Cuba is unlike anywhere else in this world. Upon arrival we were immediately greeted by the hot Havana air, thick with humidity and exhaust. After only a four hour flight from NYC, the landscape is quite different from what we’re used to. Dense with lush vegetation and low buildings, while the cars, the city and its people are a vast palette of vibrant colors. Pitched against ornate buildings exuding grandeur, their crumbling state resembles that of an ancient yet post-apocalyptic city- with surprisingly some of the smoothest skate surfaces around.
Skateboarding has been scarce in Cuba since the 80’s. Its been picking up in popularity and availability through the new millennium despite direct access to product or skate shops. Over the years many key individuals and organizations have been coming down with gear to share with the youth- and it’s been received with enchantment and stoke. Skateboarding has created a welcoming and encouraging community for children who otherwise would not have had much opportunity to do, well, almost anything. It teaches kids to stick together, forming incredible bonds that stretch far beyond just the piece of wood. During our last three missions we’ve even noticed a clear and exponential rise in skateboarders, and we thank everyone involved over the years who has been aiding in continuing this flame. It empowers and motivates youth to be stronger, resourceful, hard working and compassionate- and most importantly gives individuals a freedom that has been generally frowned upon within this old communist mindset.
On Go Skateboarding Day, 150+ local skaters amassed at a park in Havana bustling with excitement, chatter and laughter. The flood gates burst and everyone began mobbing along Calle Reina, a downhill six lane street. We took over the entire road whistling and shouting while every pedestrian stopped to look- cheering or just watching along, as even more rushed onto their balconies in amazement. With about 600 wheels rolling on the semi-smooth asphalt in unison, it sounded like a thunderstorm. We continued on in full force through remnants of Chinatown, around the heavily guarded Capitol building, through the fancy shmancy hotel area and finally down the smoothest downward kilometer you’ll ever skate- Paseo Del Prado. Afterwards everyone hung out socializing, dancing, playing skate- with so much passion it was a truly bonding experience for all.
Many people came from all over the world with gear, supplies, and to contribute in a variety of ways. It seemed like the festivities never ceased with an entire week of skateboarding and art related events! Including: DIY construction with Clayton Graul of Urban Skate Projects, Jesse, William ‘Soup’ Campbell, Emilio & Ivan Fernandez all working alongside resident builder Jakub and Havana locals / Amigo Skate Cuba anniversary art Show and movie screenings at the famous Fabrica de Arte Cubano / Skateboard distribution day with Boards for Bros and Foundation Skateboards / tattoo expo with Atomic Tattoo / contests at Ciudad Libertad and Parque Acapulco / Foundation Oddity video premiere, mural painting with Chris Miller, local artists and more!
Huge thanks to adidas Skateboarding for getting us down there and for lacing up all our local homies, skaters, artists, and contest winners. It was so awesome seeing everyone again, the progression & growth over the years- can’t wait to go back! Thanks to Oakley and SHUT skateboards for much needed contributions, Arizona, Natural Koncept and always Amigo Skate Cuba for a helluva time, every time!