Barcelona is a city of stories. If you spend enough time wandering its balmy beaches and narrow streets you’ll likely hear the distant rumble of wheels racing against the cobbles. The Catalan capital is known as the Mediterranean Mecca of skateboarding, and for four days House of Vans celebrated local street and skate culture with live music, creative workshops and an exhibition highlighting the history of the cult brand’s beginnings.
From September 25 to 28, Barcelona was treated to a House of Vans experience, bringing the party spirit to over 5000 visitors in Utopia, an Art Deco former factory. The four-day extravaganza kicked off with a launch party hosted by Spanish skateboarding magazine Dogway. Throughout the event, local skate shop Al Carrer held skate “skool” sessions where avid young skaters got a 101 lesson in skateboarding basics. In partnership with legendary Dogtown skateboarders Jeff Ho and Jim Muir, a ‘BLACK RAINBOWS’ exhibition provided a trip down memory lane. The name references the black lines etched by skateboards as they carve against the side of a skate bowl. The exhibition travels from Vans’ surfer beginnings in 1966 and celebrates the first skate shoe: the Vans Era. They were custom made and when they got worn out owners would return them to the Santa Monica store to get a new pair. Looking back to the past, on display were a vast selection of early ’80s era skateboards curated by Nasty Monday’s Soren Manzoni.
A custom-built skatepark was a shining highlight of the event. A “Cash for Tricks” contest hosted by Sour Skateboards provided an exciting watch as skaters from across the city shred through it with competitive passion. Attendees even had the chance to customise a skateboard of their own during a build-a-board workshop held by Aymaboards. Each evening ended with live music from talented local artists like rappers Santa Slut and Hard GZ as well as headliner Kaytranada, who played smooth electronic funk sounds to finish off the night.
The event’s final day culminated in a community marketplace lined with booths offering everything from free tattoos by Beautiful Lady Tattoo Parlour, vinyl records and skate shop pop-ups. Visitors tried their hand at screen printing with Laser BCN and tote bag customisation with illustrator Julian Lorenzo before staple Barcelona club night Nasty Mondays played into the night. A capsule of Barcelona’s creative community, Vans did a commendable job of elevating local talent and giving each creator a platform to share their art and their story.
words. Shama Nasinde