A famous skate park on the South Bank of London may be turned into yet another stretch of retail sameness.
Underneath the Southbank Centre, which is home to several performing arts centers, is a covered area that looks like a cross between a cellar and an overly graffittied parking lot. It’s been a meeting ground for skateboarders for 40 years. Every day you can see them doing tricks on the concrete ramps and benches while tourists and locals stop to watch and take photos.
Now the Southbank Centre wants to use the skate park as retail space to fund its new Festival Wing. It’s offered to turn an area under a nearby bridge over to the skateboarders, but the local skateboarding community has rejected this, saying the new place wouldn’t have the same history or sense of tradition. They’ve started the Long Live Southbank movement and launched an online petition to save the skate park that’s garnered more than 38,000 signatures. They’ve also filed a request to the government to make it a protected community space.
While I’m not a skateboarder and am only in London part of the year, I’d be sad to see this place go. I’ve always enjoyed strolling along the South Bank. There’s an open, lively feel to it that you don’t get in most parts of the city, and the skate park is a big part of that. I always stop to watch the skateboarders do their thing. It’s obvious that this place is important to them in a way that it isn’t to me, and I don’t want their community to lose it.
Skateboarding in Shanghai must be a great way to see the city. With wind in your face and chance looming all around you, there’s got to be something distinctly exhilarating about skateboarding through a foreign city; experiencing a new culture in a twisting and turning flash. I’m not a skateboarder myself, so I don’t know for sure, but this is how it seems to me. I suffered from severe skateboarder envy in middle and high school. That was partnered with my crush on the collective “alternative” hairstyles of skateboarders everywhere. My first attempt at skateboarding threw me, terrified, down a steep hill in rural Ohio. I’m not sure what I was so afraid of hitting amid all of the wide-open space there, but I dove off of the board and onto the steaming summer asphalt, wondering just how skateboarders did it as I limped back home. I tried a few more times over the years and eventually lost interest (read: gave up). Skateboarding videos stuck with me, though. I quickly learned then and still believe now that these videos offer viewers a unique and interesting opportunity to experience a destination through film. This video, created by Charles Lanceplaine and featuring skateboarding throughout Shanghai, is a good example of what I mean. Enjoy.
I just saw beautiful images of Bangkok in a, what turned out to be, surprising skate video. BillabongASIA’s Geng Jakkarin is profiled in this video titled “I Skate Because”. And while Jakkarin’s story is moving and his skate tricks are, well, sick, I couldn’t help but fixate on the Bangkok sights and scenes within the short film. The video starts off with a shot of a painted train over a track that states, ‘Bangkok, City of Life’, and the self-described vivacious city’s stunning scenery unfolds in the background of this video from there. Storm clouds, graffiti, Palm Trees, and the sun setting on the water-fronted horizon act as a backdrop to slick skate moves and a the personal story of just one exceptionally talented skater from Thailand. But sometimes this is the way I like to see things–to experience them in my periphery, to imprint them subconsciously as the forefront demands my attention, as I drift away from the main point and toward the buzzing beautiful background.
The life of a professional skateboarder could make anyone jealous, but now there’s one more reason to consider leaving that office job and running off with your deck. A few intrepid fellas from the Midwest are currently sailing down the great Mississippi river in a customized barge with a skate park built onto the top surface. Making stops along the backbone of the river and in snapshots of the United States, the team is visiting communities, promoting engagement and living the life of Huck Finn from Mark Twain’s infamous book.
Had Gadling Labs learned about this project earlier we would have sent our resident skateboarder, no other than Heather Poole, over to dish with the guys and get some behind the scenes footage. Sadly, since the cruise is almost over we may not have the time.
If you want to catch the tail end of the journey, however, the Mississippi Grind pulls into New Orleans on the 8th of October. You can check the full schedule over on their site.
Skateboarders get a bad rap: they travel in packs of (usually) teenage boys, gravitate towards public buildings and spaces, and redefine the word “loiter.” But this shot by Flickr user aaroncolorado taken in Panama City, Panama is graceful, almost balletic. No doubt the no-goodniks were promptly chased away from their hangout spot, but looks like they had a good afternoon skating.