Here’s the story behind Pushing Boarders, the world’s first academic skateboarding conference, held in London at the Bartlett School of Architecture. We reached out to the organisers of the event to find out more…
Photos: Emil Agerkov
Firstly, congratulations on an incredibly inspiring event. How did the idea for the conference come into being?
Each of us – SkatePal, Re-verb & LLSB – were brewing up similar ideas to connect other people in our respective fields: Re-verb within academia, SkatePal in the skate charity sector, and LLSB as public space campaigners. So when Theo (from SkatePal) met Thom (from Re-verb) out skating one day, a collaboration just seemed like the obvious thing to do. So Pushing Boarders grew into a weekend long event connecting all these different worlds within skateboarding together for the first time.
How many people came through in the end? The turnout, and people’s appetite to both listen and engage, was really encouraging to see
Over 1700 people signed up for tickets across the weekend. But you never know in advance whether or not people will actually show up. Then we had about 350 people turn up to the launch party at House of Vans, and the momentum just grew from there. Every one of the talks throughout the weekend was totally full to capacity. So that’s 7 talks with around 160 people in each one – over 1000 people in total – squeezed into packed rooms listening and engaging. The energy was intense! It was also amazing to see the conversations carry on into the evening and immediately after the event.
“There is so much inspiring research and progression in skateboarding right now”
How did you decide on the themes for the panels?
We wanted to give platforms to people who are already working in these spaces and living the experiences that were addressed, so it was important to have for example Neftalie, Dani and Jilleen curate and chair their panels on issues around race and gender.
There is so much inspiring research and progression in skateboarding right now and we wanted to highlight some of the most exciting emerging voices. For the panels curated by the Pushing Boarders team, we spent a long time discussing which individuals and organisations would be most appropriate. At the end of the process, all the themes fell quite naturally into place and we were hyped with how the lineup turned out!
The panels weren’t exhaustive by any means, but they were a good start at trying to reflect the kinds of things already being debated and researched around skateboarding right now and showed that we can have an event like this again covering these kinds of topics and more, and people will come to them.