Inside Hong Kong’s tight-knit skate scene

Canto Pop Skate Exhibition

We go behind the scenes at member, skater and videographer Ollie Rodgers’ Canto Pop skate exhibition at Soho House Hong Kong

By Ollie Horne. Photography by Gemma Harrad and Billy Chan. Video by Ollie Rodgers and Alexander Yeadon.

2021 will be remembered by skateboarders everywhere for two things: the year skateboarding became an Olympic sport, and the year Ollie Rodgers kickflipped around the plush interiors of Soho House Hong Kong. The videographer and his skate collective built and installed a grind box in the House for an energetic indoor skate session as part of a weekend exhibition he curated to champion the city’s skate scene.

The event celebrated the launch of the third instalment of Rodgers’ film series, Canto Pop, where he and other members of the skate community seek out creative features around the city. The film was premiered over the weekend, alongside a portrait exhibition at the Soho Friends Sheung Wan Studio that featured those involved.

We caught up with Ollie Rodgers to hear how the show went, what the skate scene in Hong Kong is like, and what he’s up to with his independent publishing platform, Likewise.

Canto Pop Skate Exhibition
Canto Pop Skate Exhibition
Canto Pop Skate Exhibition

How did you first get into skating?
‘My friend had a board that I tried out when I was 10 and I got hooked pretty quick. I loved how creative you could be on a skateboard compared to the other sports I was playing at the time. It’s also a great way to see a city: you’re constantly surrounded by life when rolling around the streets.’
How would you characterise the skate scene in Hong Kong?
‘It’s small compared to other cities, but it’s growing quickly. Everyone is super friendly and there’s a strong community vibe. Even though we have a decent amount of skateparks, it’s cool to see a lot of people going out and filming in the streets more.’

Canto Pop Skate Exhibition

Could you tell us about Likewise – why you started it, and what kind of stories you like to tell? 
‘I cofounded Likewise with my partner over a year ago because we wanted an outlet for the videos we were creating, and full control over the style and direction of these pieces. There are so many interesting people within the Hong Kong creative scene, so it made sense to start our own platform and cover stories that we found interesting. I personally love street culture such as skateboarding and street art, and I wanted to showcase these subcultures to a wider audience. We also cover stories about musicians, food and local culture that may be fading away, and anyone who is pushing the limits of their craft.’

How did the Canto Pop skate exhibition go at Soho House Hong Kong last weekend?
‘It was incredible. Bringing the scene together in a new space and showcasing photography and merchandise created by my friends was very rewarding. The opening night on Friday was pretty much a two-floor party. People didn’t believe me when I told them we will skate inside Soho House. I had always wanted to host a skate session inside a fancy gallery space, so I’m glad it all worked out and nothing got broken.’

Canto Pop Skate Exhibition

How has the reception been for the Canto Pop #3 film?
‘People really loved the video. We’d been filming it for a year, and it’s definitely more difficult these days to hold onto footage for that time since everything tends to get released so quickly on social media. It was cool for everyone to see the video for the first time together in the same room. During the filming process, I really made an effort to include a diverse group of local and expat skaters, as well as hitting up more unique crusty spots around the city. I think it left a strong impact on the scene and hopefully inspires more skaters to get out and film in the streets.’
What were the highlights of the weekend exhibition?
‘Probably the live skate session, or the video screening. Hearing the crowd cheer after certain tricks went down during the premiere was a great feeling.’

Canto Pop Skate Exhibition
Canto Pop Skate Exhibition
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