Inaugural Madcity Meltdown skate contest set for May 7

Flying Low Skateshop’s Jeffrey Halleran gives us the rundown on what to expect at the event.
Photo: From left to right: Orin Bush, Winnie Bishop, and Jeffrey Halleran. Bush and Halleran are sitting to the side of stairs leading into a bowl while Bishop sits on top, centered. All three are propping their skateboard decks up and smiling. All photos by Steven Spoerl.

Flying Low Skateshop’s Jeffrey Halleran gives us the rundown on what to expect at the event.

Madison’s skateboarding community has grown in the past several years, on multiple levels. Organizations like Femme And Queer Skate Night diligently worked to redraw and subvert the borders that have historically kept skateboarding’s demographic overwhelmingly skewed towards cishetero males. Local skate shops, skateboarding collectives embracing activism, and locals-turned-pros have helped expand the confines of skateboarding culture in Madison and beyond.

Madcity Meltdown—a skate contest organized by Flying Low Skateshop and co-presented alongside Alumni, Freedom, Focus, and Femme And Queer Skate Night—makes a conscious effort to showcase that progression. Jeffrey Halleran, who owns Flying Low Skateshop and fronts Madison punk act Clean Room, has been putting in extra work to make sure the event goes off as intended. “We’re really excited to be getting this special new event happening here that we’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years now. The intensity is building, all the prizes are coming in, and we’re ready to rip. It’s gonna be something fun for everybody,” Halleran says. 

A promotional flyer for Madcity Meltdown that lists the details of the event.

Halleran continues: “What’s really great about this event is that it’s pushing for togetherness and inclusivity. Inclusiveness within the skate community. It’s also leaning towards pushing towards positive self-esteem and mental health awareness. Feeling good about ourselves and cheering each other on. It’s a family-friendly, kid-friendly event. We’re excited to be getting to work together with all four of the local skateshops as well as the Femme And Queer skate group.”

The event will start at 8 a.m. at Madison Skatepark (in McPike Park) on Saturday, May 7. It’s split into four competitive levels: Beginners, Intermediate, LGBTQI+, and Advanced/Sponsored. Each level will have time allotted for practice, contest runs, and award handouts. Baker, Ace Trucks, Nike SB, Snot Wheel Company, Thrasher magazine, the Talkin’ Schmit podcast, and Toy Machine all made meaningful contributions to Madcity Meltdown. “We thank our friends at the brands that have helped provide the prize promo for the contest,” says Halleran.

As of the publication of this article, the contest still has a few open spots open in the LGBTQI+ category and the organizers are looking for available skaters who belong to that community to help score that section. If that’s you, get in touch at the Madcity Meltdown event page.

Winnie Bishop locks into a 5-0 grind at Madison Skatepark. She’s in tan pants and a black sweatshirt and her arms are raised. A colorful wreath is visible on a large pole in the background.

Winnie Bishop, a team rider for Flying Low and an active member of Femme And Queer Skate Night, pointed to Madcity Meltdown’s commitment to inclusivity as a meaningful gesture. “It’s harder sometimes for femme and queer people to get into skateboarding, especially when you’re younger,” Bishop says. “I think now it’s changing, but typically you don’t see as many of those people in the sphere of media related to skateboarding as much. Not just in media, but in real life. It’s overwhelmingly cis-male-dominated. Younger guys see cool, older guys skateboarding and they’re like, ‘Nice, I wanna do that.’ Or their friends are doing it, so it just happens, and you get into it, and it’s easy to get into it, for some people.”

Bishop continues: “It’s kind of harder to think ‘Oh, I wanna try skateboarding’ if nobody around you is skateboarding and you don’t see people around you who you relate to who are skateboarding and you don’t know where to start and you don’t want to look like an idiot or like you don’t know what you’re talking about. I feel like there’s this culture in skateboarding, with some people being a poser, not knowing the lingo. Even if that’s not actually so bad when you actually get into it and that’s not what most people are about, there’s still that idea that that’s what it is and it can make it really intimidating to get going and to keep with it. So it’s nice that I feel like in Madison it’s starting to change and you’re starting to see a lot more people, older folks and younger folks, who look different and don’t fit into that, who are skateboarding and I hope that it makes people, [especially] younger people want to give it a try.”

Bishop admitted to being both nervous and excited about skating in the contest, as did Flying Low’s newest team rider, Orin Bush. Bush has been skateboarding for eight years and became a team rider in late April. “I’ve looked for contests before but I haven’t really found any. I took a break for a couple of years,” says Bush, who is 14. “Me and my brother took a break for a couple years, then we picked up once quarantine started. And I just improved. I landed my first kickflip January of last year. January 3rd.” Asked what he hoped to get out of his contest experience, Bush responded, “Just to push myself, so that I can hopefully improve, like I’ve been doing, and then just keep getting better and better and better.”

Orin Bush finishes off a long boardslide on a round rail at Madison Skatepark. He’s wearing a stickered black helmet, a blue Toy Machine shirt, green pants, and yellow shoes. The far end of the park and a few other skaters are visible in the background.

Bush’s commitment to personal growth, Bishop’s commitment to facilitating healthy communal growth, and Halleran’s commitment to nurturing both sides of the equation all factor into the multifaceted purpose Madcity Meltdown serves. Beyond the contest’s utility as an example of unification and acceptance, it also allows the Madison skateboarding community the type of feature that too often proves elusive. The spotlight will be on the people who make Madison’s scene vital and provide a reason for heightened excitement.

“It’s a fun way for us to get to work within the community and get our Flying Low Skateshop team to be hyped to be part of a special event and also get the rest of the skate community in Madison and surrounding areas to get hyped about a special event,” says Halleran. “We want to cheer on all of our old guard, the pro-level and advanced-level skaters we have in town who are gonna be skating in Advanced and Sponsored. We want to provide a platform or a space for them to be seen in a certain light that’s going to frame them for success and to get people hyped up. Just to get people psyched about skateboarding.”

He adds: “We’ve got to give a big shoutout to [Interim Community Events Coordinator for the Parks Division] Kelly Post over at the City of Madison for helping us get this event going and getting it up and off the ground and helping us work our way through the first time we’ve had a city-permitted event go down.”

Reflecting on his status as a new business owner and as someone whose been a fixture in Madison skateboarding for 30 years, Halleran continues: “It’s time to do whatever I can within my realm of resources and energy to help lead by example with organizing events like the Madcity Meltdown to help bring us together as a skate community. To help lift each other up and to help provide an avenue in which we can strive for our greatest potential as skateboarders and as individuals and as people. To cheer each other on no matter what level we’re on or at in our skateboarding ability timeline.”

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