Updated: May 4
I first heard about Skate Love Barcelona from various friends who had been to the festival in some form or another prior to 2015 and knew we had to go and experience it ourselves. As a VERY novice roller dance skater (I mean I had no idea) we hit Skate Love 2015 and it blew my tiny mind!
This was my first meeting with any of the Moxi Skate Team and we all stayed in a sweaty air bnb just off Las Ramblas, so got to know each other pretty well! We found true friendship and love with people from all over the world that we had never met before with just one thing in common - a love for rollerskating. It didn't matter that we didn't have a clue - people were so warm and welcoming and eager to share their skills.
We met Tony L on the Badalona beach front who patiently taught us the zero step and tonnes of downtown variations that I couldn't keep up with, and a really terrible attempt at ballroom that I think he instantly regretted trying. We then learnt a diamond move from someone at the W hotel and Smashley made it into a routine! I had the most amazing time being totally rubbish and exhausting ourselves skating the streets for 19 hours a day.
The roller disco was the true highlight - seeing Marawa The Amazing (yes, she is amazing!) and Mo killing it. Estro Jen and Indy Jamma Jones were doing flips and Abbey Roadkill was doing her famous limbo moves! I think I just stood stock still and stared at everyone.
This event literally changed my life and along with Mel I returned to the UK determined to bring even just a little of this festival back with us - teaching roller dance skills (and ourselves in the process) at Roller Girl Gang classes.
We have been back most of the following years and have developed great friendships with so many people thanks to this event.
I decided that I couldn't sum the whole event up in just one blog post so I thought I would ask other people about their experiences too.
If you have ever thought about going just do it - hug Michelle Barrios and buy her a drink or an ice-cream and thank her for all of her hard work, because her event is so inspiring and life-changing for so many people!
Thank you Michelle! x Len.
Read on for my interviews with Michelle and Beto about their experiences:
The Founder/Director: Michelle Barrios @michelleptybcn
What inspired you to start the Skate Love festival in Barcelona?
I still enjoy my memories as a teenager going to my roller disco every weekend, “El Patín Dorado” (The Golden Skate) in Panama, but after this rink closed, I had many years of inactivity. Fortunately, I came back being more inspired by movements like Venice Beach in California, Central Park in NYC and Hyde Park in London. They pushed me to recreate my memories in Barcelona starting BCN Roller Dance in 2011. And after 3 international meetups growing organically, it was time to formalise something special - into Skate Love Barcelona in 2015.
How much work goes into the planning and organisation of this festival throughout the year?
We want to create an outstanding experience for everyone, so we work really hard.
The preparation for the following year starts actually after the end of the festival. The financing of Skate Love Barcelona relies much on the ticket sales. If people don't buy the tickets, there's no way this can happen. Continuously communication and promotion is a relevant part of the organisation.
Most people underestimate what it means to be able to dance at the beach or at an empty space without infrastructure or sponsor with other 800 skaters.
The planning includes areas such as:
Administration/Finance/Legal (permits, taxes, insurance, etc…)
Marketing & Communication (promotional material, print costs, web…)
Logistics & Production (venues, lighting, sound system, stands, market, transportation, security, ambulance...)
Program coordination (DJ's, performing artists, workshops...)
What do you think has been the driving force behind you wanting to host this event? What do you get out of all the work and effort you put into it?
The driving force behind this is PASSION. For all these:
Roller skating and dancing to good music!
Community, networking and internet: I've been in social networks for ages, where I met some of my actual international friends related to music and roller skating. Following this, the experience of building a local movement through social media, meetups and events, I got inspired to go further.
Experiences and content creation: I've discovered the wonder of designing experiences for those who enjoy the same as me!
Spread the love of roller skating and establish together an European style of this greatest activity on earth
My biggest reward is the joy and happiness of so many skaters from around the world.
Please tell us about your personal Skate Love highlights?
To confirm that impossible dreams has always a way to be a reality
Receiving support and love from so many people. This has touched me in a very special way, and I’m thankful!
To see people with the Skate Love tattoo!!! 5 so far!!! It excites me not just as an organiser but also as a Designer!!! It means that the love and engagement is real for the event and the logo!!
And what have been some of the most difficult things for you to overcome?
To find a balance between my personal life, my professional life and the festival work.
Unfortunately my sacrifice has being extremely out of control being perfectionist, emotional, analytical and obsessive with this production throughout the 4 years. It affects a relevant part of the life, physical, mental and financial. Having so much support this 4th edition, really helped me. Regarding the amount of work that I still had. I’m very thankful with my team.
What do you think is special about this event that makes people want to come back year after year and travel from all over the world?
The great energy of an open and inclusive international festival with a loving community is what makes people get hooked! We offer a space for self expression in a wonderful area and people love it. Also some older people had told me that for them is like getting young again! I love that!!!
