Wednesday, August 27, 2008
City of People: Bandung Skateboarders
Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan
Did you know that during its earliest development skateboarding used to be called "sidewalk surfing"?
It did. And that nick name had to do with its origin. It is said that the idea of skateboarding was born when some Californian surfers could not go surfing because the wind was flat and there were no waves; hence was the idea to "surf" on land. That was in the late 1940's.
Now skateboarding has become a worldwide phenomenon, a kind of sport and recreational activity loved by young people from nearly every corner of the world. I have to underline the word "young" because survey statistics shows that 85 percent of its fans are young people under the age of 18. It is also characteristically a male sport (or recreational activity) as nearly three quarters of its practitioners are male.
Skateboarders used to be described as a rebellious subculture group whose image was associated with punk and a reckless lifestyle. This image, however, has changed now as its fans have become more diverse.
I took the above photos at a recent skateboarding exhibition on Braga Steet where this group of Bandung skateboarders - experienced as well as novice - demonstrated their ability to make different acrobatic tricks. Skateboarders have different terms for the different tricks they perform, such as "Ollie" (or no hand aerial) where the skateboarder "flies" in the air without holding on to the board; "kickflip" (or "heelflip"?) where the skateboarder kicks the board so that it flips 380 degrees along the board's long axis; and "pop-shove it" where the skateboarder plays with the skateboard while skateboarding. I'm sure they have a few other tricks, but that's all I can remember.
I have to admit here that it was quite difficult to take photos of their actions because the street was packed with spectators and there were no lines that separated them from the action. Street and action photography do have their own challenges. However, it is from events like this that I learn to hone my street and action photography skills.