Proximity

prɒkˈsɪmɪti/

noun

noun: proximity  nearness in space, time, or relationship

On a hot, muggy evening in May I made my very first trip to Swansea town centre six months after moving here. It had become a bit of a joke, then a challenge to see how long I could go without going into town but, when Cinema & Co announced the UK premier of Taylor Steele’s Proximity I had to give in. People clearly  got pretty excited about this film and it sold out quickly, Cinema & Co had to release standing tickets to accommodate the demand.

On arrival I was surprised to see what  looked a like a shop front rather than a cinema. The little bar area was full to bursting  and boiling hot, the crowd spilled out onto the street. It’s quite a bizarre thing to see people you have  only  ever seen in the water in a different context, familiar faces become unfamiliar because they are not attached to neoprene clad bodies. Surfers  in the city and shock, horror in  clothes  with dry hair!  A door to the side of the bar opened and we waddled into the cinema  like a line of,  squashed, sweaty penguins.  I loved it as soon as I walked in, with it’s cushion strewn seating made from pallets and  fairy lights dotted about the place.

THE MOVIE

The synopsis from the official website says

“Taylor Steele presents, PROXIMITY, a visceral portrait of modern surfing. The film follows eight of the world’s best surfers – four legends and four rising stars – as they search for new waves and deeper understanding in exotic destinations. PROXIMITY features the most prodigious collection of surfing talent on the planet. From 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and current champ John Florence, to big wave icon Shane Dorian and breakthrough performer Albee Layer, these are the definitive talents from every aspect of the sport. Six-time women’s champ Stephanie Gilmore, radical activist Dave Rastovich, and style masters Rob Machado and Craig Anderson complete the cast.”

Watching surfing on the big screen with big sound is always a treat but, the style and feel  of Proximity presented a slightly different and welcome take on the often adrenaline fueled, loud, action packed surf films made by the brands. Proximity feels like a calm, gentle, flow rather than an adrenaline driven raging torrent and while this might not appeal to everyone , it did to me. With a slight art house feel to it Proximity focuses on 4 pairs of surfers in different locations around the world as they converse, banter and surf together. The film is quiet yet  it leaves an impression, it’s funny at times yet  thought provoking. The final message of Proximity from  narrator Gerry Lopez is that in world where the ever increasing demands of modern life leave us with little time we must live in the moment, we must make the  time and create  opportunities  to be  in Proximity to our passions and what drives us. Perhaps this is why I connected with the film,  my recent relocation had put me in proximity to the coast and the surf.

CINEMA & CO

Aside from the film, I really took to this little cinema, it feels like a secret club, a speakeasy, with a secret door through to a whole world of films, destinations and stories.  From the funky furniture in the bar to the delicious cakes and super comfy cinema seating Cinema & Co is a unique venue well worth a visit.  A week after Proximity I was back again for a screening of the absolute classic that is The Endless Summer and no doubt I’ll be back again soon. perhaps for Church of the Open Sky on Friday June 16th, trailer here CLICK ME 

I spoke to  owner Anna about  how much I loved Cinema and Co and here’s what she had to say about the recent spate of surf films they have been showing  ,

“I really love everything about the surfing community such lovely people! I’m keen to run monthly surf-related events as it was quite clear from the Proximity evening that there aren’t many social opportunities for surfers to get together and I’d love to be instrumental in providing a regular hang-out”

Please, please  do Anna especially in winter when we are all struggling with the dark nights, when people hibernate and those of us living more rural become a little isolated, when we stop hanging about in the car park for hours, camping or having a fires in the sand dunes after surf , that’s when we will need places like Cinema & Co even more.

 

Check out Cinema and Co  https://www.cinemaco.co.uk/

 

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A Blind Date in Cornwall

I have a blind date in Cornwall tomorrow! eeek! Ok, I don’t have a date as such, I haven’t been set up with a foxy silver surfer. It’s not really blind either, oh and it’s not a date. Ok, tomorrow I’m going on a surf trip with a friend I have never met in real life. This trip should have taken place 3 weeks ago but, had to be changed at the last minute. This has really worked in our favour as it was flat as a pancake  and this weekend is looking decidely not flat, hoo-ra!

Fistral this week

Fistral this week

Aussie Surf Chick and I have been chatting online for quite a long time now, we ‘met’ because she sent me a lovely message about one of my posts here on Surfabella. I supposed we know as much about each other as two new friends if not more, perhaps you give more away tapping away on a keyboard.

At one point, because she has no pictures of herself on Facebook (total opposite to show off here) I did accuse Aussie Surf Chick of being Steph Gilmore. Steph had come off the world tour injured, Aussie Surf Chick is Aussie and blond and a surfer. Was she a champion surfer in disguise, befriending me for a project? Aaaahh or a documentary about how the world champ can turn a fat 40 year old kook into a brilliant surfer?

I now know that Aussie Surf Chick is in fact not Steph. Nevertheless, we have a lot in common, not least that we are both Landlocked and do not get to surf very often. This has all changed for both of us now that I’m finally driving. So tomorrow at 5am I’m loading up the Baked Bean and headed on a 5 hour drive first, to Taunton to collect her from the London train and then onto Newquay for 4 days of surfing, eating nice food, checking out The Wave Project’s Summer Surf Challenge on Fistral, chatting, trying not to buy everything in the surf shops, maybe watching some of the longboarding comp at Cranntock, relaxing and whatever else comes our way.

