When thinking about writing this piece I re-watched Ricky Oyola’s brilliant Epicly Later’d episode and the politics of sharing spots with others (besides close friends) is brought up in discussion; especially regarding Bobby Puleo’s similar take/approach on spots. Both, who have influenced me a lot over the years (Bobby’s INFMS section was one of the early uploads onto the new and fledgling YouTube – which I would often watch during IT lessons) and are established east coast figures who have made a stamp on what people think of when thinking of east coast skateboarding. Using new and idiosyncratic spots such as cellar doors – synonymous with Puleo’s body of work – or more replicable/accessible ones such as pole jams, the pair have over the years pushed a strong ethic of becoming part of a city’s environment as a transportational agent, more than a stuntman. Choosing to ignore other aspects of honing the size of ones balls jumping down stairs and rails or patience with technical skill. A powerful and simplistic form is a large part of their art, however again as discussed in the Epicly Later’d episode, a big part, or as Oyola says, the biggest part of his skating, is the spot or looking at a spot or something that someone would not have considered to be a spot and making it so: “For me I was never a trickster or out tricked you, I’m gonna look at things differently and present something to you, so basically if I go out there and find something that part of it, that’s part of the trick.” Admitting that a lot of people could “out-trick me and that’s okay,” shows his modesty in acknowledging that for a lot of skaters, there is a level of competition and he doesn’t take part in this – in a stuntman attitude – but rather bringing something new to you through the medium of a video part. In his Static 2 section there are clearly notable elements of him adapting one spot and theme of spot, through a pretty ghetto approach to DIY concrete additions to making it skateable. For many people when they make a DIY spot there’s a honeymoon period where only those involved in building it and a select few know where the spot is before it gradually becomes revealed to a wider local audience to enjoy. For Oyola, when he was done with these spots and had filmed what he wanted to on them he tore them up, which in many ways is a shame, however can be justified by Frankie “If you found a spot and took me there I would show you the same respect, with Rick and those guys, those were the guys that went and found hard shit to skate….Rick took the time to pour the cement.” Now, not to belittle some of my favourites as Oyola or Puleo for their attitudes (see fact 17) to spot sharing or cataloguing, I do think it is rather close minded to hold such views, but without individuals like them in skateboarding, it’d be pretty boring. There’s always got to be some balance. Luckily however not everyone seems to share this same attitude when it comes to sharing the knowledge of spots, which is must be pointed out are street spots, usually established and well known ones and not the kind of unique and tucked away ones that you see Oyola or Puelo skating so it makes a bit more sense in that regard. Demonstrated in this excellent clip of Ricky showing you one of Philly’s best spots, City Hall, shows that he’s not always going to keep a spot a secret either.
Ricky Oyola – Epicly Later’d
When talking about comprehensive spot sharing for a city, one must first think of the New York foundation and high-brow establishment of skateboarding that is Quartersnacks. I hold this website very dearly in my heart, not least because of the often nerdy and in depth references that go into most of their posts, counterweighted by a love for rap and anything flashy, but mostly because of their fascinated and incredibly informed output about New York skateboarding that can leave a nerdy British skater such as myself lusting for more. Every time one of their updates or posts features has at the bottom of it: ‘spot update’ I can’t help but have a look. I’ve never been to New York – as much as I would love to, and will do one day – so these updates are essentially irrelevant to me. However although this may be a sappy sentiment, which they may not be intending to fully relay, QS’s ‘spot updates’ show a level of care and attention to let their fellow New Yorkers at large keep up to date with the going’s on of the city’s skateable architecture. Now these updates are usually supported by photo evidence for the spot’s individual page on their expansive and organised spot list, that can show anyone from around the world the good spots to go to from Downtown to Queens and I applaud them for initially and continually doing so. Alongside pictures of each spot there can be found a description of it, a ‘bust factor’ rating out of five stars and even photos from magazines where the spot’s being skated. We love you QS.
Columbus Circle, NY (image via Quartersnacks)
Montreal based geniuses Dime have collated their city’s spots into a comprehensive and useful ‘Spotbook’ for any skater who wishes to visit Montreal and sample any of their incredible and delectable looking spots. The first time I found this page I literally trawled through every single one and was in awe at a lot of them and met by jealousy at most – Brighton has hills but not such a wide plethora of ‘downtown’ marble and glorious looking ledge spots that Montreal has to offer. In lineage with Quartersnacks, their blend of humour and amazing skating has led to them becoming famous with skaters the world over and rightly so. Their wares are pretty dope and they sure do know how to do a skate ‘comp’
Carl Labelle, Ollie – photo Félix Faucher (image via Dime)
Satori’s Hill bomb list is one of the lesser known spot sharing sites on this list and if you like hills then I urge you to check it out. They even link in google maps and directions of the routes!!! With Google Earth street view you can remotely and jealously sample the bomb along with some of the spots littered along the way on people’s drives and so on. When I make the pilgrimage to San Francisco I’ll be using this list to sample some of the finest and also gnarliest bombs in the city, can’t wait.
