Skate Spot Porn: Shenzhen, China

August 8th, 2012 | 12:24 pm | Features & Interviews | 17 Comments

In the last decade, China surpassed Barcelona as the go-to skate trip destination. Shenzhen, though largely unknown to the west, is a place that any skate company with money has been to film in the past five years. If Instagram is any indicator, the Girl/Chocolate team alone has been there twice this year. The city is just outside Hong Kong, thirty years old (it was farmland up until the late-seventies), and considered to be one of the fastest growing cities in the entire world. Shenzhen looks like a real-life Blade Runner version of Los Angeles, and its sprawl has left a plaza below every single building. Apparently, marble and granite are cheap and abundant for Chinese developers (a few sources claimed they were even less expensive than plywood), and there’s no shortage of cranes in the sky, so Shenzhen’s collection of spots does not seem even close to being finished.

People use the “spot on every corner” line when talking about Barcelona, and it’s not exactly true. If you skate around MACBA for a day, you’re going to stumble on maybe four spots. You need to know how to get to everywhere else. Shenzhen actually has a spot on every corner, most of which visiting skateboarders don’t even bother waxing because there is always a better one down the street. “Everything is marble” is another line people use to describe good skate cities. Also not true. Sidewalks in Barcelona are not marble. Sidewalks in New York, outside of midtown, are not marble. Sidewalks in Shenzhen are marble. And when they’re not marble, they’re made from something equally smooth.

The non-Blade Runner side of the city.

If you’re a team manager, or generally responsible for the production of a skate video, Shenzhen is the perfect beast of a skate trip city. There is nothing to do there besides skate. Most tourist destinations have things to do after 11 P.M., so your typical T.M. will spend half the trip’s mornings rousing his team up from hangovers or trying to locate them altogether. Shenzhen is not exactly a tourist destination — you can buy Beats By Dre products that fell off the back of a truck, get a cheap massage, or spend your time being sketchy while seeking out a place that offers happy endings. That is about it. More often than not, you’ll be asleep earlier than you would back home. From a tourist standpoint (or a non skate industry standpoint), unless you want to take a 16-hour plane ride to skate 16 hours a day, there are better places to go. There is not much to do in a place that’s thirty years old besides skate, and most grown-ups want more from a trip to a far-off land than skate spots.

American suburbs that are an hour removed from anything resembling a city, where skate scenes revolve around kids waxing curbs in Burger King parking lots, have more vibrant skate scenes than Shenzhen. There are hardly any locals, no shop, and it is safe to assume that the majority of the spots have been waxed by tourists. The good part about this unfamiliarity with skateboarding is that in most cases, they don’t “know” to kick you out. The only reason they hassle skateboarders is because a crowd of pedestrians will form to watch, and authority figures insist they stop because they’re “causing a scene,” and nothing else.

There are four main plaza spots in the city: The Children’s Museum, the Shenzhen Museum, the Horse Park, and the Marble Wave Park. Each one of these spots is good enough to sustain a huge skate scene in any American city. You could put one of these spots in Nebraska and skate companies would begin going there on trips.

The Children’s Museum

This place is a granite version of a generic southern California / Arizona ditch spot. And if there’s one obstacle worth sponsoring at whatever the next skatepark they build in New York is, it’s a legitimate mellow bank to curb.

The Shenzhen Museum

Flushing-height black marble ledges seen in countless videos in recent years. You would become pretty good at skating ledges if these were somewhere nearby.

The Horse Park

(Not a skatepark, by the way.) One of the reasons this city is able to be a literal version of the “spot on every corner” hyperbole used for other places is because of these inclines. The center of the city has way more underpasses and overpasses than actual crosswalks, and each one has a marble-ish incline for strollers, pushcarts, etc. Some of them are gnarly (Grant Taylor drops in on one of the more terrifying ones in SB Chronicles) and some are mellow, but merely skating around that specific part of town will have you zipping down these into underground tunnels every couple of minutes. This particular spot is far removed from the city, but is a decent-enough illustration of what those inclines end up producing for skateboard-reasons.

The Marble Wave Park (obviously the spot’s gringo name)

Easily the city’s most recognizable spot. Rodrigo TX did the greatest switch hardflip ever done in camo pants here.

Other Stuff

Shit Spots

Given that New York has the lowest threshold for what could be considered “a skate spot,” a game we often play when out of town is “this would be a spot in New York.” It’s often used to refer to garbage that people in highwater brown Dickies skate in a tongue-in-cheek way. For all the perfect marble plazas, there is another layer of garbage spots that would be top tier in New York. Flatbars in back alleys, random marble slabs on side streets, a bunch of deep curb cuts, etc. Predictably, less time was spent taking photos of them. This thing looked fun though.

If you want more Chinese spots to drool over look through this Flickr gallery. No wonder China is the next superpower.

17 Comments

Comment by AA
  • a better substitute for gringo would be round eye … good article savign for a plane ticket now.

    August 8, 2012 @ 3:57 pm
  • Comment by mike
  • this is making me want to go skate so bad

    August 9, 2012 @ 10:09 am
  • Comment by random
  • when is the next qs clip coming? its been a minute.

