The Vans Shop Riot 2016 went off; with a climactic final half hour of section worthy handrail tricks all done against the backdrop of a peaceful sun set Atlantic. Before all of the madness, we caught up with a few of the skaters to chat shop, and get an idea of the vibe back at the campsite.
Words: Daryl Mersom | Pics: Will Sleigh
Eddie Belvedere, Black Sheep
What’s going on today at the Shop Riot?
Black Sheep won the UK competition, they were the best in England again, because they’re not only consistent, but they skate better than anyone, so obviously they won.
I get to go to the final in Portugal with my friends, I’m given tokens for drink and for food and I meet loads of nice people all enjoying a good time. Then I see kids from Portugal or from another country, young kids like, maybe they skate for the shop and they’re talented, gifted skateboarders and they get sent to Portugal for three days over a weekend, and they get to skate and show they rest of the world or Europe how good they are at skateboarding. I see kids who would maybe never leave where they live and they get to come and skate and then everyone realizes ‘this guy is the best skater.’
»Who cares about a 30 year old guy riding a skateboard!?«
I feel like we need to big up how good it is for a shop to do this, because you could just get the best guys to ride for your shop and not care about anything else. The way I see it is like, who cares about a 30 year old guy riding a skateboard, kids that buy skateboards, most of them are like 15, 16, they’re all out with their mates, smoking, drinking, finding out who they are as people, and maybe they’re good at it you know, but they won’t get that opportunity because they don’t have money.
And then they win this competition, and Vans take all the skaters together, and they go, ‘here you go, here’s money, here’s the drink, here’s some food,’ – they look after you. This is what it’s like to be a sick skateboarder. I’m so down for it.
I realized that everybody here is a good person, they’re all the best skateboarders in Europe and they all deserve something, if you’re a football player you probably get your bum licked, but these guys aren’t footballers, they’re skateboarders, it’s good for them to get some recognition.
Do you think it is harder for European skaters to make a career out of skateboarding?
Who started skateboarding thinking, oh I’m going to be a professional skateboarder? I picked up a skateboard because it appealed to me, I liked the challenge, and it wasn’t a normal thing you know. I had to look at it and be like, ‘wow how do you stand on this?’ No one told me, I just learned to stand on it. ‘What’s the best way to balance?’ My mate was like, ‘you can do tricks on these’, I was like, ‘no chance,’ he was like, ‘yeah you can flip the board and I seen it,’ and I was like, ‘bullshit, you’ve not seen it.’ Next thing you know I’m still skateboarding.
Who wants to go to work wearing a suit, 9-5, Monday to Friday every day, fucking grind the cogs man, fuck that, I’d rather have no money, and meet nice people.
What is the first and the last thing you bought from a skateshop?
Maybe the first thing I bought was a Panic skateboard. And I got it off my good friend at the skatepark. And he maybe skated it a few times but it was fresh you know like if you skated street it was a banging skateboard but he gave it to me and it was like 8 inches wide it was such a sick board. And then I went on holiday to Italy and my mum and dad were like: here’s some money buy a new board while you are on holiday. And I went to the skatepark and there was a big European competition.
»The first thing I bought was a Panic skateboard«
I was speaking to the guys from A Brief Glance and they were there, I was like 13 or something. I got to watch all this skating and they had boards for sale. I thought, how can this not be the best lifestyle you’ve ever experienced? And ever since then I was like, that was skateboarding: Meet people, have a good time, drink a bit much.
Alex Seyed, Team Manager of Ministry of Concrete
What is a typical day like at the shop?
A typical day at the shop, opening it up, waiting for the guys, for the locals to chill, we are in a new spot in Syntagma Square that is the main place of Athens and it’s near to a quite major skate spot in Syntagma Square. Then we have a little break for some skating and then back to work.
What is the best thing about picking a shop team?
Injecting new blood into the scene and seeing them as children, and growing up becoming full grown men, teaching them skateboarding ethics, and trying to extend and grow the skate society in a town that did not recognize the sport all of these past decades.
What is the Athens scene like?
Nowadays it seems that it’s been rebuilding, the whole recession thing over the past years really affected skateboarding, and kids didn’t have the money for the proper skateboarding equipment. But all of the skate shops of the country have focused a lot into producing their own stuff, own branded skate goods, which has helped the whole regional industry develop, this has a big impact on the scene as well because you see newcomers being supported more than they used to be with the global products. The whole scene is growing nowadays and there are quite a few skateparks being built, which is a sign that the rest of society has already accepted the subculture as something that is going to be important in the next few years.
»Trying to extend and grow the skate society in a town that did not recognize the sport all of these past decades«
Was it hard to keep the shop open during the peak of the recession?
Yeah sure, it was, but we tried to find other ways to make it more appealing to the outsiders of the sport. So we tried to focus on the core, but also present something that is consumable for others as well. It is hard, but life goes on. We stocked local streetwear brands that are skater owned.
What brands are popular in Greece?
There is a lot of support for the European community, from brands like Antiz or Palace. And the typical US brands like Baker and Deathwish. But it is surprising that most people in the community are more into the local scene, brands like ours, Ministry of Concrete Goods, or Lover Skateboards, or SOS.
What was the first thing that you bought in a skateshop?
I remember the first thing was an Evol skateboard. It was quite old, mid 90s stuff. It was a setup with some Indy trucks and some Ghetto Child wheels, and Black Panthers.
»There is a lot of support for the European community – most people in the community are more into the local scene«
Who would you like to pick for the team, if you could pick anyone?
I would like to see our injured rider, Notis Aggelis get back to health, he’s a talented skateboarder. I would really like to see him back for the next Shop Riot.
Yannick Schall, Team Manager of Titus
Where is Titus based?
We are not a local shop, we are an online shop. We have team riders all over Germany. For example, there are some guys in Cologne, a guy in Stuttgart, and some guys in Berlin.
How did you pick the riders?
I picked them by myself, or the team manager who was in charge before me picked them. They have to skate really good, they have to have their own style, and be cool with us – hang out with us.
What is the best thing about being able to pick a team?
To skate around the world with your friends.
»The last thing I bought was wax…!«
What was the competition like in Germany for the Vans Shop Riot?
It was in Cologne, at the North Brigade skatepark. We won it last year, and this year again, so we like the park, and I skate it a lot, even though I am the team manager.
Are there any teams here that you are looking forward to skating against?
Yeah I really like the guys from Jerusalem, Gili’s skateshop, they are friends of ours, and I think the Portuguese guys from Bana skateshop are really good.
What is the first and the last thing you bought from a skateshop?
My mum bought me a skateboard at the local shop in Berlin. It was an Element Reese Forbes, with Destroyer trucks. It was a really traditional Element graphic. And the last thing I bought was wax [laughs].
Who would your dream rider be?
What item would you love to be able to stock?