‘Sanger Sings/SKATE THIS!’ is the Crailtap contribution in which skaters from all over the world can submit photos of new or old spots, or designs from architecture and design websites – which by the way if you’re interested in this sort of thing designboom is a great one to check out for architecture – for what is essentially a list of ‘spot-porn’ the world over; and it’s fantastic.
(image via Crailtap)
The slap forum has a ‘travel/spots’ and pictures of spots section, dedicated entirely to its members helping people out who’re visiting places that don’t have the fortune of a QS or Dime listing and it’s great to see skaters helping out and even offering to link up when the person arrives in the place to have someone to skate with. The best ones I’ve seen on there have to be from Japan, which is number one on my places to visit and when I go I’ll be sure to make a slap account and ask some of the natives for some help on where to go. Osaka looks pretty inviting!
(image via Slap Magazine)
Skate Malmo is a website curated by the dedicated skaters of Swedish skate mecca Malmo. Malmo is home to Pontus Alv and crew, as many D.I.Y spots as you could through a stick at and Bryggeriet, probably the most enviable high-school the world over, that functions as a normal school but also has an incredible and immense skate park, complete with vert ramp, that the attendees get lessons and sessions on. The city is skateboarding obsessed and the skaters have kindly made a section of their website dedicated to cataloguing the city’s spots. You’ll find pictures of the spots and some of the gnarly tricks that have gone down on them, ranging from natural street architecture to all of their D.I.Y ones as well. The even give a ‘RIP’ next to the spot if it’s no longer around and it’s definitely worth a look.
Bryggeriet Malmö Skatepark (image via Skate Malmo)
Sk8m8 and other early incarnations of skatepark websites have been around for well over a decade and they still exist. Using google maps and other tools to give you direction to the spot, a rating of it and hopefully some pictures and insight into what the park is like are all useful tools for someone who’s visiting a place, bored of where they are and want to visit somewhere new or are planning a road trip. London Skateparks is a good example of a modern and updated version of the skatepark websites of yore and doesn’t require dial up internet, which is always a plus. However when thinking of spots, as fun as a skatepark can be and the real vibe and culture of the place (see Stockwell and its native BMT) can be amazing, it’s not quite the same as a street spot. You could always ask a member of the public on the street if they know where the skatepark is in the local area, but chances are if you ask them where that sick bank to curb that Brady skated in that clip is then they’re clueless.
Mile End (Images via London Skateparks)
We all know that in the last few years the introduction of smart phones and their potential has drastically changed the landscape of much of society in the developed world. It’s not uncommon to see a couple out for a ‘romantic’ meal sat across from each other at a table for two gawking into their phones, where their parents would have been having at least some form of conversation. Now although smart phones could cynically be the beginning of the demise of social interaction in the real world, they do have some redeeming factors. With the aforementioned skate spot websites being often outdated, (Quartersnack’s 10 year anniversary post the other day apologized tongue in cheek for not having updated the spots page for 5 years) some enterprising fellow from across the pond has gone and come up with a skate spot app (I’m sure there are many others to be honest though) called ‘Skate Savant’. It has the ingenious revenue generating ‘in-app’ ability to purchase maps of different cities, like Toronto for example. Now although this is a great idea and if I’m to visit any of these places while skating I’ll be sure to commit and buy a map, often things like this (bordering on social media) need to be taken aboard as a cultural and industrial standard to make it what Facebook is for social media that something like Bebo couldn’t. However the notion of having a specifically designed piece of software in your pocket while exploring a new place is pretty darn cool.
Published in 2001, Unabomber legend and possessor of ‘bastard pop’, Harry Bastard made a book of ‘Spots’ that showed many of the UK’s cities spots through his travels and endeavours to reveal them. Although I don’t own a copy of the book myself the reviews of it on Amazon about how useful and well put together it is and that it doesn’t have to be exclusively for skaters: ‘although I’m a bmxer it is extremely helpful’ (written in 2002). This comment written 12 years after its publication tells of how fragile the history of a skate spot can be ‘It’s old now and some places are long gone. It’s interesting to read and found it useful when I first skated in London when I was 14.’
Kenny Reed Static 2 Part
Videos are obviously one of the best mediums to see spots and companies like Ipath did some sick videos, especially with ex-rider Kenny Reed, who is renowned for his travels and exploration of countries that no one had been to before. There used to be zines showing backyard pools or vert ramps and places to go, far before the internet ever existed, but as sad as it is to admit, being a lover and supporter of printed material, it seems that the internet makes a lot of sense for being the best medium for effective ‘spot-sharing’. The closest thing to actual spot sharing in terms of video coverage would have to be Ride Channel’s ‘SKATE’ episodes, which are frankly the only worth watching on their channel, with local legends giving you a visual tour of their cities spots and culture. Enjoy finding and discovering new spots and if it’s something really good then I implore you to share it with the rest of us! I’ll be looking to do so myself. Now get out in those streets!
Words: Joe Coward