    August 9, 2012 @ 1:20 pm
  • Comment by Snack
  • Labor Day / End of Summer probably. Summer’s always slow.

    August 9, 2012 @ 1:41 pm
  • Comment by Old Perv
  • Barcelona vag is way fresher tho.

    August 9, 2012 @ 4:10 pm
  • Comment by yung perv
  • excellent point

    August 11, 2012 @ 6:50 pm
  • Comment by manny
  • not to mention all the other big ass cities there are in china. theres so many cities that have yet to been hit by teams.

    August 12, 2012 @ 10:45 pm
  • Comment by skater who lives in SZ
  • overall a cool article, but i live in shenzhen, i skateboard and there is definitely a skate community. not sure when you were there. they have their own skatepark. they have a board company and video. the skate shop has everything from the latest lakai kicks to enjoi decks. it’s is in an area called Buji. every day at 7pm about 20 kids lay out a home made box and some other shit to skate. (don’t ask me why they do this when there’s a crazy amount of spots. but i guarantee you’ll see them if you go.) also there is definitely a nightlife. there are around 10 bars that cater to foreigners – meaning someone there speaks english – and a fuck ton of chinese drinking spots, which can be more fun if you’re up for it. rich chinese men will literally buy you drinks all night if you just sit with them and possibly talk to their sister.

    come to shenzhen, check out the skate rats in Buji, drink with chinese people for free.

    March 15, 2013 @ 8:27 am
  • Comment by Snack
  • Most of what I heard re: the scene (or lack of one) was via skaters from Shanghai who had visited Shenzhen a bunch in the past and were showing us around.

    I’m sure there had to have been a scene to some extent, but nowhere near as huge as you’d expect from a city so well-built for skating. But yeah, it wasn’t super apparent in the two weeks I was there either.

    March 15, 2013 @ 9:33 am
  • Comment by Tim
  • @skaterwholivesinSZ

    Hey man, Im teaching in Taiyuan, Shanxi. Im looking at coming to Shenzhen next month for a skate, would be cool to roll with a local, hit me up via email if your keen!
    Tim.rule92@hotmail.com

    May 30, 2013 @ 6:01 am
  • Comment by Mattijs
  • Nice article, do you guys have e heads up on the subway stopts to get to Horse park, marble wave spot and the others? I’m at Shenzhen at the moment and would love to skate those spots!

    Cheers

    July 21, 2013 @ 8:00 am
  • Comment by Deni Tx
  • Guys im on planning to go to shenzen in end of November 2013 ,, hows the weather there ? iwould like to know how the weather while im taking skate video there..

    any body knows or reply me please

    thx

    August 21, 2013 @ 12:34 am
  • Comment by Don
  • #shanghaiskatespot anyone?

    July 31, 2014 @ 11:14 pm
  • Comment by Matthew
  • Hey guys, moving to shenzhen in March 2015 and looking for some people to skate with and also a skate shop.

    mattwm_1987@hotmail.co.uk

    February 17, 2015 @ 6:57 am
  • Comment by Snith
  • I live in Shenzhen and can confirm what @askaterwholivesinSZ said. The article is cool but does SZ a bit of a disservice. Maybe if you’re just visiting and don’t bother doing your research or checking any websites for things to do it might seem like there’s nothing to do. That’s true of the majority of foreign cities, but I guess it can seem more pronounced in SZ because of it’s lack of history and cultural identity. But as @askaterwholivesinSZ said, when you live here you know your way around, you get in with the locals and you’re never short of things to do. Wherever you live in the city there’s a spot to skate and when you want to mix it up you can pretty much jump on the metro, get out anywhere and be guaranteed a new spot. Chinese security and police are completely passive too so they’ll rarely bother you like they do at home. And even if they do it’s easy to deal with them. Moreover, the weather in SZ is incredible. Never gets cold (February is the coldest month and I’ve been in shorts most days) and hardly rains.

    February 24, 2015 @ 9:43 pm
  • Comment by Mitch
  • The Civic Center on a Friday has many people rolling, with views of the city lights. It’s the spot with the two waxed blocks in the photo above.
    Buji has the 1985 shop and a friendly crew who skate on some weeknights.
    There are spots all over the city to skate, you’d find something to session no doubt.
    Exit Baoan South Road East Side (North) and there’s that brick tranny flat gap directly outside the exit. Beware, is slightly rougher than it looks on footage, but rad nonetheless.
    As said, Metro makes everything so accessible and is easy to navigate.
    Come skate Shenzhen!

    machilds@qq.com, get in touch if you want to go for a push

    September 25, 2015 @ 10:10 pm
  • Comment by allep35
  • Hey! Canadian skateboarder living in Dalian, Lioning here. I’m going on a skatetrip to Gouangzhou and Shenzen from January 30 until febuary 15th. I’d like to meet skaterats since there are only teenagers without any skillz out here…sucks to skate alone in the cold you know!
    Add me on Wechat if you are down for a skatedate! Wechat ID: allep35
    Let’s skate!

    January 11, 2016 @ 7:04 am
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