I'm very happy to see that we can still breathe sharing, inspiration and happiness, no matter the level of skating, no matter the age, no matter the style, no matter the amount of people. We are all there for the same reason: to enjoy some lovely days on roller skates with old and new friends. We are there to recharge together!
How would you describe Skate Love to someone who has never been to the festival before in 5 words?
Skating, Music, Beach, Community, Love!
Anything else you would like to tell us about your own skate background or goals for the future, your experiences hosting the festival or anything else you’d like to speak about?
Thank you for the interview and your interest to know about what is behind the planning of such a festival. I’ve learned a lot all these years, about all the areas that are involved. As a creative person, finance was the hardest part to learn, I needed to understand what is going on with the numbers and decide according to the calculation. This is like an MBA but hard core. Learning by doing can be exhausting and very stressful, and I always demand a lot of myself.
My objective now is to improve what we offer so far. For example doing all in one place, having a single place to accommodate everyone, to build our own town with everyone on skates around, haha! It has been very difficult to achieve this, to find everything in one place. It would be perfect to do all in Badalona, the disco, the workshops, the skatepark, all there. Or to find a place to accommodate everything. We’ll do our best for this year! Again.
There is also some new adventures in the planning, hopefully it can be a reality so we can publish it :)
I never stop dreaming!
"I would rather die of passion than of boredom." — Vincent van Gogh
(The story behind Michelle's favourite photo: This was a bittersweet moment, as this was the moment that we needed to finish the party, the moment when everyone was enjoying to the max, the moment of the best energy of the whole fucking day and here i am thinking OMG I can't believe i need to finish this party now!!!!!! I'm sooooo sad I was with my team partner Mateu, and he said, MIchelle, go to the middle! you should have at least one dance this day!!! so i went in... shortly after this, i went to the dj and told him that unfortunately it was time to cut.)
The Coach - Beto "Mooncricket" Lopez @mooncricketfilms
When did you first hear about the Skate Love festival in Barcelona and what inspired you to attend?
2014 I heard about it and wanted to go and finally went in 2016.
How many times have you attended/coached at the festival and what is it about Skate Love that makes you want to return?
I have went every year since 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. 2019 is the first year I coached and enjoyed teaching. What makes me return is the skate love of the people. Being surrounded by joyful positive people from all over the world from many countries is a blessing that I wish more people can experience. The energy from the people, the music, Spain's culture, the food and skating next to the beach with great music is amazing.
Have you been to any similar events elsewhere? How do events in the U.S or elsewhere compare to Skate Love?
I have never been to any events like this in the US only indoor skating events that are sort of like the BCN indoor party but still different. Only one event I recently went to that was for one night only on Venice Beach a roller disco party that was super fun. But that was for only a few hours and Skate Love is all day and night Thursday through Sunday and Monday for those who stick around.
What are your personal highlights of this event?
My personal highlights would be the open arms and big smiles from everyone making me feel welcome. Doing a fun skate dance move and the cheers, smiles and energy from everyone keeps me going.
How would you describe Skate Love to someone who has never been?
They will become addicted to going every year with it on their minds through out the year waiting for the next one as a great experience. Making new friends from all over the world and skating and eating lunch and dinner with them is just enough to convince anyone to want to go including people who never skated that will be inspired to skate just to be there. That’s what they already tell me when I share videos and photos of my trips there.
Tell us a bit about your own skate background or goals for the future, your experiences as a coach or performer or anything else you’d like to speak about?
I started skating at 5 years old. I was always a dancer because my parents always partied since I was a baby in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. So dance music was always in our home from the old records and cassette tapes. When i was 6 years old my mom would take me to the local roller rink and I was hooked. When I was 9 in 1983 I was starting to do popping and break-dance moves on my skates in the rink sort of like what you see me do now. Back then the kids would make fun of me because then it was called rexing where dance skaters only when the DJ would announce. I did what I wanted because I was already bboy popping dance battling in the school yard. I never stopped to this day and never cared about what anyone would think of my style. I love performing and sometimes I perform for kids in schools, corporate parties in San Francisco, California and stage performances. My favorite performances have been for Nucleus (Song - Jam on it) the rap group I use to dance at the rink to from the 80s I was so happy to perform in from of 12,000 people in a concert recently. My largest performance was 17,000 people doing solo’s with the queen of Freestyle music Shannon Green (song - Give me tonight). My goals is to open my own roller rink that steps up the level of traditional roller rinks. So many ideas that I know people would come from everywhere to attend with my plan. Whatever request people want from me to teach anywhere in the world I really look forward for that. I’m so glad the many people who took my class at Skate Love enjoyed my class and were able to learn what I call The Art of Freestyle. My class is different from most and I want to make sure people can learn how to feel and understand what music and sounds they are dancing to so they can look smoother on beat and to be able to create their own moves.
Thank you Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez