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.
Extreme sports videos don’t get enough credit as artistic travelogues. For all the flinch-inducing, jaw-dropping athletic skill on display, the real star of extreme sports videos is often not the stunt-happy main character – it’s the backdrop. Take for instance Danny Macaskill’s rampart-flipping, phone booth-hopping mountain bike riding on the Isle of Skye. The video’s fine-grained camera work and textured shots show off his native northern Scotland in a way that virtually eclipses the bicycle trickery going on in the foreground. Another great example is Ryan Doyle’s parkour video in Dubai. His rolls and gainers through souks and off bagdirs are OK and everything, sure, but it’s the backdrop that shines through.
So it is as well with skateboarder Killian Martin’s new video above. As the freestyler spins and caspers his way through India, the director, Brett Novak, manages to sell the subcontinental playground better than most Indian tourism campaigns I’ve seen. The takeaway is clear: if you work for a tourism board, hire a wingsuit diver, an artistic extreme sports director and an indie band, and watch the tourists stream in.
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.
Visualtraveling created this ten minute film piece titled ‘Holy Cow’ with footage from travels centered around skateboarding in South Asia. The documented journey took place over the course of a month. This video features, primarily, awesome shots of skateboarders boarding in cool places, doing neat things with their skateboards–the kinds of things I most certainly do not know how to do. The video also features non-skateboarding things. Stunning landscape shots, interesting architecture, bright colors, unique cars and other vehicles, and crowds of spectators complete this ‘skateboarding’ video which, like so many skateboarding videos, is equally functional as a travel video.
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.