The Scene: Copenhagen with Hjalte Halberg, Jonas Skrøder and more.
From Dirt Issue 119 - November 2013
Copenhagen is an old and beautiful city, which dates back to the year 700 A.D. where a small fishing village was established in what is the city centre today. In the 13th century the village became the richest in Denmark, which it still remains today. It is now home of approximately 1.2 million people and apparently becoming quite hot in skateboarding in recent years.
Copenhagen is largely built upon cobblestone roads which are deeply rooted within traditional Danish architecture and a general pain for skateboarding, so for a long time there weren’t too many spots to be found around the city. Skaters would generally spend their time around the now almost landmark skate spots of Jarmers Plads and Fælledparken.
Since Jarmers Plads’ construction in 1997, it has been a big part of the scene in Copenhagen, possibly comparable to what Southbank is for London or Sants is for Barcelona. The spot has not only been a benchmark for where the standards of Danish ledge skating can be seen as having been set and measured. Located in the city centre, but still relatively isolated from the traffic of the general public, the spot has also been an important meeting point for skaters and a popular hangout.
However, luckily for us in terms of spot variety, the architecture around the cityscape has changed drastically during the past decade. Due to a sudden boom in building projects, new spots and skateparks are constantly popping up around the entire city. In relation with the city’s rather small size and easy means of transportation, the spot density has vastly increased to where one can now hit multiple spots in a day’s session.
Combined with the hugely positive response and exposure of the CPH PRO, and complete makeover of the old Fælledparken skatepark – Copenhagen seems to quickly be making a name for itself on the “skateboard map”.
Copenhagen may not always have had the biggest scene, but the city’s skateboard culture has almost always been strong, with notable personalities such as Søren Aaby, Nicky Guerrero, Frank Messman, Mark Fowlie and Rune Glifberg (to name a few) who are largely still active within, and outside, the Danish skateboard scene today. They would lay down the foundation that would lead the way to future generations such as Kristian Bomholt, Henrik Edelbo and the CodeRED projects, that would further continue to inspire many of today’s Danish skaters – such as Hjalte Halberg, Jonas Skrøder, Oscar Grønbæk and Dannie Carlsen.
All these things have worked towards the Copenhagen skate scene getting bigger and better every year. More and more talented skaters from around the country are moving to town, strengthening the local skate scene and making it more versatile and colourful – from ledge technicians hanging around a spot all day, to DIY bowl shredders, to new kids picking up a board for the first time. Skateboarders are definitely no longer a rare sight in the cityscape, and doesn’t seem are going to be anytime soon.
So what is skateboarding actually like in Copenhagen?
Basically, if you ever plan on dropping by, in terms of actually skateboarding there isn’t that much to warn you about. Getting kicked out of spots is rather rare, and getting tickets or fines is virtually impossible. Apparently, the Danish police have been reworking their “image” towards the general population (social medias included), so if you somewhat behave yourself, there isn’t too much beef to be found.
Again, with the city being relatively small in size, Copenhagen is blessed with what has eventually become a rather large spot density, and easy means to getting around to them. Considered one of the best bicycle cities in the world, it is pretty safe to say that all Copenhagen skaters own a bicycle – as it is the most sensible way of getting around the city. But whether it’s by bike or by board, you can rather easily avoid the expensive public transportation offerings.
However, one thing you really need to be aware of is winter; avoid coming here between November and April as it is practically impossible to skate outside. We do have some indoor skateparks, but with the constantly growing skate scene, sessions can get pretty cramped.
Another aspect that can be wise to consider, although seen by many as a big charm towards coming to the city: Denmark is a very liberal country. Drinking on the streets is widely accepted (and heavily practiced), and with Copenhagen’s further inclusion of the extremely popular free state of Christinia, where certain substances are easily accessed – if one has self-disciplinary issues, there can be a risk of falling victim to the party.
You must also be warned about the ladies – Copenhagen is packed with beautiful girls, which can easily contribute towards more partying. Furthermore being quite the fashion city, it has been seen that skaters have turned towards the more metrosexual image-oriented aspect of being a skateboarder, rather than actually skateboarding.
These are not actually considered problems though. Actually they are proudly embraced as part of Danish culture.
The big picture
In recent years a lot of things are happening in the industry and it is an exciting time to be a skateboarder. Some of the (previous) big players in the industry have been forced to shut down their business for big regrets in the skateboard community. But as old companies close, new ones pop up with a fresh attitude and a new way of thinking. Even companies outside of the U.S. are making a big name for themselves, creating alternative paths for people in making a living out of skateboarding.
Polar Skateboards, located in neighbouring city Malmö, is a great influence on the scene here in Copenhagen as well. Pontus Alv’s beliefs in The DIY lifestyle have really been welcomed with open arms in Copenhagen – shifting the focus away from what is happening overseas to a much larger feeling of responsibility and commitment towards the local scene. In the past few years there has really been a new movement of skaters motivated towards creating skate spots, working on independent productions or starting up local brands. This has greatly contributed towards the Copenhagen skate scene feeling very fresh and exciting, as there are constantly new things to explore, share and celebrate.
So although the weather may not always be on our side, there is a lot going on in regards to skateboarding and being a skateboarder in Copenhagen, and it would be untrue to state that the city doesn’t treat us well.