On Saturday, Skate Space 198 reopened with a block party. A ten-hour program curated by the space’s owners – the footwear retailer Vans – started at noon, saw people from all ages and backgrounds show up, and even a good number of dogs.
The afternoon was full of gravity-defying tricks and sounds: the company had hired notable DJs like DeDe Lovelace and Ben Kadow, as well as Alex Dondero, a local Brooklyn scenester, to get people moving. About one fifth of food and beverage sales, the company said, would be going to a fund the apparel giant runs to pay for the space’s skate programming during the winter.
“We really wanted to create a moment where all the community came together,” Justin Villano, an executive at Vans, told me. He said that the idea for this event was to honor the tradition of block parties in Brooklyn, but noted that event would double as a showcase of various upgrades and renovations Vans paid for since the spot was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a way for us to include all the local brand partners, media and everyone involved in the entire event planning,” added Villano.
Elsewhere, another Vans executive named Paul Gonzalez told me that he was interested in getting to know the skateboarding community in New York. He’s from Canada.
Gonzalez said the indoor skate space that Vans built to promote their brand is different from those the multinational apparel brand puts in places like in Chicago or California, since those are outdoors or focus more on live music, like the one the brand shut down in Greenpoint a few years ago.
“The fact that the weather forecast looked like 100% rain – and people still showed up and are here, and [its] only getting busier, that says everything,” he added.
The company operates its skate park for free during the fall and winter months: to reserve a skate session, go to this link.
All images taken by Juan de Dios Sanchez Jurado.
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