For the New York surf collective, there’s no such thing as a “traditional” surfer
If a year ago you went to any beach in New York, you’d have been hard pressed to spot more than 10 surfers out there at any time. Of those 10, it’s likely there would be zero POC and LBGTQ identifying surfers. Besides New York’s weather, the surfing community’s long standing history with aggressive gatekeeping, and the stereotypical white surfer bro stereotype, is among the reasons why surfing has never had a strong presence in the Northeast.
In the emerging Rockaway Beach surf scene, however, there’s no such thing as a “traditional” surfer—the gatekeeping infamous on California beaches doesn’t exist in New York. Because surfing is a relatively new concept here, there’s an abundance of room to define the norm—or outright reject labels in the first place.
“Benny” is a term used to describe an outsider to the surfing culture. Fittingly, New York’s Benny’s Club is made up of a diverse bunch of individuals who don’t fit the archetypal white, blonde, blue-eyed surfer popularized throughout mainstream culture. Benny’s Club looks to provide a home for POC, members of the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups, where they can share their passion for surfing without outside of the traditional California surfer mold.
In a short film directed by Alexander Cody Nguyen, members of the rapidly growing surf collective can be seen taking ‘pop-up’ lessons, sitting languidly on the sand, helping tie head scarves, and hanging out. Socializing among one another. Johnny, one of the short film’s two narrators, recounts one of the attendees excitedly telling them, “We all got five people’s numbers, and we’re all gonna go surf next week,” bringing home the purpose of Benny’s Club, and emphasizing its vital role in uniting multiple marginalized groups of people under one passion, where boundaries and differences don’t exist.
Editing & Additional Filming Kasey Oldford. Color Nina Gofur. Score Cherry Flavor. Assistants Benji Geisler & JLee. Film Processing & Scanning Kodak LIC. Special Thanks to Benny’s Club.