  I’m really quite worried about loading the boards on the roof rack for the first time, I’ve tied boards down before but, the paranoia is still there doing it myslef for the first time! Worst case scenario is, I bottle out of loading them up for the last bit of the M5,  Malcom (my board)  stays in  the front seat which is where he will be for the first leg of the journey and Aussie Surf Chick squeezes into the back seat behind me until we hit the A30. We are so used to conversing without seeing each other’s faces anyway that it won’t be unusual for us!

To some people it might be a bit odd, holidaying and sharing a room with a stranger but, I have never thought this way. I’m also finding that within the surf community, particularly amongst the birds  it’s pretty common. People go on solo trips all the time, at surf camps you end up sharing rooms with strangers, people meet up with each other via Facebook groups and organised events. If you have a passion for something and your regular mates don’t, you have to put yourself out there, and that often means going  alone until you build up some connections. Even today I’ve had messages from surf girls I have never met suggesting we meet up or go for a surf in Newquay.

There’s a warm welcome waiting for us in Cornwall even though we are strangers in town and it’s not just the amazing temperatures forecast for early next week. Now we just need to get there and I need to not scream about the boards all the way down the M5 from Taunton or Aussie Surf Chick just might run in the other direction!

See you in the water x

London Surf Film Festival and Meeting Steph Gilmore

A post work rush on Thursday evening to get to London via feet, bike, bus, train and tube took me to the  opening night of the London Surf Film Festival and the UK premier of Stephanie in the Water.  Here is a little,  (voice of Del Boy Trotter) reportage of my evening.

I arrive at Genesis Cinema in Stepney Green just in time to join a long queue of something rather unusual, surfers in clothes, yes, surfers in clothes! Surfers in lots of clothes and coats, big dark coats and gloves and shoes and socks! It’s a cold, dark, wet night in London and we are a long way from the sea! I clutch my ticket in my fat, cold, little hand and queue with these heavily clothed people who are both strangers and so familiar.

 I head upstairs towards the theater and bar and I casually walk past Steph Gilmore, as you do.  People are just walking by, they haven’t even seen her so I decide to say hello as it’s only a matter of time before she’s going to be swamped. She offers me her hand and a massive, genuine, dazzling smile in greeting. She’s taller than I imagined and she’s got a very happy vibe about her, she seems to almost sparkle and she’s so, so pretty and natural in real life!  I babble some crap about almost being late. I’m surprised to find I’m a little star struck and tongue tied, stupidly I don’t even congratulate her on her performance on the tour so far. I babble some crap about being recovering from injury and I’m looking forward to the film as I’m in need of a kick up the arse and some inspiration to get back into training. She says she hopes it does the trick. We have a quick photo and it’s goodbye, the film is about to start. I’m a bit shaken in a good way, I can’t believe I just talked to the woman I have watched all year, in awe on the ASP tour, she’s a legend!  I can already feel a massive boost from meeting Steph and go into the theater and take my seat.

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Me and my mate Steph Gilmore

 There’s an Intro from the festival directors and a few laughs and then it’s show time. As the lights dim for the first short film by Luke Pilbeam I look around at the faces in the crowd lit up by the light from the screen and I feel like I’m part of something. I might be the only surfer ( is it ok to call myself that?)  in my everyday, local sphere but,  here everyone loves surfing.  I feel like part of a tribe, these are my people haha!

The short film Out of the Black and into the Blue is fantastic, beautiful photography, stirring music and insightful words that sum up a feeling most of us can’t articulate but, understand and constantly crave. It’s rousing and passionate and this is the first time I’ve seen any surf footage on the big screen, it was made for it. If you go to the LS/FF website all of the shorts are there.

 Next up is Stephanie in the Water but, I won’t go into too much detail and spoil it.   There’s some memorable moments and it’s inspiring, thought provoking , amusing and triumphant all in one.  It really shows Steph’s passion, determination and commitment and in some very funny moments her competitiveness provokes a lot of giggling from the audience! I think different people would get different things from this film but, as someone who is struggling to get back into fitness and feels a bit shitty it was the perfect tonic.  I took from it exactly what I needed and astonishingly I find that I can identify with Steph. I know, who’d have thought it? Me, identifying with 5 x ASP world champ but, I do simply as someone that loves surfing who is finding it difficult and is determined to work hard and get back into it. It does not matter that she’s a world champion and I’m still learning.

 The Q & A that follows proves again what a lovely, warm, witty, intelligent, down to earth girl Steph is.  This beautiful, strong, determined young woman should be the role model that young girls look to,  she’s now this old bird’s role model.  So,  it’s out with the croissants and in with a renewed focus on getting fit again. In my last post  I said I needed to get back to what motivated me in the first place and I’m almost there.  With the positivity and determination to get back on it that I took from the film and a 3 day surf trip to Newquay starting tomorrow,  things are getting back on track .  Stephanie in the Water is a reminder of how happy surfing makes me, those final scenes where Steph is free surfing, the smile on her face says it all,  it’s the very same  thing  that first motivated me. I think the kids call it stoke!

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