Volunteer/Organiser - Mel @troubleon8wheels What inspired you to volunteer/support the Skate Love festival in Barcelona? This is the festival that showed me the world of roller dance. Before this, I didn't even know people danced on roller skates with such rhythm. It was so different to the roller discos that I had been to! Anything that I can do to support and spread the joy and skate love is something I am delighted to do. Also if you have ever met Michelle Barrios who founded the festival, you simply have to help! Michelle is one of the kindest, most humble people I know, such a graceful skater and she genuinely wants to spread a love of skating. It is such a pure joy.
How much work goes into the planning and organisation of this festival throughout the year? Next year's festival is already in early planning stages. Feedback is being collected from this year's festival. As early as February, I started contacting inspiring skaters who have taught at the festival before or teach a class where they live, after discussion with my Skate Love BCN partner Ivan. As you would expect, the closer the festival got, there was more to do. Agreements made, promotional photographs of our teachers, last minute changes due to unexpected problems and so on. I found the work much more challenging than I expected, even though I am used to planning events, this is the largest event I have been involved with. The most challenging aspect though was dealing with dual language and trying to co-ordinate an international team of teachers. It was important to me to be as professional as possible (despite being a volunteer) and ensure I was contacting teachers at times that suit them, as well as making sure they felt well looked after at the festival itself.
What do you think has been the driving force behind you wanting to support this event? What do you get out of all the work and effort you put into it? It is satisfying to know that people are attending and enjoying the workshops booked. It's also an opportunity for me to learn from a skilled international team who put the event together, so that I can make events for Roller Girl Gang even better. I think I will be better at delegating now! It's also great to see a range of teachers and learn some new things from them. I would have loved to attend everybody's workshops, but I needed to work with the SL volunteers. The whole volunteer team were incredible.
Please tell us about your personal Skate Love highlights? First one - even though I was on tenterhooks the entire time at the skate park on Sunday, because it was packed, the volunteer team were incredible and the teachers worked together so all the attendees had a great learning experience. When I finally sat back, I realised there had been almost 200 people in the skate park, and the ambulance that had been booked was thankfully not needed.
Second one -I massively enjoyed learning from people, and Sam at the beach party was fantastic. I was really pleased that I was able to keep up and learn the series of steps quickly enough to enjoy it and not have to think about it too much. I just let my feet take over and lost myself in the moment. Even better was the next evening, Sam said "How do I know you?" and I replied "I've been working on my downtown sequence behind you all weekend." He said "Oh yes, you're good at it, smooth, and it flows. Would you like some watermelon?" I was blown away! But enjoyed the watermelon.
Third one - to just hang out and bond with my friends. This is the first year we have brought friends who we first met at skate classes a couple of years ago. We have pushed people with their skate skills and encouraged our students to use the most efficient techniques, so it was absolutely incredible to hear one of our (now) close friends say that they have used every skill they have learned - from indoor general skills, roller dance specific movements, to outdoor skills - they felt well prepared and just had a great time! It was a bit of a proud mama moment for Len and I!
And what have been some of the most difficult things for you to overcome?
Dealing with logistical things like taking equipment to the different spaces and venues being used by the festival, without having done a practise run first. Google maps is great and gives an indication, but it is a poor second to experiencing a journey for yourself. Some of the time I wondered if routes were skateable, and decided to just hop in a taxi as I didn't want to arrive late or too hot! Too many people were relying on me to be on time!
How would you describe Skate Love to someone who has never been to the festival before in 5 words? Truly international roller skate experience.
Coach/First-timer - Nick - @nickthemedic
When did you first hear about the Skate Love festival in Barcelona and what inspired you to attend?
I first heard about Skate Love from the Moxi Skate Team because they were going to attend, however I wasn't on the team at that time. Watching their Instagram posts and how much fun they were having is what made me what to go.
How many times have you attended/coached at the festival and what is it about Skate Love that makes you want to return?
