Words: Daryl Mersom / Illustration: Greg Conroy / Photos: Zhang Gee
This May I spent three weeks in Budapest, Hungary skating with the Rios Crew and exploring the city. Most days we went to the DIY and then headed into the hills. But one evening on a bus ride we noticed a brand new square outside a train station. We decided to come back the next day, and discovered a new style of skate stopper: the snail.
Snail skate stoppers are a bit like the doughy security guard who kicks you out in a reasonable manner: “sorry lads, but I’ll get it in the neck if these ledges are scratched up.” He doesn’t really want to be there at 9 in the evening; he’d rather be snuggled up with his wife and the paper. It is hard to refuse this kind of harmless instruction, you don’t want to feel like you’re being the idiot. So you take a few pictures, leave, and vow to come back another time.
We discovered the new style of skate stopper at Széll Kálmán tér in a number of forms. There were metal snails arranged on one ledge to prevent people skating over it; a metal wallet; a metal umbrella; and a metal skateboard. The snails, admittedly, are cute. At least they are trying to make prohibitive architecture look less draconian. You can imagine the myriad Instagram posts that will emanate from this very spot. The wallet too is funny – how many people will walk past and wonder if someone has lost their wallet, or even try to pick it up? But we felt that the skateboard was a step too far. Clearly, we thought, the designers are happy to appropriate the fleeky iconography of skateboarding, but with the proviso that skaters themselves are not welcome in the square