With my trusty fella Ian, my Diana F+ and a Fisheye in tow we headed to the St Johns skate park in Tunbridge Wells one Saturday in the hope of finding some skateboarders who wouldn't mind us taking a few snaps and giving us an insight into the skate scene in RTW.
On arriving at the skate park, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit intimidated and the thought of approaching a group of skaters and striking up conversation seemed far more daunting than I expected, after all what do I know about skateboarding? As it turned out I had no reason to feel that way and when asked if we could take some shots for the article they didn’t hesitate to show us what they could do. There were about 6 guys at the park, each of them incredibly talented and it quickly became evident that skateboarding requires a huge amount of determination and passion and it appeared that each of the guys possessed just that.
Although I’ve never stepped on a board for fear of breaking a limb, sitting at the park, it was easy to pick up on the laid back atmosphere. There was a strong sense of determination with skaters trying over and over to master a trick or jump that to my amateur eyes already looked perfect. I loved the sense of community you felt there and how a successful jump or trick was recognised with clapping around the park, no scrutiny or competition just everyone pushing each other in encouragement.
I found there was even more to the skate scene when I came across a blog dedicated to skating in Tunbridge Wells and got the chance to ask blogger Luke a few questions about the blog and how he felt about the RTW scene.
Luke has been skating for around 10 years and, like most I’m sure, got into skating having felt inspired by skater Tony Hawk. I asked Luke a few questions about the RTW scene and the blog he runs, which he set up after finding there was nowhere online specific to skating in Tunbridge Wells, he said “with such a flourishing scene and a lot of things being done down the park it was a shame to not see them documented”, “I think it is good to get it out there and show what is happening”. Although the blog is still very young it has already attracted a lot of attention and Luke posts almost everyday with new videos of skating which he films himself. “Its rare that you will go down the park and not see somebody trying something new, so it is always good to document the progression”.
The enthusiasm both at the park and on the blog reflect the tight knit group of skaters Tunbridge Wells has and its hard to believe fellow locals could criticise them. When asked about whether there was a preconception of skateboarding in Tunbridge Wells Luke said “No matter where you go skateboarding, you will always get those people that are anti skateboarding, asking you the usual questions ’aren’t you too old for that?’ but at the same time you get a lot of people who appreciate it. At the end of the day we are just out having fun and could be doing something a lot less constructive if we weren’t out skateboarding” Whether you like skateboarding or not, these guys are a friendly bunch of people doing something they not only care about but are good at.
Talking to Oli at the park it became clear he too had experienced local criticism but told me the best thing to do in those situations was to step off your board and start talking to people. No back chat, these guys would rather be making their next jump or filming what they can do to share online. A good example of this being the Pear Shaped video posted in February this year, with over half an hour of footage, it’s a great representation of the talent these guys have and the fun they have along the way. (Check it out here!)
Little did I know about the Tunbridge Wells skate scene but as it turns out you just have to know where to look. Happy Go Skateboarding Day!