The nighttime emptiness of London’s busy streets is perfect for skateboarding and serves as Houston Parke’s (’15) cure for restless sleep.
“The fact that if it’s midnight on a weekday and I can’t sleep, I can grab my skateboard and go out on Exhibition Road and just skate, is a great feeling… Late at night there will be no one on the street, and it’s really relaxing,” Parke said.
Parke started skating five years ago and has always found it to be a great way to wind down and have a good time.
Skateboarding’s carefree and social environment has attracted many new skaters looking for a way to relax and clear their minds. The sport has recently gained popularity within ASL, with many students drawn to the casual skater lifestyle.
Jordan Koski (’18) believes that skateboarding is easy to pick up and is very creative, with endless tricks and styles. “I got into skateboarding because I loved watching all the tricks that my friends were doing, so I thought that it would be fun to learn some of those tricks,” Koski said.
Now, six months after having started skateboarding, Koski has a passion for the sport and has even created his own Facebook skating blog, Halfpipe London Extra, with Kian Tadjbakhsh (’18) and Alex Veselinski (’18). On his blog, Koski posts videos of himself, as well as other skateboarders learning new tricks.
Koski uses his own blog for inspiration on more tricks he can do. He hopes that this blog also gives inspiration to other skaters in the ASL community and London.
While the opportunities to progress as a skateboarder remain unbounded, Koski mentions the limited availability of skating time in London, especially during the winter season, as being a barrier. “The time-frame of [light] is so slim that you have such a small time to actually skateboard, because it gets dark by 5 p.m.,” Koski said.
Tadjbakhsh also finds London’s weather an obstacle as he believes the rain to be a constant source of interference. Tadjbakhsh, who started skating while living in France, admits that he has not been able to skate as much due to the wet roads.
Although the restricted lighting and poor weather conditions in London pose considerable challenges to the skateboarding community, Koski and Tadjbakhsh still find London to be a great skate city compared to other cities they have skated in.
Veselinski, who has lived and skated in Moscow, believes that the skate community is much bigger in London and that although street skating is hard in the city, there are good parks to skate in. “The community is really good here, a lot of people skate and they are really friendly,” Veselinski said.
“It’s very nice to have so many community obstacles that you can use to skate. There are also so many spots and parks to skate throughout London with lots of rails and stairs to practice on,” Koski said.
Alternatively, Parke enjoys skateboarding, not for the tricks, but for the peace of mind that accompanies the sport. Parke originally started skating so he could get to school faster. “It was really convenient for me because my old school was 15 minutes away by walking, whereas with my skateboard it took five minutes,” Parke said.
What initially began as a method of reaching school has since been converted into a more fervent passion and part-time hobby. Parke also believes that the sport contains a more spiritual component too. “Skateboarding gives me peace of mind at night,” Parke said.
Similar to Veselinski, Parke believes that there is a big skating community in London, but not specifically at ASL. He believes it is hard to bring the school’s skaters together without a club and that making a club could potentially pose to be a challenge. “There isn’t really a skateboarding club at ASL because of all the safety regulations,” Parke said.
Even though Parke sees obstacles to setting up a skateboarding, he maintains the benefits a skating club could offer. “It would be great to see a skate group form at ASL, it would help get people together with common interests and everyone would improve,” Parke said.