A few months back, India's first female pro skater Attita Verghese hosted the first ever all-female skate tour of her motherland. Along for the ride were skaters from a bunch different countries, and it's fun to imagine just how many minds were blown as they cut their path from Kovalam Beach—at the southern tip of India—inland for a month of demos, park hunting, and mayhem.
But for those of us who don't love having to imagine stuff, the tour film launches tonight in Bangalore, Paris, Melbourne, Berlin, Liege, Copenhagen, Marseille, and Tel-Aviv—the home cities of each of the skaters who made the trip.
Ahead of the Melbourne launch, we talked to local tour member Monica Shaw.
Hey Monica, let's start with the idea behind Girl Skate India Tour 2016.
The idea was Atty's. I think for her the idea of having an all-girl crew tour was something she had dreamed of. Being India's first female skater and founder of the Girl Skate India association, it was really an idea she made happen. And with the power of the internet all these girls just started to get psyched for it; me being one of them.
How did you come to be involved with the tour?
It was a last minute change of travel plans really, or fate if you believe in that sort of thing. I had planned to do a month in Sri Lanka with a friend of mine, skating and documenting the Sri Lankan skate scene and finding remote skateparks. We'd planned to write a story and shoot photos of that trip, but at the last minute my friend had to pull out.
I had seen this India all girls tour was taking place on Facebook and I quickly googled how far it was from Colombo to Trivandrum, India. It was an hour and it seemed just all too easy from there. I got in contact with Atita and she was immediately on board with me coming along.
Not only did I still get to fulfil the desire to document skateboarding in these countries, but I would get to do it alongside 13 other women, of which I only knew one—an old acquaintance through skateboarding—Lisa Jacob from Paris.
What was the connection between the women on tour?
It was mainly that most girls knew Attita one way or another. But the female skateboarding scene is small compared to the men's. For the most part it was new friends being made over common interests like getting hurt and rolling around on pieces of wood.
But we had little clicks within interchanging constantly: the Germans, the Frenchies, the weed heads, the coffee seekers, the photography nerds, the culture seekers, the early morning swimmers, the DJs, the boozers. We were all learning a lot about each other through our long bus trips and sometimes tight sleeping situations.
Can talk us through the itinerary?
After sunning myself over Christmas in Sri Lanka by myself, I headed over to Trivandrum, that's where the tour kicked off. All these girls appeared one by one at this waterfront hotel in Kovalam beach. From there we travelled for the better part of a month to Bangalore—where Atty lives—to do demos, workshops and a skatepark build. We went on to Goa for for some crazy park hunting and finished up in Hampi, to check out the Flintstone city.
The tour spent some time at Kovalam Skate Club. Care to talk about that?
Kovalam Skate Club is a school in Trivandrum with a skatepark built inside of it. Probably the coolest school in the world if you ask me. They carry the principle that if you want to skate, you have to come to class and be studious.
They run clinics and supply equipment, which is all donated so these young and underprivileged kids can shred, stay in school, and be healthy. We noticed there are a tonne of young girls taking it up there. Sporting choices for females in India are, at times, slim to none.
On the other hand, skateboarding in India is very grassroots and they don't have preconceived idea of who should do it. Like it isn't a big deal to see a girl shredding there, like it is perhaps in more western places.
The timing feels kind of perfect for a film like this to come out. What are your thoughts on being able to share something like this with the world, and what do you hope they take away from it?
I toured a lot growing up, to competitions and demos through the States, Canada and Europe. So to be a part of this now down the line, it's been this sense of things coming full circle, doing something you love but in a new way.
To share this is to perhaps convince more women to pick up a skateboard and go to a new country. Or maybe it's to just skate in your garage or out the front of your house. I think all the girls on the tour just want to share the joy they all get from riding a skateboard.
GIRL SKATE INDIA TOUR 2016 features:
Lisa Jacob - Paris
Monica Shaw - Melbourne
Chloé Bernard - Marseille
Attita Verghese - Bangalore
Lina Ritterhof - Berlin
Roxana Cernicky - Leige
Sonia Ainos - Copenhagen
Anshu Mahat - Kathmandu
Niku Verghese - Bangalore
Jenna Hirt - California
Fabienne Karmenn (photographer) - Berlin
The film launches with a photo exhibition tonight at Work-Shop Melbourne, 195 Argyle Street, Fitzroy. Doors open 6pm. Details here.