[vimeo 70666445 w=439 h=247] http://vimeo.com/70666445 For the first New Balance numeric video the team focused on the home of cinema and celebrity, Los Angeles, California.
They searched the spaces between the glamour, the fortune and the broken promises.…
How “skateboarding” can go wrong today, from the perspective of a skateboarder in Hong Kong.
waving flags & walking around town as if in a protest rally is not celebrating “go skateboarding day”
I love skateboarding. Above all this is why I am writing this. I have done so for almost a decade and since moving to Hong Kong I have seen it evolve from a great sport with a flourishing community to a split community where some people will not even skate when certain people are around for fear of judgment.
My love for the sport is not just the sport itself but for the people within the community that make the sport what it is. Regardless of where you are in the world if you have your board in hand and see another person with the same, you instantly have a friend. Even with a language barrier, (I have relocated from the UK to Hong Kong) I have found it very easy to make friends and get to know people I would otherwise have no way of communicating with.
Having now been here almost a year Go Skateboarding Day was approaching and advertising had already begun with our local skate stores. I had seen many adverts through both social media and word of mouth. I thought nothing of until closer to the day. Only a week in advance of Go Skateboarding Day a new advert appeared on my Facebook feed which was shared by a friend stating that there was going to be another go skate day a week after the official Go Skateboarding Day and was also titled the same. It was unclear as to their intentions at this time, however I decided that two days are better than one.
The first Go Skateboarding Day event went down very well, and although the rain did hinder the start the remainder of the day went perfectly. There were a multitude of competitions and pizza and I really felt that although not everyone can win something, no one left empty handed. I saw no unhappy faces and heard no complaints. There were a number of banners posted around which included sponsor names including both stores.The MC for the event gave shout outs to both stores & sponsors of the event. I found this odd as no one from one of the stores had attended the event as far as I could see, nor did they do any advertisement. I was unsure to their involvement but had expected to see something on their part, at least in attendance.
The following weekend I also attended the second Go Skateboarding Day event, organised by one of the stores. This was supposed to begin at 12pm. Upon our arrival we waited at a “No skateboarding” policed area to await the arrival of the events organizers. A strange meet location I thought, as it is a well-known area for skateboarding, and yet is heavily policed. Naturally as you would expect some children were skating around doing their warm up tricks no doubt for the competitions ahead, which is when police arrived and told everyone they had to stop skating. This was met with a large crowd of skateboarders surrounding these two police officers and doing nothing but intimidating the pair. Although I have done this in my younger years of skateboarding I now see that this is certainly not the way to earn the respect that skateboarders believe they deserve from authority. Luckily the organizers of the event arrived (30 minutes late) and settled the arguments by telling the skaters we were now moving out.
We believed we were headed to a nearby coach to take us to the first spot or park only to learn we now had to skate 30 minutes down the harbor front to a bus station for a coach to collect us and take us somewhere… hopefully a spot or skatepark. The time is now almost 1:30pm and we are now being told we have to get together to take photos. Myself and friends were less than impressed with the massive skate down the harbor front (which was filled with people walking in both directions) so we decided we did not want to take part in the photo. By 2pm we were then told to walk a further 15 minutes to board the coach in order to “get to the first spot”.
3pm arrives and we finally get to the “spot” they have been talking about. The spot consists of brick cobbled flooring and nothing but a beautiful view of the sea. I am one of the last off the coach and see what looks like 50 skateboarders skating on a horrid cobbled floor doing nothing but flat land when we hear that we now have to take more group photos. Again we are to irritated at the position we have been put in to pose for photos. We even attempted to get a cab back to the local indoor skate park, however we were by the side of the motorway and were unable to wave one down.
30 minutes later after all the photos are done, they say we must now skate to a spot not far from our current location. So we begin our skate not knowing this next “spot” was in fact another coach that happened to be over a mile (!) away that would then take us to Fanling skate park! This was absolutely outrageous! Why should we need to be lied to, and have to now leave a coach which we are right next to, in order to skate over a mile in the blazing heat with backpacks full of camera equipment and skate gear in order to reach ANOTHER coach?!Sadly it would appear we had almost no choice given that we did not know where we were or where to catch the closest taxi. We followed the crowd waving their flags on the journey that seemed to last forever in the 30 degree sun which took us down small back alleys and down a narrow cycle path, filled with bicycles with adults and small children. One of the skateboarders even knocked someone off their bicycle for which there was no apology and a child left crying in pain.
We arrived at the coach where we had simply had enough. We told the organizers that we were leaving and exactly why we were doing so. This was advertised as a “Go Skateboarding Day” and was clearly not. We all felt that this day had one purpose and one purpose only. To ensure that their day LOOKED better than the original Go Skateboarding Day. The sad thing is they had every opportunity to MAKE it a better day by organizing it correctly, and arranging fun skateboarding! Not poor photo opportunities. I had always believed that Go Skateboarding Day was an event for the community, to show numbers and show that we are not how people perceive skateboarders (as hooligans or misfits). That the sport has evolved into a more mainstream light, and that we can all come together and enjoy what we all love. There was no skateboarding between the point of meeting up at 12pm until at least 4pm when we left.
That evening I had spoken to some of my friends who had happened to be at Fanling skate park all day before the coach arrived and was told that they were what I can only describe as evicted from the park and were unable to actually skate because the organizer wanted yet more photo opportunities in the center of the park. I was actually told this prior to my even mentioning the monstrosity that the event turned out to be. I felt so sorry for some of the children there that only wanted to skate but had no means to do so because of this. This is certainly not what I would call a “Go Skateboarding Day”
The organizer’s final insult was to throw out a huge amount of free product. Yes, when you are young a free board or pair of shoes is a big deal. But in my view these were not free product to grateful children. It was in fact an easy way to bribe the people to say that the day was good. After all, what skaters do you know that will say no to a free board or pair of shoes? The younger generations still do not see this as anything more than free product when it is in fact nothing more than mere bribery. Had any one of my friends who I had been with that day been offered a free board or shoes I am very confident they would decline the offer on principle.
In the end after leaving, we went to the only indoor park in Hong Kong, and had a great skate as most people were at the event we had the park to ourselves the whole afternoon. We had all wished we had gone straight there…
Following the events of the second Go Skateboarding Day, I also attended a Nike event of which was also being hosted by the same people. Sadly the same organizers was also hosting this event and decided that I clearly was not welcome and proceeded to be unfriendly towards myself. This is most likely because we told him how we felt about his Skate Day. We were in no way rude or discourteous, only giving him constructive feedback however he appeared to take this to heart as he still felt the need to glare at me throughout the time I had been there, and even allow my board to roll by him at speed when he could have easily have stopped it as any friendly skater would. Our group promptly left as he and his “crew” were clearly going to be judged unfairly against us in any competition held on the day as he was also supposed to be judging this event.
I sincerely hope that the organizers will learn from the massive mistakes they have made with their Go Skateboarding Day, and will take on board the feedback we gave them. After all, we all have one love.
Now, after reading the above, watch the video of this day here
*note, it took almost 4 hours to get the first 35 seconds footage.
What was all of this for? To actually celebrate skateboarding, or was this a big photo opp for the organizers / sponsors?
You be the judge.