• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 10:42pm

Skating heaven

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am

From the outside, Vans Sk85ive2 looks nothing special. It seems just like any other store tucked inside one of Kwun Tong's many industrial buildings.

Yet hidden behind a wall covered in skateboard decks is a secret door which leads to Hong Kong's first indoor skatepark.

The park is the vision of Julius Brian Siswojo, who owns the local skateboard and street fashion shop called 8Five2 Shop.

'I've been a skateboarder for 25 years and having your own indoor skatepark is like a dream. When we saw there were no indoor skateparks in Hong Kong, we said we gotta make it happen,' he says.

The park is around 270 square metres with 4-metre high ceilings. The walls are covered in wood panels and the floor is solid concrete.

There are several ledges, manual pads and bangs which, Siswojo says, are suitable for street skating.

The park was designed by a skate equipment development company in the US called California Ramp Works. It can accommodate eight to 10 skaters at one time.

If there's anyone qualified to run a skatepark, it's Siswojo. As well as owning the shop and street wear label Know1edge, he raps with local hip hop group 24Herbs, and is president of the All Hong Kong Skateboard Association.

The association advises the government on skateparks, such as the ones in Mei Foo and Tung Chung, as well as two new parks in the works in Fanling and Tseung Kwan O.

But while public skateparks are bigger and allow daredevils to perform more difficult tricks, they are located in harder-to-reach places and have limited opening hours.

'At most parks, it's lights off at 10pm and you have to go home. But some skaters work during the day. They leave work at 7 or 8pm, eat, and then have nowhere to ride,' notes Siswojo. 'Our riders can skate here 24/7. Like they can wake up super-late at night and come down here to skate until four, five in the morning, regardless of the weather. It's raining and you can still skate. It's Typhoon 3, you come down, you skate.'

Siswojo says interest in skateboarding in Hong Kong is at an all-time high. '[Popularity] is always up and down. Now it's probably at the peak,' he says. 'We can tell from the board sales. We sold probably 500 to 600 decks in six months, which is pretty gnarly for Hong Kong. It's a lot compared to the previous 13 years we've been in business here.'

And a lot of that interest is from teens, he adds. 'The kids are psyched. I hope they maintain that passion. You know people skate two, three years and then go, 'Yeah, whatever', and quit. I hope they keep going like us. Me and Warren [Stuart, a friend] are 25 years deep into this.'

Siswojo wants to turn his park and his shop into a 'clubhouse for skaters'. The park is open to anyone, but you'll need to become a member first. One requirement is that you have to be able to skate. If you can't but want to learn, Siswojo's crew will be offering classes to train a new generation of skaters and grinders.

'At the end of the day, it's for the younger generation. I'm like the second generation of Hong Kong skaters. I'm 38. In skating, 38 is old. But I love it, this is my life. I feel so good when it's just me skating by myself with my skateboard,' he says.

The indoor skatepark will open on Saturday. For more details, visit www.8five2.com

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