Updated: Mar 16, 2019
I have never been to anything like it and I've had some pretty hot weekends...
So why am I telling you this?
*Save the date: 12-15th Sep
*Book a flight
What could possibly be more exciting, or satisfying than a long weekend in Barcelona in the September heat, roller skating with some of the most talented and welcoming skaters from across the globe?
There will be roller discos / promenade beach skating / street skating / workshops of all varieties. You can learn to Jam skate, Limbo, Roller Hoop and more. There will be performances / network events / stalls of food and drinks / skate merch to buy and plenty of sunshine. Besides what would you normally be doing between the 12th and 15th of September?
We'll be doing this ==================>
and if that doesn't wet your appetite -
...to find out what #PLAY TONE got up to at the Roller Discos, Skate Jams and Workshops on offer at #SkateLovebcn2018.
never been so
Let me set the scene for you...
#Skatelovebcn2018 is my first visit to an international skate festival. I'd been skating less than three months when I hear that the PLAY TONE crew are already booked to go….. I need a ticket - fast. A flight and somewhere to stay and before I know it...
Day 1: Friday Morning
I'm skating along the waters edge, shades on, sun, sea breeze, travelling in a pack of the PLAY TONE crew - It just doesn’t get any better than this. We skate down to the W hotel beach, maybe a 20 minute skate. I am by far the least experienced of our crew but I am more than ready. I'm the only one who is padded up to the max, but then it's my first ever proper street skate. I'm anxious / nervous about falling but mainly excited. Everyone else has already been out on the Thursday night, skating through the streets. @Craigjiggy is set up down in Badalona with skaters from near and far including London Hyde Park, Southampton, Leeds, Birmingham, Ireland, The Netherlands, Canada, America and Australia to name but a few. There is a whole weekend ahead of us. Its' just after lunch when we arrive at the W hotel to find a small group of skaters already going full pelt #skatejam so the only thing to do was join in!
#SkateLoveBcn felt like it spanned two specific areas of the city. The beach by the W hotel (above) and the beach in Badalona. With various programmed items like workshops in dance studios and at a skate park, a massive indoor roller disco and a day long beach party. You could also make the time for various sightseeing trips, meals and street skates in between. I asked some of the PLAY TONE team: Tinukes Orbit, ObiePearl (PLAY TONE FOUNDERS), Beth on wheels and Craig jiggy to sit down with me so we could piece together what we covered in those three glorious days. I will try to do the extravaganza justice and also tell you what I can about this inspirational skate festival.
How has it grown? What was different about this year?
Obie: The number of skaters participating has grown. Two - four years ago it was a small scale affair. Mostly we hung out on the beach by the W hotel. We had a DJ, a boombox and a jam. There wasn't a really formal programme. As the years have gone on it's bigger, more programmed, more people coming from different parts of the world - which has been absolutely incredible. A real festival vibe.
What makes it so special?
Tinuke: It's a support network. Everyone has space to grow, space to learn. We are all at different stages but everyone knows what it is like to be a learner and how hard that is. There is a mutual bond of having gone through that which makes everyone really supportive of learners. We all want to learn new stuff off each other and that vibe creates a family.
Beth: It just didn't matter whether you were
good or really very new. As long as you had wheels on your feet and a smile on your
face everyone was your friend...
Craig: … and there was so much different stuff happening. Skating isn’t just about skating. It's also about the creative side (JiggyCreationz promotes this!), people with their different wheels, different skates, I spent so much of my time mingling with all the creatives that the days blur.
Beth: It really opened my eyes to what is out there in terms of the skating world. So many different styles that I didn’t really know about, even the characters. Mark Angel the way he dresses himself, it's like he puts on a show all of the time. He had a different character on everyday and I found that really fascinating. Even though I come from the world of musical theatre, I'd never really thought of that before for my skating. I've been in this little bubble my whole life, of artistic skating. I've seen little bits here in London but going to Barcelona really broadened my horizons.
As a newbie skater, what made it special for me was the chance to build my confidence skating outdoors. Just continually wearing my skates all day / all night helped me to take a few risks whilst I learned to navigate spaces differently - on wheels...
Barcelona is made for wheels. Having spent Friday morning down at the beach and the afternoon skating at the top of the W hotel, trying stuff out as the sun beat down, it was time to try to get back down to the beach so Beth taught me how to slide down a hill backwards using my toe stops. A huge milestone for me. It really unlocked the city. Finally, I could go anywhere on wheels and feel safe and confident. I even decided to skate back across town to the apartment on my own! As much as I love skating in London, I don't feel all that safe on the roads and pavements. In Barcelona, everyone just accepts that you are skating, in shops, on transport, no one bats an eye. Its just one big playground!
What where the highlights of the whole event?
Beth: The best moments for me were in the roller disco on the Friday night. It was the most incredible evening I have ever witnessed. (Bearing in mind I have been skating since I was six!) To be in a room with so much diversity of skating and so much talent, I felt like a kid in a candy shop! You could be unique - just be yourself. You didn’t have to be the same as the next person. Learning from the best skaters from all around the globe - You cant get much better than that. For someone who is passionate - you know - skating is their life, to be in a situation like that it was just the best thing.
Tinuke did a solo....
Tinuke: I did many solos in the middle of the floor. The Roller Disco was insane. Everyone wearing their skating Sunday best. Dressing good / feeling good / coming in with a splash - making a good impression.