This was my first year attending and coaching and I will definitely be coming back in one capacity or both! Having so many roller skaters from all over the world in one area is the best place to meet, learn, and grow with other skaters that I hardly never get to see.
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 another skating event that was centrally focused on dance/jam skating and I had the best time! I think it was because I didn't really know anyone from that side of skating. I come from a derby and park skating background, so getting to see another community on skates was very exciting.
What are your personal highlights of this event?
My favorite part about Skate Love was the Disco!! I don't think I've ever seen that many dancing roller skaters at one event ever! The energy from everyone was unlike anything I've ever felt.
How would you describe Skate Love to someone who has never been in 5 words?
You got to see this!
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?
Well, I'm actually a paramedic! I've been skating parks for the past 5 years but my skating career actually started 27 years ago. I played as a goalie for our local hockey team before I moved onto coaching roller derby. After 8 years of derby in Sacramento and Sonoma County I started skating bowls and I've been addicted ever since! I've had some amazing opportunities to coach at the Moxi skate camp at Woodward in California and Pennsylvania, Shredageddon in Australia, and at Skate Love in Barcelona. I'm constantly inspired by this community which has been so supportive of each other and together we’ve been pushing to be better skaters, friends, and people. My goal is to continue to learn and give back to this community I'm so proud of.
First Time Attendee - Maggie - @maggiederu
“Karen, shall we go to Skate Love?” I asked my friend and fellow Roller Girl Gangster Karen. We looked at each other and decided “yes, let’s do it”. Our friends were going and I’d been to Barcelona before – sounds like the perfect opportunity! But as a fairly new skater – the doubt started to creep in. Would I be able to keep up? What if I couldn’t partake in any skating? Well, at least I’ll get a nice trip to Barcelona out of it.
When did you first hear about the Skate Love festival in Barcelona and what inspired you to attend?
I’ve seen posts about Skate Love for the last few years, but I wasn’t a very confident skater, nor did I think I could ever do any form of dance. The first time I put skates on was when I was in my mid-twenties and it wasn’t till about a year and a half ago, that I started skating more regularly and started to practice roller dance with Roller Girl Gang. I never felt confident enough to go before, but this year was different. Firstly, I felt more confident as a skater, as thanks to the skatepark, I wasn’t scared of falling anymore. Secondly, I also knew some of the most supportive skaters would be going, Len, Mel, Karen, Kerrie, Craig and all my other Roller Girl Gang Friends who are all at different levels of their skate journey (but are cheering you on regardless of what level you’re at). Thirdly, I’d been to a few larger skate events like Roll On London which helped me get to know more skaters and also taught me it was ok to sometimes just sit back, watch and learn from the best.
What are your previous experiences of skate events and how does Skate Love compare?
I’ve been to quite a few Roller Discos around the UK, but my first big skate event was Roll On London this summer, and it was incredible. At Roll on London, as Emma described in her blog post, we were both very intimidated and petrified we would do something wrong – so overcoming that fear was good practice for Skate Love. What I particularly liked about Skate Love (besides it being in one of my favourite cities in Europe!) is the flexibility of being able to attend workshops, or just the discos, or meet your friends at the beach. There was something happening all day, every day and you could put a little menu together of the things you wanted to do. Which included city skating through Barcelona to cute vegan eateries, taking part in workshops that blow your mind, watching dance circles unfold in an incredible skate venue and skating around at the beachfront with your friends. There was no pressure to do one thing, there was a lot of freedom in the things you wanted to do. Did you attend any workshops or coached sessions and how did you find it?
Yes, I did! We attended, the couples workshop by Najete and Florian, the improv workshop by Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez, Pere Marsinyach Artistic Skating Workshop and the Beginners Skatepark Workshop by the Moxi Skate Team.
