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.


Laurie said...

Eki, these are so wonderful. I really love all of your street shots but these might be my favorite.

I watched skateboarders a lot when I lived in Venice Beach, California. Did you ever see the documentary Lords of Dogtown? It's about the famous early skateboarders known as the Z-boys. They made a film out of it but I think the documentary is more interesting.

Keep up this exceptional work!

Mahardhika Zifana said...

Well Mr Eki...There are very wonderful pictures here. Apa boleh saya unduh beberapa di antara foto bapak?

Dina said...

Very effective photos, they do something to me (not sure what, but something...).
I never knew the history of skateboarding. The mother in me always worries when I see boys doing those tricks. Was surprised to discover a big skateboarding area in a big park in Jerusalem, but no one was there.

The answer to your wise comment now appears on my Aug. 24 post.

Dina said...

Thanks for your birthday wishes to Edo and for your empathy too. I just answered your question on my post. Hope you can take a look.

Meead S. said...

Nice shots! Western style.

omami said...

cool!!love your photo in action!!

Kelly said...

Lovely shots! You captured the action and the attitudes very expertly!

Geneva is about an hour from Chicago, more or less. From Walla Walla, I am not sure : )

Anwar Sadad said...

I always like your shot as well as these ones. I dont theoritically understand photography things. However, these youngesters have made new economic opportunities. They found their own community, they create their own trends, and they supply their own style. Now in Bandung there are hundreds of this kind of clubs and hundreds of outlets as well, like 18th Park. Opportunist yet creative youngesters.