Obie: It was epic. People bought their costume/fashion game - there were some amazing outfits and some awesome solo jams. Across the whole weekend, there is just so much variety from jam dancing to a very American specific kind of line dance with specific steps which repeat - do / repeat / do and then change it up, with different variations.
Tinuke: There was an artistic skater - the world champion - he was incredible and the whole roller disco made a massive circle round the edges and he just did his thing my breath was taken away. That really inspired me.
Craig: For me its crowd participation stuff where everybody is dancing altogether rather than the singular performances. I like the social thing, where everybody just joins in.
Beth: I loved the line dances where you just have to pick it up in the moment. I trained as a professional dancer and one of my weaknesses at college was that I had no confidence. I was always at the back of the class, I failed to pick things up quickly, so when I was in Barcelona I wanted to push myself, get myself to the front, right next to the teacher, learning directly from them.
What is it about #skatelovebcn that made you feel you could be confident and forward about getting what you wanted to get out of the weekend?
Beth: You felt like you could just approach anyone and start joining in, learning their choreography. Then you could just move on to another group. Everyone welcomed you. People took the time to teach you. It is the most inclusive community of people that I've ever been apart of. That is what made me love it.
It was difficult for me to decide what my favourite event was. After the roller disco, I woke up early all set for Day 2: Saturday morning and headed over to the skate park to watch @indyjammerjones teach. Then they put on a coach to take us across town to the beach party and that meant having to do an impromptu street skate with some Derby skaters I'd met. This time with less padding on me and my new found confidence going down hills on my toe stops. I was starting to feel like I knew what I was doing. Then we arrived in Badalona and that's what took my breath away. Gliding down the boardwalk on smooth as glass concrete past dance routines, food stalls, a graffiti artist, everywhere a sea of people all on wheels, all smiling, all sharing. My new found international skate family really know how to party and put on a show. I joined in the Roller Hoop workshop, and ended up practicing that for much of the afternoon.
What specific events did Play Tone get involved with?
Obie: We always teach with Mawra the Amazing and her troupe Majorettes. She has a world record for Roller Hooping, 3/4 hoop splits - on her high heeled roller skates. So lots of people see that and want to try. The roller hoop workshops are always so funny we always have a good soul train happening and lots of people laughing and throwing hoops around.
Tinuke: We did a little bit of a impromptu Play Tone #Rollerhoop performance in the show section. Everyone was supportive and the show went really well. Great vibe. Great energy.
Workshops / Networking
I also tried to learn to spin London Flowstyle in the @we_the_nc workshop. They were teaching this year for the first time and now Isharyah (@stormskater) is a regular #skatedance teacher for Play Tone, in our London studios.
Beth: Trying their techniques, trying new ways of doing spins. It's a different style of skating and its helped to broaden my skill set.
There was so much talent everywhere and I wanted to join in but some of the steps were just to advanced for me. I joined a group of skaters who were practicing with Mel @Rollergirlgang just doing the beginning steps of a routine. It was really cool. It feels like there is room for more of those basic level dance workshops for those of us who are still finding our 'skate legs 'in a dance context...
Tinuke: Yes, We would really love to do a Play Tone class as part of the festival next year. We did see a lot of workshops that were too advanced for newer skaters, but there are tonnes of newbies and a lot of Derby skaters who want to jam. So there really is room for a beginners and midway addition to the workshop programme. Play Tone could really fill that. /// I hadn't met the @rollagirlgang - Len and Mel before, that was really sweet to meet them. We also met up with lots of female led social media people/ influencers who we speak with on line but hadn't met face to face. So many great skate ladies!!
Craig: I'd already met @Rollergirlgang at #RollOnLondon which was the first time we met but they already knew me from Instagram so it was good to see them out. It was great to meet the guys from Skate Malawi for the first time, got to hear some more about the work that they're doing.
Tinuke: Meeting Skate Malawi was great because they are doing a roller disco in Malawi next year and we are hoping that Play Tone will do some classes with them, so it was really great to meet them in person and talk about our community/ creative ideas face to face.
Craig: We even arranged a little surprise reunion with Abbie Roadkill of #rollerstuff. We brought all the #skatemonsters together from London and Ireland and got a nice little family photo /// Having everybody on the skate scene all in one place, at one time, from all over the globe - I try to connect with all of the people that I don’t see all the time. This year there was a lot of new faces. I was mingling with people from all over because for me that is what Barcelona is all about.
And when we weren't skating, networking, eating, drinking or chilling...there was always time for shopping (all on wheels of course!)
Now I'm not adverse to a bit of shopping and my #skatelovehaul was pretty exciting. By the time I left Barcelona I had done my bit to sponsor some really exciting female led skate companies.
* Holographic skate-leash
* Pink and teal double shoulder skate carrier
* Pastel blue Planet Rollerskate T-shirt
* White/Pink 'Skate like a Girl' T-shirt
* Cropped Pink Rollerhoop T-shirt
* Leopard print hot pants
From Leeds based @rollergirlgang:
*Yellow tote bag and a bunch of stickers
for my skate helmet.
From America - @itsmyskatenight:
Dope skate badges, tees and jewellery!
This meant that when I headed down to the skatepark on the Sunday, for my very first attempt at what I had hoped to be #droppingin to a bowl, I may not have felt the part but I damn well looked it.
The parties went on long into the night. Even after the official event was over and certainly long after I'd gone home to bed.