He is said to be a virtuoso, and for a good reason. Lotfi Lamaali excels in his discipline, longboard dancing, a sport and an artistic practice resulting from an harmonious mix between skateboarding, surfing and dancing. Nooz went into the pockets of this friendly and talented prodigy. Meet with him.
What do you always have in your pockets, Lotfi ?
My keys, my smartphone, wireless headphones and a pair of Nooz sunglasses. I always carry a pair with me, either in my pockets or in my bag. And whenever I travel, I always pack three pairs in my suitcase.
Which models are you wearing?
I have several, but my favorite is the Cruz, because I really like the round shape. Besides, the name reminds me of the word "cruising", so they were made for me! I have them in Tortoise, Blue and Black - my favorites - that way I can switch depending on my outfit..
Is the clothing style important to you?
Very important! (Laughter)
Do you ever match your longboards with your sunglasses?
Yes! (Laughter) I match my sunglasses mostly with the wheels of my boards which can be yellow, orange, or blue. For example, if I take my longboard with blue wheels, I will wear the blue Cruz!
What do you like about Nooz glasses?
I was immediately seduced by the super-flat case, it's really a great idea! They are very good glasses, I am not blinded by the sun, they are super light and this is a big plus for me! When I ride, it's much more comfortable than heavier glasses that tend to slip off every time I do a pirouette. Thanks to their lightness, they stay on my nose a little longer and that's really important for me because I ride all the time.
Since when have you been practicing longboarding?
It’s been twelve or thirteen years now. My girlfriend at the time was a surfer, a rider and she had a longboard at home. It was the first time I had seen such a long board, I only knew about skateboards.. So, one day, out of simple curiosity, I decided to give it a try. I grabbed the board, went out and started riding. It was love at first sight! That day I discovered some incredible sensations.
How did you get into longboard dancing and what attracted you to this discipline?
When I started longboarding, I watched a lot of downhill videos on Youtube until I came across two riders called Adam & Adam - whom I didn't know at the time - who made very accessible, well explained and above all very funny videos! That's what made me want to do it! I would watch the video at home and then go down the street with my board and try to reproduce what they were doing. Longboard dancing is a very special discipline, a real mix. It's a combination of some traditional skateboard tricks with dance steps and surfing cross-steps.
At the time, this sport was very little known, how did you get trained?
With YouTube at the beginning! I found myself on an almost blank page because there weren't really any tricks in the longboard dancing list, so I told myself I was going to experiment, swinging my board in all directions to see what was possible to do with a 1m25 board. I might as well say that the first one was a tough one! (Laughter)
How did you become so popular and known?
I invented a figure where I grab my board with my hand which I named Aero Grab. Then I decided to record myself and post the videos on Facebook. As I met people, I was asked to make professional videos of this figure and little by little it was reproduced all over the world! Amazing!
You told us, you always have your wireless headphones in your pocket: music is an important part of your life?
I've been doing music for 20 years. I play the guitar, the piano, I produce music, that's why among all the longboard disciplines which exist - like slalom or downhill - I felt naturally attracted to dancing. It's the artistic side of it, in connection with the music, that attracted me.
What styles of music do you like?
I'm pretty eclectic, I listen to everything, but I particularly like blues, jazz, and soul. I am very neo-soul currently, I like a lot of artists like Tom Misch, FKJ, or Jordan Rakei.
Longboard dancing is still a rather discrete discipline, are you working on making it more popular?
It emerged in 2006-2007 in California in the United States and thanks to YouTube which was created almost at the same time, the world was able to slowly discover the first videos of this discipline. Today in 2021, it is still a discreet sport, there is no official international federation yet, but it is in progress, we are working on it with other members of the community. This being said, there have been events for years, including a world championship since 2013 in the Netherlands that brings together the global longboard dancing community.
You are also very dedicated to your community?
Absolutely. I decided to dedicate myself to the community 7 years ago by launching a movement called the Dock Session. The idea was to offer open sessions to introduce more and more people to longboarding and make the community grow. We started in Paris on the quays of the Seine, where everyone could - and still can! - come and try. In 2015, I contacted all the riders I knew around the world to export the concept and progressively, we organized Docksessions in Japan, USA, China, Philippines, etc. Today we are present everywhere and we have ambassadors all over the world who make the community grow every day.
You have just directed your first short film entitled Halo*: how did the experience go?
I loved it and I just started my own production company! I'm always in front of the camera to perform but today, I want to express myself in another way. I want to create content on the other side of the screen. I would like to produce artistic videos for dance, surfing, BMX for example, not only for longboarding. I would like to evolve towards directing and not only for performance.
What can we wish you to have in your pockets for the future?
My phone, full of messages and calls to offer me new projects in order to confirm that I was right in quitting my job last year to dedicate myself to longboard dancing! (Laughter)
*Halo by Lotfi Lamaali, released on July 14, 2021