In my short time as a longboard dancer, I’ve met so many other dancers, that basically did the same thing I did when first selecting their initial longboard dancing setup, the sequence typically goes something like this:
- We become absolutely captivated by some display of longboard dancing that we see on YouTube or Instagram. For me, it was a video of Hans, Doyoung, and Moon effortlessly gliding around in Belgium (Endless Dancing). Who was it for you? Was also Doyoung? Maybe Hyo Joo? Maybe you saw someone land a sick tiger claw?
- We decide, that’s what we wanna do! So we set out to spend countless hours online to figure out how we can start dancing on a longboard! Hazahhhh!
- We’re still a little insecure with ourselves, so in order to ”try it out and see if we like it” with minimal risk, we order what we think is an ok longboard from Amazon or something similar, normally based on an equation of how fast we can get it, cost, and average customer review score.
- Board comes, and yeah it’s ok for cruising, but as we rapidly dive more and more into dancing, we find out yeah ok maybe this isn’t the greatest setup for this sport…
- Ditch first online board, go into a real skate / longboard shop, and buy a real setup meant for dancing.
And yeah this works…well kinda…I mean you’ll get started and at the end of the day, getting started is the MAIN thing.
But you’re definitely not being as efficient as you can be with your money and time. When I got to step five in the process, I was still pretty clueless on what all the parts and stuff did, and what I should be looking out for.
I knew I wanted to dance, and for that I knew I needed a bigger board, but beyond that, I was still fairly clueless.
The shop here in Leipzig is awesome, it’s a great place to chill, they make fantastic decks, and they’re very knowledgeable. But you need to know what works for you and your riding style!
So now we’re going to dive in detail into what can help you determine setup for your specific needs.
Here’s our 6 tips for picking out your ideal longboard dancing setup, both from a technical and theoretical standpoint
1. Truly have an idea of what style you want to get into
Being that this is a site dedicated to the style of longboard dancing, we won’t go too in depth into other longboarding styles, but since dancing and freestyle generally go pretty hand in hand with each other, we’ll cover the basics of each again here. In my own definitions:
- Dancing is “stepping” on the board in set sequences to get the board to carve while you do different turns, poses, holds, twists, and so forth.
- Freestyle is doing things that involve the wheels of the board leaving the ground. Ollies, Shuvits, No Complies, etc are all elements of freestyle.
It is advantageous to have an idea of what you want to do, because that can influence your board setup, we’ll get more into this later as the article goes on.
2. Get into a real skate/longboard shop
I cannot stress this enough, the difference between a real skate shop and a non-real skate shop will greatly effect how you progress.
If you have no idea what this means, read the questions below, if the answer to any of the questions below for you are YES, then you are not in a real skate shop.
- Does the store sell mainstream designer clothes as well?
- Does the store sell other sporting good equipment, such as bicycles, football equipment, etc?
- Does the store have an elevator in it?
- Does the store sell any completely assembled “high quality” skate/longboards for less than 100€?
- Do the employees in the store wear matching vests?
- Does the store’s decor change based on upcoming holidays?
Ok ok, I think you get the point haha. But yeah, you should definitely get into a real skate shop because the gear will be much higher quality and can properly take the abuse that comes with skating.
Other than that, you’ll have staff there that is knowledgeable on the equipment, and most importantly you should be able to try out various setups before buying anything!
That last part is crucial, a proper skate shop should have a variety of different setups that give customers a range of ideas of how their purchased setup will feel.
There’s a couple brands out there for longboard dancing gear that are standard throughout the scene, to name a few: Paris Truck Co., Bastlboards, Loaded Boards, Timber Boards, Caliber Trucks, Orangatang Wheels, Bloodorange Wheels – if the shop you’re in carries any or all of these, you’re in a good spot.
A side note on online shopping
To be honest, for longboard gear I’ll only turn to the internet if I need something super specific, or if I need something fast.
There are online retailers out there that sell quality equipment, but I rarely see any differences in price, and plus I like supporting the local skate shop scene.
Besides, most of the online shops that sell quality longboard dancing stuff are all owned by a brick and mortar store anyways, so if you can get to their physical shop, definitely do so! 🙂
3. What size / kind of deck is ideal for a longboard dancing setup?
This is a common question and to answer it very plainly from the start, the deck should be at least 110cm long.
To again refer to really having an idea of what style interests you most, this will make a difference in the size you pick.
- A longer deck will give you more room for stepping. Ultimately your longboard will be acting as a dance floor, so if you need the space, the bigger the better.
- A shorter deck will weigh less and require energy to do flips if you’re more into freestyle.
To tack on some real world experience and learnings here: My first real setup was on the Bastl Bolero, which measures 108cm long. At the time of purchasing it, I already thought the thing was massive, and would completely adequate for my needs.
I always knew I’d tend towards dancing over freestyle, even from the very beginning (because I’m easily terrified on my board and am certain too much freestyle will lead to my untimely demise hah).
It wasn’t until I started learning more advanced dance sequences that I realized the Bolero was actually too small for me. I wear a size 44 (US 10.5) shoe, and when doing certain variations of the cross step I would end up tripping all over myself, and this was very frustrating.
I’ve recently bought a second deck, the Bastlboards Walzer, which comes in at 124cm and that extra 16 centimeters makes a world of difference.
I couldn’t be happier. I am gonna keep the Bolero still because it is beautiful, and mostly out of sentimental value, but it’s really hard to imagine ever going back to it, especially after getting the extra space on the Walzer.
UPDATE MAY 2020
Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been putting in a decent amount of work into improve the site, and one of those things is improving old articles. I’ve acquired my third setup! (Pictured Below)
This is the Timber Boards Kiwi, which measures in at 119cm, so it is between length of my Bastl Boards Bolero and the Walzer. Both of those boards are still in my possession, but this setup here with has really stolen my heart. It’s really my dream setup!
