Sydney Skateboarding’s celebration of International Women’s Day.
Words by Naomi Hastings. Photos by Riely Walker.
In my pre-skateboarding existence, March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD), was marked each year with a morning tea catch-up at the house of one of my mum’s friends. As much as I love munching on stale Woollies croissants while sitting around listening to a group of middle-aged women gossip about who’s falling for who on Farmer Wants A Wife, I always got the feeling that there could be a more exciting and meaningful way I could be spending my IWD.
Fast forward to the present, and I have just finished hosting my third annual ‘Ladies Skate Night’, in association with the skate network I lead at my uni, called Skuws - Skateboarders Western Sydney University. Each year, the night has been about encouraging as many female skaters as possible to come together for a skate, with this years’ prizes on offer from Basement Skate, Beach Burrito Co., Pass~Port and Solace.
Waterloo Skatepark was the chosen venue. Not just because I practically live at that park, but more because of its central location and timeless design. It caters to a variety of abilities and styles, but it does not attract as many female skaters as some of the other nearby skateparks. I’ve heard other female skaters say they find Waterloo intimidating because it’s usually quite crowded with lots of “pro skaters”. I thought that by celebrating IWD at Waterloo it could help break down these perceptions and make for a more inclusive environment at this iconic Sydney park.
Aimèe Harris yanks out of a joyous nosepick.
I was amazed at the turnout. Starting at 4pm on a Sunday was risky because it’s typically a busy time at any skatepark, let alone at Waterloo on the first sunny afternoon following several days of rain. Despite all of this, the number of females skating at the park just about matched the number of guys. A few had travelled several hours just to come along and there was an age range of about five to 45 years.
Gemma Balkin’s trick and the ratio of females to males at Waterloo on IWD – both a perfect 50-50.
Sarah Cameron hippie jumps the FB.
One of the more mature skaters, who had an incredible street-style was Paige Hamilton, a former skate team rider of Gallaz – an Australian female sports shoe brand that peaked in the early 2000s. Now having kids and working as a teacher, she said she didn’t get much time to skate nowadays, so she appreciated the opportunity for a roll.
The overall standard of female skaters on the day really blew me away. I saw a massive progression from the females who attended in previous years, and by the end of the night just about everyone could at least drop in on the quarter pipe. I had never seen some of the tricks I saw go down that day, let alone by a female skater.
Viola Leyshon dags a durry and a layback grind. Don’t smoke, kids!
Chantelle Bartolo locks a front feebs on the mini.
As host of the event, I didn’t want it to feel like a skate contest. I wanted it to feel as natural as possible for all skaters, with minimal divide or competitiveness. After all, that’s how I became more confident at skateparks – by feeling comfortable skating with whoever happened to be there. However, with that said, offering a prize to each female skater who came along to the event didn’t hurt.
I’ve been skating for a relatively short amount of time, but even in that period I’ve seen massive developments in the Australian and International female skate scenes. It is an ongoing challenge trying to create spaces that encourage greater diversity and inclusivity in skating, and I do still tend to feel an awkwardness around female-specific skate initiatives. Perhaps this is because I’ve become quite used to seeing a limited number of female skaters around on the regular.
Feiyy Zhou tilts a boardy.
Naomi Hastings with a draining switch ollie.
Running this skate night on IWD feels like a small way for me to give back and help grow the female skate community. So, next year I plan on running another IWD event like this, for which I’ll ask my Mum and her mates if they wanna swap their morning tea for an ollie down the three!
Felicity Turner skips tea for a backside 180.
Aimèe leading the charge – noseslide to fakie.