Skate Spot Porn: Copenhagen, Denmark

January 16th, 2015 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 19 Comments

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“Four skate spots and one skatepark all on the same street — I can’t tell which is the skatepark.”

By the third or fourth day, Copenhagen begins to feel like a colossal joke. Coming from the classic American “if you get hurt, you’re gonna sue us”-disposition, almost every spot is met with a “What the hell were they thinking when they made this?” You don’t get kicked out much*, and the general public seems way too concerned with enjoying their chill lives to tell you you’re ruining some slab of stone. On top of everything, there’s a canal full of swimmable, clean water dividing the city — sorta like if the Hudson was unpolluted and safe enough for a swim after you got done with a summer session on the Westside Highway. There are a thousand beautiful girls riding by on bikes, and even the pizza is mysteriously better than you ever thought Danish pizza had the ability to be. It’s an expensive playground for adults, but not in a hookers/drugs/”tonight we’re getting fucked up“-kind of way.

[*In the two weeks I spent there last summer, we got kicked out once by a knife-wielding hash dealer who said we were scaring off his customers. He promised to kill us if we stayed at the spot. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Better safe than sorry?]

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Jarmers is the Tompkins of Copenhagen. It contains two highish ledges, good-yet-razortail-inducing flatground, and a nice ledge for sitting, drinking beers and watching hours go by, not unlike some green benches we have quite an affinity for. If you watch the Skate Europe episode above, you’ll see a snapshot of the attitude that has allowed Copenhagen to become one of the most skate-friendly cities in Europe: “They cleaned the ledges every week…every week we’d have to re-wax them. We actually met the architect [who built the plaza.] In the beginning, he was almost crying, ‘You’re ruining my plaza.’ We [told him], ‘Nobody is using the plaza besides us, you should be happy.’ [He says] ‘Maybe you’re right,’ and I think after that, they stopped cleaning [the ledges.]” Now, there are even cheesy lil’ ads on the screens at Jarmers depicting some of the locals who skate there. It is worth noting that all of this takes place adjacent to a financial building at a major crossroad of the city, and not in some tucked away outskirt.

Also in that episode, which was created in 2010, they mention how there are two spots in the city: Jarmers and this Venice-esque path alongside the beach with a long concrete ledge. Quite a lot seems to have happened since then.

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Copenhagen has undergone a bout of urban renewal this past half decade. This is well-documented in the design community, as the city has become somewhat of an international poster child for forward-thinking public space. Unlike American public parks, which are built with a crippling fear of lawsuits in mind, the people designing these plazas have acknowledged how easy it is to adapt skate-friendly obstacles into any corner of their creations. Every new park is multi-use; nothing is simply a playground, a basketball court or a skate plaza. If the space is there, why limit it? Basketball courts thus become surrounded by banks, and playgrounds bordered with ledges. Nothing is built merely to be sat on and left alone after lunch-hour.

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It would seem that for a Danish architect, there’s nothing sadder than an underutilized space (it helps that their other mantra is basically “fuck cars”) — and they figured out who exactly has spent more time in ledge and incline-lined spaces than anyone else these past twenty years. Some of the older Jarmers locals even said that they were approached to be consultants when several of these parks were being planned. The city is so welcoming for your skateboard that it begins to feel like the bizzaro world. “Why is no one yelling at me?”

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These places are consistently being built. I spent a week here in mid-June 2014, and returned for a week in late-July. The spot above, Israel’s Square, opened up that time, only reiterating the city’s absurd level of adherence to common sense when designing a modern public space. Imagine if Washington Square had a three-foot-deep pool (the article describes it as a mini skatepark for “younger children”…it may be better described as a dreamland for people who suck at transition), and a neighboring set of stadium ledges that the parks department didn’t mind you waxing. You’ll start to get the picture.

Copenhagen isn’t cheap. A bottle of water will run you the equivalent of $4 and a coffee could get up to $8. And you’re dropping cash if you go out drinking one night. It’s not a city like Barcelona where you can get by living in some flophouse, handing out rave flyers one day a week to make a bit of money. Everyone here has their shit together, so it’s far from an ideal brokeboy skater getaway. It is, however, a place unlike anywhere else, where you can spend a week skating incredible spots without ever having to get into a car or a train. Put it on your bucketlist and don’t go there with your stupid girlfriend.

