50°F, rain, and a stiff breeze—welcome to Hamburg!
This most beautiful city of the world is said to be pretty moody—we have a lot of rain here (Fortunately still not as much as in England!). Our summers tend to be short and our winters are too long and too cold. All inhabitants who skateboard here have to deal with that somehow. Next to our weather conditions, we have to face the fact that we live in the “flatlands” as I like to explain it. Hamburg is situated in northern Germany and seems very flat at first sight, but as a skater you have to take what you get, so we stick to the philosophy of “Skate Everything!” From short, steep, and narrow winding paths down to the river Elbe, to smooth boardwalks, to slippery spirals in parking decks; our options of where and what to skate are suprisingly diverse, and thus, so is our skateboarding scene.
Back to the roots. For many of us, it all started in 2000, when the very first longboarders in Hamburg founded a web forum called BeastyBoard. the forum was organised to help support our growing yet small scene. In 2001, the first downhill race took place—as far as you can talk about “downhill” skateboarding in Hamburg. Check out this clip from 2005 to get an impression of what it was like back in the day:
In recent years, the scene has changed a lot. As we all know, longboarding got popular the-world-over and subsequently the number of skaters increased significantly over here in Europe. A lot of the original Beasty Boarders retired and new people entered the Hamburg scene. These days, there are around 20 to 50 people who belong to the core and keep everything running.
In 2008, the longboard association Rollsport Hamburg was founded in order to represent the skaters’ interests towards the city. They organized the first SkateboarderCross in 2010 on a steep and narrow road down a Dump Hill—a road leading to a hazardous waste deposit site. Yes, the highest hill in Hamburg is actually just a giant pile of waste! Unfortunately, the hill is not open to the public, and due to construction work the second SkateboarderCross, which took place on July, 28th, 2012 had to move to another location.
There is a lot going on in the Hamburg skate community. We take part in Greenskate, and had two of them this year with about 50 skaters on each date. Definitely worth to mention is the Hamburg City Rollbrett Race, a DIY-event organized by Rene and Caro. The race is a kind of skateboard scavenger hunt and was held successfully for the second time a couple months ago. 25 teams took part, about 100 riders in total. Go check http://www.allaroundskate.com/hamburg-city-rollbrett-race-report/ for a full description of what happened including a famous ale bench skateboard. This year, not only people from Hamburg participated in the race and sliding action, but also skaters from neighbouring cities such as Lübeck, Bremen, and Kiel joined us as well. It’s nice to see that Hamburg is becoming a hub of the scene for the northern part of Germany. And it’s great to see how everybody is getting further connected. The original BeastyBoard web forum switched to a facebook group now with about 600 members and is used for everything which has to with our scene.
All the pictures of longboarders from Hamburg you get to see around the internet are ususally from Gordon Timpen, our scene-photographer and one of those skaters who has seen the Hamburg scene growing and who has participated in it from it’s inception. He also played an important part in the first BeastyBoard-Nightsession which was held in November, 2011:
Hamburg has two major shops that support the scene: Subvert Store, located in St. Pauli; and Mantis Longboardshop in the city center. Both have their own teams. Due to Hamburg’s famous flatness, different styles of riding evolved during the last years. There are groups of boardwalkers, cruisers, freestylers, as well as those who pick up freeriding and downhill. The faster ones can be found quite often in the Dopa, or Donnerspark, which is a steep, right-handed corner in a park near the Elbe—a good location for sliding and taking a corner at full speed. A delegation of our speedy downhillers is regularly traveling to freerides and races around Germany, Belguim, and the rest of Europe. Two of our locals: Luca Lessing and Finn Longwitz, the one riding for Wefunk and the other for TD Longboards, and both for Mantis Longboardshop, participated in their first IGSA race earlier this year at the Kozakov Challenge!
Every Wednesday, a roll-round—which is open to everyone—takes place starting at the Subvert shop after the store closes. Wednesday evening is the unofficial roll-round-time for every German longboarder, not only in Hamburg, but also Berlin.
Next to the Dopa, another nice spot we have here in Hamburg is a drainage ditch. According to many, this is pretty much the only skateable one in Germany and it’s is frequented by all type of skaters, and from all over. That said, you have to be real careful getting road rash in this ditch because in the winter the ditch is turned into a sink for local waste water. Ewweh!
From myself and the rest of us over here in Hamburg, Germany, we hope we’ve made a good impression and that you are stoked on all that is going on here. Stay tuned for what’s coming next! And of course we are looking forward to visitors who want to experience our famous flatlands! –Claudia Lehmann
A special thanks to, and all photography by: Gordon Timpen