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So You Think You Can Skate?

Downtown nightclub opens its doors to skaters for weekday half-pipe competition

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The Loft is like a Transformer toy these days. On the weekends, it serves as one of Boise's premier dance clubs, filling the downtown vacancy left when Bada Boom closed its doors. Weekends at the Loft come complete with pounding bass and gyrating sex pots wearing out their dancing shoes. During the week, however, its edgier alter ego comes out.

On Monday and Tuesday nights, the Loft turns into a skateboarder's paradise, when the bar's management lugs in and sets up a complete and totally skateable half-pipe on which local skaters can both practice and compete.

The half-pipe is six enormous pieces of sturdy wooden molding that converge to cover the same laminate that functions as the weekend dance floor in the back room of the large, multi-room bar.

With the half-pipe in place for two days a week, the bar morphs into a different kind of scene, catering to a different kind of clientele. Monday nights are free skate nights, open around 9 p.m. to those tricksters who want to practice and goof around in a spacious indoor venue. Tuesday nights are competition nights, when the skate room opens at 9 p.m. for an hour of warm up before the showdown.

"We started doing this like a month ago," said Loft bartender Chase Harris. "And we have like maybe 30 or 40 people come each week."

That's 30 to 40 competitors, he clarifies. There are more folks who come to skate but not compete, and even more who come just to watch the show.

"There are, like, no other places in Boise to skate when it gets cold," said Harris. "So I think this is going to do pretty well, and it is going to get people in the bar on Monday and Tuesday nights."

So far the plan to get people in the door is working, according to Harris. But mostly the half-pipe is getting adult men into the bar. The thing is, it is a bar, so no one younger than 21 can get into the place, even to watch. And Harris says all of the competitors so far have been male. "There is one girl who drops in after the competition on Tuesdays, but she doesn't compete," he says. "There are women usually hanging around watching though."

As of yet, there is no specific female skater category; it is all equal opportunity skateboarding. But if more girls start showing up with board in hand (or under feet), anything is possible. And the bar has actual prizes for the competition's winners: First place wins all the money collected from entry fees (yes, there is a minimal entry fee), second place wins a $50 bar tab and third place wins a $25 bar tab. Not bad for dropping a few grabs and nosegrinds.

Because the program is so new, the rules for winning aren't terribly stringent--not because it isn't a well-organized contest, rather it is that no tricks or moves or routines have yet been played out. Any skater can theoretically take home a prize, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, Harris says, "No in-line skaters [allowed]." Second, even though it's in a bar, competitors can't be drunk; in fact, they aren't supposed to be drinking at all. And that's made really difficult by the bar's skate-night drink specials: $2 domestic pitchers and $2 "You Call It" drinks, meaning two bucks for whatever drink you want.

"Nobody, like, falls down on the half-pipe, but sometimes we see some guy drinking in the corner when he shouldn't be," says Harris. "But c'mon, it's $2 pitchers!"

So whatever kind of grinding tickles your fancy, either the dancing kind or the skateboarding kind, there's something happening at the Loft that should sate your tastes. That just leaves Wednesday and Thursday night for other grinding activities to complete the Loft's Transformer image. The following options are still available: teeth grinding night, grinder sandwich night, belt grinder finishing night, and Napalm Death grindcore night.

Mondays, free skate, 9 p.m.; Tuesdays, free skate warm-up 9 p.m.-10 p.m., competition 10 p.m.-11:30 p.m., $5 entry-fee. The Loft, 622 W. Idaho St., 344-5223.