A spotlight on Hong Kong’s secret skateboard scene
Like a halfpipe’s perfectly curved piece of ply, the city doesn’t so much evolve as undulate, as the skaters who traverse the island know better than anyone else
Saturday 8 October 2022 By Ollie Rogers Photography by Jonathan Mehring and Ollie Rodgers
Like the feeling of a halfpipe’s perfectly curved piece of ply, Hong Kong’s metropolis doesn’t so much evolve as undulate. As skateboarders, we see the streets through our own unique lens: always observing the way spaces change and the potential that may arise when new additions mushroom.
Little things catch your eye, like a nicely positioned bench, a crusty cement ramp or a perfectly sized bush for one to huck themselves over. The streets of Hong Kong are gritty and rugged in a beautiful way. A blend of traditional and modern elements divided into three regions and 18 districts.
The skate community here is something that has kept me in Hong Kong for a long time. There’s a tight-knit, family-friendly vibe among skaters and the other heads within the creative scene. The local skate clothing brand Victoria is run by some good friends here and they sponsor a few talented skaters, including Alexander Glavatsky-Yeadon, Boris Yu and Mikey Silva.
During the height of Covid, when skateparks were closed and nightlife was at a halt, you always knew there would be someone bringing an obstacle down to the waterfront for a Friday night skate session. Everybody supports one another and are encouraging when beginners decide to pick up a board.
Over the past few years, the fast-paced mentality of Hong Kong life slowed down. There were fewer tourists and smaller groups of people out and about. This made it easier to cruise around and film video clips. Being stuck here due to the lengthy quarantine on return from travelling allowed us to explore the many districts Hong Kong has to offer.
We took trips out to different islands and villages on the outskirts, such as Mui Wo and Sai Kung, finding many hidden gems. Having a crew of friends who were motivated to film and explore on the weekends was comforting.
In early 2022, a new public space on HK Island opened up called the East Coast Park. It has since had a great response from the community and, I have to say, it’s now my favourite spot to skate. The large, open space welcomes anyone looking to work out, walk their dog, skate, dance, picnic or simply soak up some sunlight.
Located at the start of the Eastern District near Tin Hau, there are stunning Harbourside views and a lovely breeze – a real tonic against Hong Kong’s sticky humidity. I’m going to walk (or skate) you through a route from Soho House Hong Kong over to the new East Coast Park. It’s around an hour-long trip, or shorter if you’re on wheels, complemented with stimulating sights along the way and a surreal sunset spot at the end.
Starting your journey from the House, head east, away from Sheung Wan and towards Central, until you find a footbridge that will lead you over the highway and out onto the waterfront path. The incredible thing about this route is that you can pretty much follow the water from Central Ferry Pier all the way over to East Coast Park without having to divert too far back into the city. This provides a lovely stroll, run or skate while taking in the views.
Look up and admire the IFC building as you pass, or peer across the water at the new M+ art museum. The harbour is a melting pot of sorts. You’ll see all types of boats, from yachts to traditional Chinese junks. There’s something special about being by the water in such an urban environment; it brings a sense of calm and escape that one longs for when stuck in the hustle and bustle.
After passing the Ferris wheel and the newly extended Tamar Park in Admiralty, you’ll find a lot of grassy areas. You may notice they even recreated Teletubby land with some unusual rounded hills and tunnels. Children and dogs run wild here. You’ll see many dogs, maybe a Shar-Pei-mix rescue, or a tiny Chihuahua being pushed in a pram; people tend to treat their small dogs like children in this part of the world. You may also find women dancing and singing karaoke.
Keep gliding around the Convention Centre and you’ll come across a new paddle-boating service, which could be a fun activity to try with a friend. Follow the path all the way to the East Coast Park. Grab a classic Tsingtao beer from a nearby store and catch the sunset by the water. I’d suggest exploring the space and watching the skaters shred. You’ll see people of all ages, genders and backgrounds coming together to chat and ride around here. As the day fades to night and the city skyline lights up, the vibe is always right at East Coast Park. All you need now is to grab a board…
Ollie Rodgers is a member of Soho House Hong Kong and the cofounder of independent publishing platform Likewise.