What about flex in a deck?
Another topic that comes up often, and again will go back to your preferred style of riding, more dancing or more freestyle?
Generally, most brands go with a flex system of 1-3, but please, and I cannot stress this enough, DOUBLE CHECK THE FLEX RATINGS WITH THE BRAND YOU’RE INTERESTED IN WITH THE SHOP!
There are some brands that do this differently, so we wanna make sure you’re getting the flex you expect. But the breakdown usually goes something like this:
- Flex 1 / Hardest (basically no flex at all) / for riders over 78kg.
- Flex 2 / Middle (some nice bounce on jumps) / for riders 58-78kg.
- Flex 3 / Softest (basically a trampoline on wheels / for riders up to 58kg.
Again, these are general guidelines, and it will shift from brand to brand. Another great reason to visit a real shop, so you can stand on the boards and get an idea of how bouncy it will be.
Harder Flex in addition to being geared towards heavier riders, favors freestyle riding. Most freestylers don’t like the extra bounce when they land a huge flip or something, because the energy the board sends back after they land can send them flying right back off the board.
Softer Flex favors dancers, because we typically do smaller “hops” on the board, and the flex can help us carve bigger and more slowly, which gives the effect of these nice big graceful turns as we go through our lines.
In the end this isn’t the end all be all to this topic and it just comes down to preference. You’ll meet dancers that ride with no flex and you’ll meet freestylers that ride with a flex 3.
But you should have an idea of what this all means and how it pertains to longboard dancing. I weigh 70kg, favor dancing over freestyle, and with Bastlboards the flex 2 rating for me is absolutely perfect for my longboard dancing setup.
4. What trucks should I get for my longboard dancing setup?
There’s really a lot of science behind trucks and how they’re produced, and there’s no shortage of high-quality brands out there, but generally for dancing you want to pay attention to the following specifications:
- The width of the truck should measure 180mm. Nice long trucks are going to help you get those nice, big, smooth carves.
- The angle of the truck should be 50 degrees. This is optimal for speed and turning, and will help you avoid wheel bite. (This is when you turn really hard, your board makes contact with the wheel, stops said wheel immediately, and sends you flying off the board).
Beyond that, pick a high-quality brand in your local skate shop in a color/design you like and that you can afford.
5. What about wheels, what’s to know here?
If you’re local skate shop is big, you’ll probably be very easily intimated and overwhelmed by the amount of different wheels they stock. So like with trucks, we’re not going to get into specific brands, but rather the specifications you wanna look out for:
- Size should be between 60-70mm. Riding style here matters again, smaller wheels will gain speed quicker and are best suited for freestyle, bigger wheels will roll longer without needing to push so often and are best suited for dancing. A good medium to go with in most cases is 65mm.
- Durometer (Wheel Hardness) should be rated between 80-86A. Harder wheels, just like smaller sizes, will gain speed faster and favor freestyle. Softer wheels will roll longer and favor dancing. With my build and riding style, I ride a 82A, and I find it ideal.
- Pay attention to the lip (or edge) of the wheel. Some wheels have a rounded lip, some of them a straight edge. Rounded lips are a bit more fun, as you can experiment with some sliding tactics, this is much harder to do with a straight edged wheel as the wheels will just bite into the ground if you try to slide on them.
What about bearings and stuff?
To be honest, it seems bearings over all other parts of the longboard seem to have the most conflicting opinions from experienced riders I have met.
My advice, just grab a good set the shop recommends and spend no more than 25€ on a full set. These things take a beating quickly, and you’ll be replacing them every few months anyways (if you ride daily) so don’t spend too much thought or money here.
6. Should I be concerned with Bushings?
Mmmmmmm, yes and no. For those unfamiliar, the bushings are the rubbery-looking things that are jammed in your trucks that control how the board turns. For most stock setups, they are black in color.
This is a complicated because, if you’re reading this guide you’re interested in getting your first longboard dancing setup. And for someone doing that, the bushings aren’t really going to matter at this point / skill level…
Case in point, there’s going to be a learning / fear curve you’re going to have to work over, and when you are doing that you’ll likely be starting with your trucks super tight anyways to feel more stable and safe on the board.
Under these circumstances, even the most professional bushings in the world aren’t going to make a difference, and the bushings that come with your trucks will be adequate for the start. So I would save the money, and no worry about bushings at this point.
The good news is, when you are ready to step up your bushing game, they are not that expensive!
If you are a more advanced rider, check out our guide on longboard dancing bushings. We break down the topic in depth there.
7. Accept from the start that you’re going to get addicted to this, and you’ll be spending lots of hard earned money on it
Ok maybe that sounds dramatic, but to an extent it is true. A proper longboard dancing setup can cost quite a bit of money.
You’re going to improve, learn new things, and you’re going to want to experiment with equipment as you go on. The gear certainly makes a difference with this sport, there’s tricks and moves I can now land with certain setups, that I cannot with a different setup.
The stuff in this article is all guidelines, but in reality as you progress, you’ll discover the certain specifications and brands that work for you specifically, and once you unlock that you’ll be set on it for life. (Unless you completely change riding styles lol).
So, when are you gonna get your first official longboard dancing setup?
It’s a beautiful feeling, walking into a shop, spending some time in there going over options, finally picking out your setup, and seeing the shop assemble your first masterpiece.
And it hurts oh so bad when your brand new setup takes its first crash against the ground to take its first scratch, but it is all part of the experience!
We hope this guide has helped you out, if you’ve got any questions on anything, or have any ideas for making this article more comprehensive or better in any way, please let us know in the comments.
We’d love to make this the ultimate buyer’s guide for first time longboard dancers.