You know what’s great for landing tricks and not getting injured? Smooth transition, ideally made of a forgiving material like wood. Nice even coping, not too big or small, not too sticky or slidey. Somewhere clean and decently lit, right? A nice mini in a safe part of town?
Well...DIY spots would not be described in any of these ways, but for some reason, they still have an unresistable appeal. Community built, often on abandoned scraps of land, DIY’s can be bumpy and cracked, trash-strewn and sketchy, but they also have their own special charm.
Image by Lauren Acland.
Going to a DIY can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone and have a unique skate experience. However, if you’re going to head to one of these spots, remember to respect the space! Those who built them usually don’t like them to be crowded with stacks of people at once, and generally don’t want the location shared widely, or stacks of videos posted online. Widespread awareness of a DIY could endanger the continuation of the space, as councils have been known to strip them down, deeming them unsafe and illegal. Often, secrecy of the location towards public knowledge is key.
In DIY parks, normal skatepark etiquette rules apply, and if you’re unsure about what the do’s and dont’s are, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
That being said, these spaces are built to be enjoyed, so as long as you are respectful, the locals will probably be stoked to see you riding them.
Image by Ray Thomas
So, while we’ll never turn our noses up at some buttery concrete, here are 5 reasons why we love a trip to a DIY!1. The Treasure Hunt Factor
It may be easier to find spots on Google Maps these days, but there’s still a thrill involved in seeking out weird patches of land on the outskirts of town and finding your way into spaces that feel hidden and hard to reach. Bonus points if you have to climb a fence, follow an unmarked track into the woods or enter an abandoned building.
2. Uniqueness is Precious
Council-run or private skate parks are often designed along familiar lines. They need to have broad appeal, catering to kids and less experienced skaters. DIYs are often created piece by piece with no master plan, and the features can be whatever someone felt like building on that day. Throw in the fact that they sometimes incorporate the urban architecture around them and you get no two DIY parks that are alike.
3. Gnarliness Sparks Creativity
When you’re skating features you’ve never encountered before, you can’t be on autopilot and you can’t necessarily mimic tricks you’ve seen online. You have to spend some time looking and thinking, and figure out what a line might look like for you. This kind of creativity can make skating extra fun and make us look at more straightforward skate parks with fresh eyes.
4. Teamwork makes the Dream Work
It’s often easier to pay to be entertained or to access a space than it is to dream up and create your own fun – and there are forces pushing us towards interacting with the world in this way. But there are so many rewards for being proactive rather than passive, like learning skills, connecting with people, growing in confidence and giving back to your community. Being around DIY communities shows what a small group of people with some good ideas and free time can do.
5. Skater~Community Simbiosis
If you skate DIY parks, it’s important to donate to the building fund, as well as taking away trash if there’s no bins, and being respectful to the community that put their own sweat (and often blood) into the site. The money will go straight back to improving the space, that you will then get to keep enjoying.
Image by Gav Drumm .
The most exciting thing about DIY’s is that every space has its own story (not the Instagram kind!). They are often found in neglected, abandoned or forgotten spaces, and the history behind the site is another factor that helps make each spot unique. From the Tottenham spot built on a Victorian water-filtration structure to the Warsaw Bowl in a half-built shopping mall, DIYs can open a window to colourful local history. We recommend leaving the phone in the car and fully immersing in the experience.