words: Joe Kanzangu
Immediately as I land at PDX after a daze-y hour-and-some-long ground delay in New York, I text my voluntary rides letting them know that if they’ve already left, I completely understand, since I went full incommunicado during my flight. Instantly, I hear back from them. They’ve just finished eating near the airport and were waiting to hear from me so they could scoop. I’m not gonna lie–that hit me big time. For me, it’s always about the subtleties when it comes to intentionality. Here I was, an inconvenience for the sweet times that awaited us, and people that I was barely acquainted with just naturally wanted to make sure I was good so we could all head into the fun together. The energy was set.
I hop in the Tacoma as cumbia classics play, and I dap up Peruano-Americano filmer Karlos Jeri-Wahrhaftig, who I met at Burton Culture Shifters, and Los Angeles-based photographer Maximiliano Garcia, who’s behind the wheel. The drive down Highway 26 deep into the temperate, evergreen-forested mountainscape of Government Camp is filled with boogaloo Latin music (reminiscent of Joe Bataan–big up to all my East Coast Afro-Filipinos). We shuffle between conversations about classic snow films, favorite moments from this past winter, and just generally being stoked about being in Oregon for the summer (and we give our respect to Silent Rock). You can see our inner ardor beaming out. The idea of being on a snow hill with an ensemble of Black, Brown, Asian, and other rad riders has me cheesing from cheek to cheek. We stop to pick up the most tenaciously zen-minded snowboarder I’ve ever encountered, Matt “Mizl” Ybarra, who has come up from Boreal with even more Latin suavity.
It’s my first time in Oregon and I’m buzzing like I’m twelve again, taking it all in. We pull into Timberline Lodge so that Mizl can join up with the rest of the Snowboy build crew. Suriname-American snowboarder Lando Brown hops in the bed of the truck and we pull off to raid the closest Thriftway. That first day in The Beaver State is filled with beer-in-hand kickball, jumping into Lando’s secret creek spot, and meeting Krush and Smiley Kulesza for the first time. Automatically as we greet, I feel firsthand the magnetic warmth of the joy-filled cultural architects. Krush and Smiley have curated a purposeful experience straight from their heart: Halo-Halo.
There, on the 11,244 feet that is Mt.Hood, where cracked-pepper volcanic rocks are as ubiquitous as the year-round snow, a metamorphosis has occurred. Snowboy Productions, and their never-ending (frankly, I just don’t want it to) Space Creators Tour, have launched an event two years in the making. And for many, including me, it encapsulates what we’ve been waiting a lifetime for. Halo-Halo (which translates to “mix-mix” in Tagalog) officially launched on July 8th, bringing together a dynamic pan of riders such as Alberta’s own Aaron Tam, Stefan Alvarez (aka Taco), Kamal Eldood, CAPiTA and Soy Sauce Nation rider Miles Fallon, everybody’s favorite Jewish Dominican LJ Henriquez, and Cuban Lu’s Technically Doing It riders, including Michael McDaniel, Kody Williams, Stevie Bell, Rob Roethler, Irie Jefferson, Adros Mitchell, and Zeb Powell–just to name a few. The different crews all riding down the side knee of Hood resembled the scene out of the 1979 action-thriller flick, The Warriors, when all the gangs pull up.
Krush, our Cyrus, corralled us from the varying places we’re from to, as Michael McDaniel put it, “Get on this active volcano and snowboard it.” In his opening speech, Krush details the core of what Halo-Halo is all about. “When we were coming up with the idea for Soy Sauce Nation’als,” he says. “It was definitely hitting home with an Asian focus to that, but we always pictured it evolving into a broader spectrum to be a full BIPOC-inclusive event.”
Krush recounts how, after having a mirage on a hot day of himself enjoying some flavorful shaved ice at a Jollibee, and being inspired by Smiley, who’s Filipino, Halo-Halo was sparked. The dessert, which is a kaleidoscopic of flavors, has been translated onto the mountain with eruptive riders, a rompish media crew, and the most extraordinary marble-gilded shapers this side of Hood.
I take it all in, mesmerized by the vibrancy and style of everyone as they reflect the expressions of the places they’ve traveled from. Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Vermont, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Tahoe, Salt Lake, Denver, and even Atlanta all well represented.
Recently we’ve seen established governmental structures continue to perform in regressive fashion and disenfranchise racial and gender groups whose liberties have been historically constricted. Instead of restorative measures being implemented to bring people together and counter the effects of our shared history, these branches are cemented in a carousel of their own incestuous motives.
It’s grass-rooted productions like Halo-Halo that give people hope.
The first-ever Halo-Halo exhibited a model occasion that should be the standard we all strive for in the communities we grow, the competitions we have, and the support systems we lean on. At Halo-Halo, different cultures were brought together through every facet of production. We went from hitting rails (whole lotta slams in my case) to jumping into the lakes and playing bank at Charlie’s. We learned about youth-led organizations such as the Service Board in Seattle, and how board, helmet, and goggle donations are usually hard for them to come by. We saw how essential programs like SHRED Foundation are for the next generation (just check out Ronny Rizz’s edit here).
True representation is multi-dimensional. Beyond the double corks and back sevens, it was substantially exciting to get a first-hand account of the infrastructural composition of Halo-Halo. Krush, before we even all got there, set up a system where we could coordinate transportation, link ups, and future cross-functional collaborations. During the first day commencement, Krush made sure to intro the builders, aka the Quality Hand Jobs crew. In true poetic fashion, he goes through the journey of teaming up with Mizl to create Butter Ball at Boreal and how they launched “IT’S TITS!”. He gave salutary roses to Urris White and PJ (big up, Sugarbush), who linked with Krush on The Bush Project and also debuted Rome’s Sidehit Seance with him. Anny Vongsavanh has worked on the last two “IT’S TITS!” builds with the QHJ crew. Krush met John Bryant at DUH. The Event at Trollhugen. Adam Balon is the owner of the skateboard and snowboard shop, Propaganda. Snow-shaper and kite-flyer, Meliz Sousa, went through extraordinary feats to get Krush’s attention so he could be a part of this squad. Even Team Canada’s absolute ripper, Liam Gill, got in on the build in between his Olympic training sessions. This crew went hours in the dark to get the features ready for Halo-Halo, and to see them receive these more-than-deserved flowers got everyone juiced.
Halo-Halo was an affirming movement that catalyzed how sweet it is to cross-culturally connect. It held space for people to be their authentic selves by bringing their own flavors and styles onto the mountain. There was nothing marginal about enjoying each other’s similarities and differences. The reason we all love snowboarding is because of the plethora of styles, tricks, forms, and fun you can chase riding sideways. The board is what connects us all no matter if you’re a park rat, backcountry fiend, or just working on your turns on groomer runs. We all love snowboarding and Snowboy Productions just made it way radder. Snowboarding’s fucking awesome!
Long live the Space Creators Tour!
Long live #Snowboy_Halo_Halo!