07 Mar On Wednesdays We Skate: The Gel Lab Sessions in Los Angeles
For as long as I can remember, the Gel Lab has been hosting skate sessions every Wednesday in various LA skate spots.
Whether it’s steep inclines for freeriding, parking garages for unlimited downhill action, or the steepest hills in Los Angeles to challenge yourselves to go faster with every hill bomb — coming out and skating with the Gel Lab regulars have been some of the most memorable moments of my LA skate life.
But there is more to the Gel Lab than skateboarding every Wednesday. It is an entire movement that revolves around the entire RAD LA lifestyle — which includes art, music, and events!
Aside from Gel Lab Skate Sessions every Wednesday, Ari aka DJ Shark also hosts rooftop parties and blesses partygoers with his soulful house mixes for a night of pure chill, dancing, fun with friends, and moderate drinking if you are over 21!
What is the Gel Lab?
The Gel Lab is a Los Angeles-based creative outfit that centers around skateboarding, music, and local events.
I first heard of the Gel Lab when I moved to LA in 2014, and I was looking for cool spots I could freeride and hills to bomb.
May I remind you that these sessions happen at night, somewhere between 10 pm to 2 am — and sometimes even later if the crew decides to skate more of the empty LA streets.
Of course, SoCal is home to some of the best downhill spots like Mulholland, Tuna, GMR, and other canyon roads — which is usually where locals skate during the weekends.
My Gel Lab Experience
Saying that my first Gel Lab experience was FUN is definitely an understatement! I had been skating around LA for a month before I discovered this crew, and during my first session, I met a couple of people such as Ari from Loaded Longboards and John from Ojoom Skate Pucks.
Shoutout to those guys for being welcoming and fun to be around!
We started the night freeriding a steep downtown LA hill, which is a good way to warm up for what’s coming next.
The freeriding part got me stoked already, but the next part of the night is where the crew skates empty parking garages.
Skating parking garages
There is a variety of parking garages in downtown LA. Some can get quite gnarly, but some are fun and enjoyable for all skill levels.
At this point, I have only experienced skating in a parking garage one time at the UCLA campus, and I really enjoyed going downhill unlimited times without walking up the hill again—since you can ride the elevator up and get into your next run almost immediately.
I don’t know but skating parking garages reminded me of the Z-Boys when they used to break into backyard pools and skate them during a long drought. And for our generation, it is parking garages.
Note that it is not exactly legal to skate parking garages, but as long as you don’t leave trash and stay with the crew, you’ll be fine!
During one of the sessions I attended, I even got to experience shooting a music video for this band and all of us had to wear pink ski masks while descending the parking garage. It was so much fun and truly an unforgettable experience.
Bombing steep hills
After I had been on a couple of skate sessions with the boys and girls, I had the chance to experience a different spot that the crew visited. It was this really steep hill that we bombed a couple of times before ending the night freeriding and chilling.
Whoever had a car was assigned to shuttle the crew up the hill and took turns with other people who knew how to drive. It was quite rad and not everyone could handle a hill bomb that steep without throwing in a couple of speed checks.
I wasn’t sure how fast that hill was, but it was probably a mile of a stretch that could get you as fast as 50mph if you tucked really low and tight. However, I am more of a fast freeride type of longboarder, which is why I carve and airbrake when it gets too fast for my liking.
Rooftop parties and more
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Gel Lab also hosts rooftop parties that play chill house mixes by Ari “The Shark” himself—who is also the leader of the Gel Lab crew. Aside from these rooftop parties, every once in a while, you get to see him play at skate video launches and other events around LA.
Do You Need an Invite to Attend the Gel Lab Skate Sessions?
I remember I just messaged the page to find out where the crew was going to be, then met them at the spots — meaning you don’t exactly need an invite.
But as a reminder, you are going to have to follow the rules, which is don’t be an asshole and follow the rules.
For example, when they say you cannot arrive after midnight during a parking garage skate session, don’t arrive after midnight. And if you are bombing steep hills, always wear a helmet. You don’t want to ruin everyone’s night by getting seriously injured just because you weren’t wearing a headsaver.
The crew is welcoming and they welcome any longboarder and skater who wishes to skate with them. In fact, I got into working for Landyachtz through people I met at the Gel Lab—which is pretty cool.
On Wednesdays, You Can Skate with Them
If you want to get stoked in the middle of the week to release some stress, you can definitely show up to their meeting places.
Don’t forget to be friendly and respectful to the surroundings as well as your fellow skaters when you get the chance to roll with the crew!
Text by GB Castillo