We’ll leave you with this square flatbar into rubber:

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Past QS Travelouges: San Juan, Tempelhof, Shenzhen, Barcelona

19 Comments

Comment by mike
  • thats it im moving

    January 16, 2015 @ 7:40 am
  • Comment by Max Shapiro
  • Can I have permission to have this republished on AltDaily.com? They are a Norfolk, VA based publication that’s spearheaded an Arts District in an underutilized area right outside our downtown. They got the city to let them build an amazing concrete sculpture/skate ramp in an alleyway only to have the city change its mind about liability issues and so they never finished the sidewalk around it for run up. This article and the pictures could help change the minds of some of the people in our city government.

    January 16, 2015 @ 11:50 am
  • Comment by Moeller
  • YES what Max Shapiro said, Norfolk really messed up on that one, at least the Alchemy plot is still skateable. But Norfolk really fucked up ripping out the Olney sculpture

    January 16, 2015 @ 2:51 pm
  • Comment by Snack
  • Go for it.

    You don’t really need to “republish” anything though, I’m sure a link will serve your purpose all the same. Good luck.

    January 16, 2015 @ 4:27 pm
  • Comment by Nick Smith
  • Why “stupid” girlfriend? You are the stupid boyfriend then…..But I guess you don´t even have a girlfriend….

    That´s really stupid macho writing and thinking – not even this maybe, just totally dumb

    January 16, 2015 @ 5:24 pm
  • Comment by Seb
  • Love u QS! Thats a beautiful story, and yea i would never bring a girlfriend to any paradise.

    January 16, 2015 @ 6:05 pm
  • Comment by Jack
  • obviously you go there to FIND A STUPID GIRLFRIEND.

    January 16, 2015 @ 6:08 pm
  • Comment by Roctakon
  • As someone who has lived well past his own twenties, I can assure you that most of the young quartersnacks readers, especially the ones under twenty five, have—if they have them at all—dumb girlfriends.

    January 16, 2015 @ 7:10 pm
  • Comment by Jonny
  • Sweet article, I’m actually going there soon and this has made me even more excited! I’ve found a ton of spots but the only one I’m struggling with is the above school… The one with the banks and the dots on the ground. Do you know the name of it or roughly where it is?

    Thanks in advance!

    January 16, 2015 @ 7:20 pm
  • Comment by Aske
  • Whatever you do, come here in the summer months (between late april to august)! Winter is either brutally cold or just really wet and windy and the indoor possibilities aren’t worth coming for. And yeah, I live here and can only agree with the writer. I feel pretty fortunate living here and skating. Btw, here is a little selection of some of the skateparks and spots ind the city http://skateparks.dk/search/k%C3%B8benhavn.

    January 17, 2015 @ 3:59 am
  • Comment by Jesper
  • As a copenhagener (male) I can assure you that you rarely find stupid pretty girls in this city, they are mostly (and according to statistic) higher educated than the guys.

    January 17, 2015 @ 5:26 am
  • Comment by Thea
  • I think the School with the dots is “Nyboder skole”. It’s in the center of Copenhagen Close to Nørreport by all these old yellow houses called Nyboder. But i’m not completely shure

    January 17, 2015 @ 7:30 am
  • Comment by mike
  • Seattle is probably the closest American city you will get to this. There are spots everywhere there. legal too.

    January 17, 2015 @ 10:21 am
  • Comment by Bruno
  • Damn!! I got a job offer this morning that requires me to move to Copenhagen.

    January 17, 2015 @ 11:09 am
  • Comment by Jonny
  • Thanks Thea and Aske! It’s April I’m coming. Very jealous of your city!

    January 17, 2015 @ 5:57 pm
  • Comment by og gas pack
  • Should have copped hash from the knife guy maybe it was some gas

    January 19, 2015 @ 12:12 am
  • Comment by SNE
  • Here you go Jonny:

    Skolen i Charlottegården

    Adress:
    Frederikssundsvej 77-79
    2400 København NV

    Try these also:

    http://www.kjaerrichter.dk/index.php?id=43&gid=1346

    You need a car for this spot: http://1til1landskab.dk/nordstjerneskolen/

    January 19, 2015 @ 7:40 pm
  • Comment by Perry
  • Can anyone hook me up with an address or anything really to get me to Jarmers ledges ASAP? flying to CPH in a week

    January 26, 2015 @ 6:44 pm
  • Comment by Perry
  • fuck nevermind thanks Aske

    January 26, 2015 @ 6:45 pm
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