Honestly, I think this really depends on people’s budgets, as on top of the main access pass, classes were an additional cost. I don’t think you HAVE to do the classes to get everything out of the Skate Love experience, but for me the workshops were the highlight! As I felt very under-confident at times, it was nice to be in a class room environment where you can learn, practice and get advice without feeling ‘not good enough’. For example, I really had a blast at the main roller disco, but there were a lot of times that I would just sit back and watch the dance circles because I couldn’t quite keep up. The workshops were an opportunity to learn from skaters all over the world, who all have different styles. I loved Najete and Florian’s workshop, because it was so unique and I couldn’t wait to practice this with my friends at home. Beto’s workshop taught me to let go of my nerves a bit more and to just move to the music! Pere Marsinyach’s workshop was also utterly brilliant, it was my very first introduction to artistic skating. I didn’t know I could 180 jump and land on one foot?! The skatepark workshop with the Moxi Skate Team was a slightly different beast, because I was very, very nervous. That morning me and Karen got up very early (did I tell you that Karen is the MOST supportive skate friend one could have?!) – to go to this amazing skatepark right at the beach. I remember telling Nick at the beach party the day before, how nervous I was, no idea that he was one of the coaches (yes that was embarrassing, sorry Nick!). The Skatepark workshop was a ‘self-identifying workshop’, so people put themselves in categories: beginner/intermediate/advanced. I was in the beginners group that ‘had been to the skatepark before and could drop-in’. There were a lot of people in my group that went to the beginners workshop and the intermediate/advanced one afterwards. So I felt like I was the only ‘real’ beginner in the group that couldn’t quite keep up. I kept falling, and the more I got nervous, the more my legs just forgot how to skate. I fell A LOT. Every time it was my turn, I just crashed into the concrete. I should have probably switched groups, but I was too scared to even skate over to a different group on the other side of the skate park. After about 25 minutes of feeling complete anxiety, I eased into it thanks to the coaches. Dita, Nick and Michelle coached in some pretty challenging circumstances as the skatepark was open to the public and very busy. Dita, Nick and Michelle, are obviously some of the best skatepark coaches out there – so they were brilliant at managing a group that had so many different levels and tiny humans on scooters whizzing past. Dita made me feel confident enough to drop in on the highest drop in I’ve ever done, Nick helped me do my first ever 2 footed stall on a high ramp and Michelle was so kind and nice she said: “Don’t mess with fear” and before I knew it I jumped my first 360 (on the flat).
It was so amazing to learn from the best skaters out there and every single one of the coaches were so humble and nice, and understood the challenges you face as a novice skater.
Were there any skaters you were inspired by who you were able to meet at this event? I think there were so many incredible skaters at the event that I would have never ever had the chance to meet otherwise. As I’m quite new to skating, I’m not very good at knowing names, but once I was there I was inspired by pretty much everyone! How much were you able to attend and what would you do differently/the same if you went again? I loved all of the classes I attended and all of the events. The only thing I’d change is my accommodation. I wouldn’t stay in a hostel again, as I think it’s nice to come home after 12 hours (or more) of skating and have a bit of a private living space where you can chill out, have a nice shower and cook some food. If you book early enough it is not necessarily more expensive. How would you describe Skate Love to someone who has never been in 5 words? Exciting, Adrenaline, FUN, Tiring, Beautiful. What were your personal highlights from the event?
Honestly, the time with friends and meeting new people was definitely my highlight and this happened at all of the events, especially the beach party! If I have to choose, one of my highlights will always be our final night at Badalona beach where Len, Nick, Karen, Sammy, Jess, Mel and myself were just messing about on skates. My cheeks kissed the concrete a lot that evening, but it was all worth it, because I laughed so much that evening, and it reminded me of why I love to skate: it makes me and other people smile.
You can see the compilation vid of our evening at Badalona here: (Click on photo for link).
Hope you have enjoyed reading about everyone's different experiences of the Skate Love Barcelona festival, we really hope we will see you there in 2020!