No it was a pintail! (Here in this exact moment, you can see her eyes light up) Do you want to see it, it’s beautiful!
Here she excitedly gets up to go grab her first longboard. Seeing the way she proudly holds the board up to the camera and describe it was really special. It reminded me of that feeling you get when you get to first hug a good friend you haven’t see in a very long time – you can really tell this classic Arbor Pintail has a very special place in her heart.
I really love this board because of the graphic, it’s not the best for dancing, but for the start it was really great.
So do you still take the Pintail out every now and then for cruising?
TTE: I started again recently actually. There was about a year where I didn’t ride it, but when I started recently cruising with it again I was just like – “Wow this board is amazing!”
So proper longboard dancing and freestyle, that really started for you in Israel then?
TTE: Yep, I think so!
So what’s the story with Dasilva, how did you end up becoming a rider for them?
TTE: So after I became more confident, I bought my first dancer setup and started doing some steps on it. I started seeing myself improving rapidly, and the scene here is small – the Dasilva guys are active in it so they know everyone here.
So in May of last year (2018), they messaged me and told me they’ve noticed my progress, and they’d love if I became part of the Dasilva family! (She has the biggest smile on her face telling this story, you can really tell it was an amazing moment for her).
It was really amazing to get news like this, and then I got my first Hux.
What do you actually have to do as a Dasilva team rider?
TTE: I think team riders can have some different responsibilities, like there are those really amazing riders creating social media content, which everyone kinda has to do, but I think in my case – I’m not like, bad, but I’m not like crazy good, I’m a very slow learner I feel, so for me the values of the community are really important.
Like in Israel, it’s also important for me to grow the community or teach people, because many people in the beginning are a bit shy or don’t feel comfortable.
Organizing events, keeping the family together, and spreading the stoke about longboarding. That’s what it is all about for me.
I know you’ve said the scene is pretty small there, but how has it been growing?
TTE: It’s difficult. It fluctuates here a lot. There’s a core group here, my skate family of about 20-25 people that I’ve always been around.
Then some of those people broke off to do downhill, some of us stayed with freestyle and dancing, some people stopped as a whole, it’s weird. So it is growing slowly, but it is hard to get people to stick with us long term.
It’s interesting you mention that, because a lot of people do actually start, and then stop for some reason. What for you was that point, when you knew you were going to stick with longboarding forever?
TTE: I think I never had to make this decision to stay with it. I just realized that when I didn’t do it for like a week, I felt like something was missing…and it made me frustrated, and mentally I didn’t feel really good.
Skating really become a big escape for me, if I go without it for one week, I’m not myself.
She remembers at this point I broke my foot and haven’t been on a longboard in over a month. And she feels really bad haha. We then tangent off as I start talking about going to Vegas in November, and how I plan to bring my longboard to start riding again.
One of my favorite questions – For you, what’s been your favorite longboard experience in your life so far?
TTE: I think that would be this year’s SYCLD, that I actually went there and I could also see all the people, that as you mentioned, you only know from Instagram. I was such a fan girl there, I see these guys every day on Instagram as I’m watching their tutorials – then you get there, and everyone is just so friendly. I went there by myself, but I never felt alone.
“I went there by myself, but I never felt alone.”
Some other Dasilva guys where there, and they took care of me. They really felt like my brothers. I remember on the last night in my Airbnb, I started crying because I was so sad to leave. It was just such an amazing experience, and I wasn’t ready to end such an amazing weekend.
It was just completely overwhelming, and just really really nice. This was definitely my highlight.
Imagine the evil LOTR Longboard Elf Queen curses you and says – “From now on, you can only do dancing or freestyle, but only ONE!” What would you pick, and why?
TTE: Dancing because I suck at freestyle. To be honest, I’m not sure where to draw the line anymore, but it would be definitely dancing. I would be very upset if I could not do my super cute steps!
What are your thoughts on how the scene is changing, in terms of pressure to land all these crazy tricks at contests, and technical dancing not really getting the same amount of recognition?
TTE: It’s funny because I just talked about this today, but if you look back at the last three years, how much it has all changed, it is insane.
Because how I remember it, three years ago there was a lot of grab tricks & hand tricks, and I remember trying to find a tutorial of how to ollie on a longboard, and I couldn’t find anything!
Fast forward one year, and suddenly there were all these crazy kickflips and street skating elements happening with longboards! It’s amazing really, but on the other side I noticed at 360 that the old things we used to do, like hand tricks kinda became shunned, like, where did this mentality of ”Oh you don’t do hand tricks, hand tricks are for pussies!” come from?
It really annoys me to hear this stuff, like I get it how stuff like this may not be “as cool” as traditional skating tricks like a kick flip or a big spin or whatever, but the old stuff is nice. They’re safe, you can do amazing things with those old tricks, and it’s beautiful.
We’re still taking about longboard dancing, not street skating, so I’m a bit – not disappointed – but I don’t like how longboarding is sometimes embracing this culture of shaming things or making certain things not cool.
Why do we have to split the community? We have something so nice that we all share. So why do we have to find a way to break that up?
Alrighty last question! For you, what’s the ONE best piece of advice you could give to a new longboarder?
TTE: What I usually tell people when they first start is to take your board everywhere you go, and from now on you skate everywhere you go.
The thing is, the first few weeks, or even months, of skating can be quite unfulfilling.
I mean you’re going around, you’re figuring it out, and you’re pushing and pushing, but when you finally reach the moment that you feel comfortable and enjoy cruising, that’s the start of when good things that can really start happening.
So skate a lot, take your board everywhere you go. If the board becomes your vehicle, it just becomes your best friend in some ways.
A personal and big thank you going out to you Terri, I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to talk to me, sharing your story, and being a part of this amazing community we all cherish and hold so dear. <3