Anyone who can Ollie on flat could tell you that Barcelona has the highest concentration of paradise skate spots anywhere in the world.
But it wasn’t always this way. Most skaters of a certain age will tell you that prior to 1992, the city and in particular the Raval district in which the centrepiece MACBA museum lies, could charitably described as ‘vibrant’, which is a byword for sketchy as all hell.
Then the Olympics came to town in 1992 and those in charge used the spectacle to kickstart a civic regeneration project that transformed Barcelona into one of the world’s most architecturally fascinating cities.
That, in turn, started a skateboarding revolution. As FTC skateshop owner Julio Arnau points out in our Greetings from Barcelona video above, the city quickly became a bohemian draw for skaters, in what many consider to be the city’s golden period of skateboarding creativity and exploration.
A lot of cities that undergo such a transformation go on to experience a window of perhaps five years in which they become inexorably hip. After that the combination of affordable living and agreeable lifestyle attracts international youth tribes, and skateboarding in Barcelona early in the new millenium was no different.
The influential American skateboard business soon realised Barcelona offered endless architecture and scope for producing footage without encountering a police presence on every corner and pretty much de-camped there en masse. Before long, the city began to look like a film set for a dozen different skateboard productions at any one time.
Inevitably, this brought every mind-blown devotee toward the city in their wake, keen to emulate their heroes. Then it got too crazy. Too much disrespectful behaviour put skating on the city's radar and the police became heavy-handed.
Today, much of that heat has gone from the city. Berlin caught the eye of of the groovy gang and the Barcelona skate scene returned to a more real and sustainable level. There will always be an international skate contingent in Barcelona: it’s a great place to be if you don’t have anywhere better to go, particularly for Latin American Spanish-speaking skaters who integrate into the culture and lifestyle quickly.
But to really get the sense of the place from the ground up, and to see where the early markers were put down and Spanish skate legends made before the rest of us even knew, you have to listen to the people who were there and learn from them.
Much love to the skaters of Barcelona that helped us put together this ode to skating’s eternal city. And don’t forget to enjoy some of Gaston Francisco’s photographs of notable visitors who have left their mark on the city over the years! Big ups, one and all.