“Well some people try to pick up girls and get called assholes, this never happened to Pablo Picasso,” drawls Jonathan Richman from the grooves of the eponymous Modern Lovers LP in 1976, in what would become probably the best known song dedicated to Málaga’s best known export. The unspoken punchline, of course, is Picasso’s reputation as a misogynist of a level approaching caricature. Despite this, his position as one of the best known artists of the 20th century has guaranteed his position as the jewel in the Málaga tourism crown. Millions visit his birthplace and the Museo Picasso Málaga every year, with many carrying on to the Fundación Picasso to complete their artistic pilgrimage.
The city is also known for its beaches, its other museums, and particularly its architecture; a palimpsest which layers Roman, Christian and Muslim building styles encompassing a broad sweep of human occupation. It is the city’s architecture which first grabbed skateboarders’ attention around the turn of the Millennium – but not the Alcazaba, built during the Muslim-ruled period of Al-Andalus, or the Castle of Gibralfaro, or the Church of Santiago, an example of a hybrid Christian/Muslim architectural tradition.
Rather it is the ledges and smooth floors which dot the town, popularised by any number of British skate mag articles as a viable escape from the despair of our sodden winter, which have had skaters scouring SkyScanner for the cheapest flights out once the clocks change and the days draw in.
In that proud tradition a portion of the UK DC team recently headed for the land of sunkissed marble, accompanied by Reece Leung, to meet up with a few of their Euro counterparts and see what they could achieve with a reliable forecast and the promise of cheap street beers to boost their serotonin levels. I can’t share too much about what went on over the course of the trip without resorting to a John Berger-esque description of the images on these pages, as I wasn’t actually there.
I only have a few Instagram chat messages sent over by Reece about everyone killing it, and about finding the Spanish equivalent of Leeds’ Wax Bar, accompanied by some snaps that I could pretty much smell the booze through and a few of his undeniably buggered knee.
From the looks of things they managed to unearth some rough amongst the smooth – see Joan Galceran dodge craters to flirt with tetanus and bag a scenic mayday for confirmation of that, and Isaac Gale’s cover-gracing kickflip looks pretty crunchy on the knees to boot. For the most part, however, this looks like a welcome break from weathered pebbledash ground and crumbling council estate brickwork (this obviously only applies to the UK contingent).
In spite of my not being present on the trip, I can still conjure up that sense of escape that comes from stepping out of an airport and getting that first whiff of Spain in the springtime. Seeing the squares and plazas which frame most of these photos is basically a visual madeleine cake for those of us who grew up skating in the UK in the 90s and 2000s, dreaming of an escape from the mundanity of Safeway car parks.
The skaters you see on paper here, as is the case for the majority of us when we find ourselves on these trips, are making the most of a few days respite from the daily slog of gainful employment. Possibly the most memorable couplet in Richman’s ode to Picasso is to be found in, “Well the girls would turn the colour of an avocado, when he would drive down their street in his El Dorado” – a linguistic stretch which, it could be argued, is akin to writing tour articles about Spain from your freezing cold office desk in Leeds city centre, listening to The Modern Lovers while you watch the drizzle settle in for the day. And, as I can’t really add much more with regards to what actually went down on the trip itself, I’m off to piss my wage packet up Easyjet’s proverbial wall. If you’ve reached this point of the article, I imagine you’re wanting to do the same.
DC UK – ESPETOS