FIRST OFF: I wanted this post to capture the gratitude I have towards everyone I've met in the past four weeks. I want to thank them for skating (Rufus reference!) and giving me a renewed interest in my photography and a project that I never had considered before. You are some of the coolest people I've met and I genuinely hope to keep in contact!
Keep skating; I'll keep photographing.
The day I arrived in Barcelona, I remember sitting on the metro across from two boys holding skateboards. I noted this to my friends but didn't think much more of it. Now, four weeks later, it seems appropriate that the first people I distinguished in Barcelona were part of a culture I spent so much time around.
Barcelona is, at least in the skateboarding community, widely regarded as the "skate capital of the world." No matter in which area of the city you are, there's bound to be a great skate spot (ledges, rails, stairs, banks, etc.). The Mecca of these spots? Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). To a non-skater, MACBA seems just like any other square. Search MACBA online, however, and you will come across a throng of skate videos filmed there. Apparently, whatever stone the tiles are made of is perfect for tricks. It simply has more pop. Hang out at MACBA on any given day and there's bound to be plenty of skateboarders. Unfortunately, there's also bound to be plenty of cops.
Skateboarding and police seem to go hand-in-hand. Well, maybe fist against fist. Skateboarding is technically illegal in BCN. Skateboarding carries a fine of up to 1500 euro and the cops and confiscate your board. While I've never witnessed anyone getting cited for skateboarding, I know that it happens. I'm still confused as to why it carries such a heavy penalty. Barca attracts skaters from across the world (I've met individuals from the US, France, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, England, and Ireland, to name a few). In my mind, the city should be promoting skateboarding. Not only does it attract tourism, but it's a fantastic sport. And it truly is a demanding sport. Before coming here, I figured skateboarding was more of a hobby for most people. I never really understood how much time goes into perfecting skills and landing tricks.
For example, I watched a British skater try to land a trick for three hours. In the middle, he fell face flat to the ground. He quickly got up, feeling his teeth to make sure that they were all there. He asked his friends and, assured that no teeth were missing, got back up and tried the trick again. To some, that may be a sign of insanity. To me, it's sheer dedication.
I've met some amazing people in this city. At first, I was worried about being "that weird girl that's always hanging around the spots with a giant backpack." While I may have been that girl (or maybe still am), I've felt extremely welcome in the community. Skateboarders tend to have a bad rep, which for the most part couldn't be further from the truth. Someone was always willing to point me in the direction of a new spot, or to smile for the camera, or work on a trick and let me snap some photos.
I would strongly encourage you to watch some skate videos, or to pay attention the next time you see someone practicing skateboarding, and just stop for a moment to admire the work and time that goes into it. If you REALLY want to appreciate it, try getting on a skateboard yourself. Trust me, it's a lot harder than it looks.
If you would like to see my full skate photo set, please visit my flickr.