Most people don’t come into contact with authority that often. But when you’re a street skateboarder, you will find yourself facing the law, concerned citizens, angry homeless people, and security guards at some point. It’s inevitable! My personal style when it comes to getting kicked out of a spot is to ignore the person, and if possible sit down and wait until they get sick of telling you to go. Obviously that doesn’t always work and when you’re traveling in a different country, the risks can be too high. It’s just not in your best interest to even consider ignoring somebody carrying a pistol, or a bat. So unfortunately, most of the time you’re going to get kicked out with very little you can do about it. And since we, as skateboarders, know that this is the way the cookie crumbles, our response to those types of people is often negative.
On our last night in Sotchi, we experienced a similar situation involving authority – but with a totally different outcome. We were filming inside of a shopping mall. It had rained during the day, but we needed some last-minute tricks, so we went out in the evening. As always, we quietly walked towards the spot, which was a bump over some flat with a big drop. In order to keep a low profile, we split into two groups, separating the skaters and filmers from the rest of the crew. The first group started to do their thing, and we all stayed at a small distance.
But despite our efforts, a security guard approached us immediately!
Unfortunately, his office was right next to the spot. Bummer! But to our surprise, he was pretty nice and told us that Vladik [Scholz] and Pascha [Kuznetsov] had seven tries to get it done.
So they went for it and Vladik managed to get his trick in about four tries. We celebrated! But Pascha needed a bit more. Of course we kept going for a bit longer, so another security guard stepped to us and told us to stop. This is where it got interesting: The first guard came out of his office, both security guards started talking to each other and, finally, the second one left.
The first security started talking to Vladik in Russian and told him we could stay for as long as we wanted, “Have fun!” He said, “Stay as long as you want because I have to sit here all night and I don’t have anything to do.”
Then he walked back into his space but came back out after about three minutes. “Would anybody like some tea?” Vladik translated from Russian into German, and then counted how many people wanted tea and walked into the guy’s office.
When he came out he was smiling and told us: “The guy’s name is Dima and he just offered me some cognac! Do you want some?”
I walked over to Vladik and we went into Dima’s office. His office consisted of a little house inside of an unfinished part of the mall. Inside his 1.5 square-meter stall was only room for one chair and a little built-in desk. Outside, he had a sofa and two chairs, plus he had mounted a small radio onto the wall. Dima welcomed me to his office and immediately started showing me pictures of his children; he had four in total.
That’s when outside, all of a sudden the cops showed up! Dima, Vladik, and I walked out and I couldn’t believe what happened next: Dima told the cops that we could skate, and if anything was damaged, he would take responsibility for it.
The cops left as suddenly as they had arrived. Everybody was amazed when two tries later, Pascha made his trick while we were all sipping on a hot cup of tea (with cognac if you wanted some). Our host told us that he sits in that little stall for two entire nights a week, so us coming by was a good source of entertainment.
Dima took out his phone and asked if we wanted to do a group photo so we shot a couple. After that he took us to the roof of the mall and showed us Sotchi from his perspective. As we walked down I couldn’t believe that Dima would take such a risk to let us skate the mall and how nice he was to us after. Especially considering that he didn’t know us, he showed us a great deal of Russian hospitality. And I have to admit, events like this give you a fresh perspective on your old routines. Thank you Dima!
Written by: Roland Hoogwater