What comes to your mind when you hear skateboarding in Kolkata? Quirky? Fun? Rare? We’re sure the word ‘cool’ tops your list! Kolkata Skateboarding is the city’s very own skateboarding club and we caught up with one of the members, Kabir Guha, as he gave us intel about what’s it like to be one of the coolest clubs in town. The club practices at an abandoned warehouse in Lake Gardens and it is one of the coolest places we’ve visited in Kolkata.
Here’s Kabir Guha on skateboarding in Kolkata:
Tell us about your skateboarding group.
Our skateboarding group is called Kolkata skateboarding, for the lack of a better name! It was started by an American guy called Aaron who worked with an NGO that supplied drinking water to underdeveloped places. He saw this warehouse filled with graffiti and being a skater himself, decided to show some kids how to skate. Eventually he began to take classes and hired us as volunteers. I joined in 2014. Our students would be the ones who lived around the backend of the Lake Gardens area. We don’t charge money. It’s sort of a school but more of a club.
When did you begin skateboarding and why?
That’s because I’m horrible at everything else! As a child I was utterly uncoordinated and so football and cricket wouldend with me sitting in the backlines all the time. When I was 10, my uncle gifted me a skateboard and then eventually I learned how to skate. I stopped for a couple of years but then one day I stumbled across this place and went and spoke to Aaron.
How did you relate so much to a sport that is so uncommon in Kolkata?
Not many people are into skateboarding in Kolkata because its uncompetitive. I have had this aversion to competitive sports due to being so uncoordinated and skateboarding calms me. You can do it at your own pace and no one tells you that you have to be able to score a goal within your first two weeks of joining or you’ll be kicked out of the club. You can learn at your own pace.
What are the reactions you usually get when people see you skateboarding?
The police just chase us, it is a mystery to me as to why they do so. We skateboard for fun in public spaces like lakes because the roads are decent. Also there are people who ask us if we get hurt while skateboarding in Kolkata.
How do you plan to make skateboarding in Kolkata bigger?
We put up as many posters as we can and we teach as many kids as humanly possible. We also do shows as we often get invited to these fitness meets by the sports community. We also work with the Infinity Riders, who are a bicycle stunts group- so we go to meets and show-off over there to invite people to join us. Also a lot of hip hop groups gravitate here because of the artwork and atmosphere. So we get dancers and bike stunts here as well. It’s become a hub for street sports.
So would you say you’re ‘cooler’ if you skateboard?
Yes! People immediately react with a ‘woah’ when they hear that you skateboard probably because no one around here does it much.
What are the criteria for someone who wants to join the skateboarding club?
Zero. We don’t care, and the skateboard doesn’t care. Buy a skateboard, come over here and practice, we’ll love you immediately! This is a place where not much apart from skateboarding matters. We’re very inclusive.
Anything you want to say to someone who wants to join the skateboarding community in Kolkata?
If you want to skateboard, there’s nothing stopping you, just go buy one and show up here and start skating. We’ll be immediate best friends! No questions asked.
About the hidden location:
The location is a warehouse in South Kolkata. The walls are laden with Graffiti and it gives the proper feel of an underground pop-artist den. The graffiti kick-started the hip hop community and it started growing around here.
Keep an eye out for our detailed story on this location!