Exploring China’s Skate Scene with Wang Huifeng

Hi, this is Taji
from VICE New York, Brooklyn. Our colleagues from VICE China
met up with Wang Huifeng, a skater in the city of Shengzhen
for an episode of Skater’s Diary. Stay tuned. There are some skaters. Hello. You are good at skating. You are a pro. I’m flattered. This is my first time coming here. Is this your job
or did you just hire them? Pardon? Is this your job,
to be filmed? Sort of. He’s a rookie. When I started in the very beginning,
I knew nothing about pro skating. I didn’t know anything about it. I simply wanted to skate. I like the feeling when I’m standing
on the skateboard. I like the feeling of
accomplishing a new trick. And I like it when people
watch me do the tricks. And they sincerely applaud for me. My name is Huifeng. I live in Shenzhen. I’m a pro skater. I’ve been skating for 13 years. Before skateboarding, I liked soccer and basketball. I like sports. Maybe there is some
athletic talent in my genes. I was in the school’s soccer team. One day the captain brought a skateboard. Within five minutes…
or a really short time I did an ollie. As time goes by,
I love this sport more and more. Maybe if I chose soccer,
I would be a soccer player today. A pro, too! Shekou is a pretty typical area of Shenzhen. Because it’s close to the sea,
right next to the wharf. If you ever lived in Shekou,
you would know that it’s very slow-paced. Very slow. Sometimes I’d come here at night. It’s a cozy spot. Sometimes I’d get on the boat,
above the deck, and chat with my friends. When I was a little kid I loved cycling to the beach every week,
cycling to the sand beach, to hang out or have an adventure. Hey Bo, we’re about to go.
Get ready. Take in the smell of the sea. Surfing is similar to
skateboarding, actually. You can zigzag your way using strength, but only if you catch the wave. It feels like skating in a bowl. The idea of Hobo Daze comes from Bo. Five or six years ago,
we hung out on the beach often, we would camp on the beach
or live in local hostels. We went to Sanmen Island once. We did it well the first time, and afterwards, more and more people
attended it over the years. Most of them were skaters. This is an uninhabited island. We call it the “Uninhabited Island,” but that’s not the real name. Come on, jump over it! I hope Hobo Daze becomes a festival. Every year on the last weekend of August, we take advantage of the summer
and spend it with friends and family. We put down our phones
and talk to each other. Back to the most simple
and relaxing ways of life. Just like the Go Skateboarding Day, you have freedom wherever you are. This is Deng Xiaoping Portrait Square. We used to come here
to skateboard at night. Here are some ledges, and stair sets. There’s also the classic wavy ledge. I don’t skate competitively, nor for the prize money. I’m really just a street skater. I skate on the street and shoot videos. Sometimes I make tutorial
videos to help others. They weren’t requested by the sponsor,
I just wanted to shoot them. I wanted to do some unique tricks, and share them online. I want to slide on bigger ledges or rails, and maybe do some of my own tricks. I don’t want to just do flat ground tricks
or just film the videos at the skatepark. One of the most annoying things is when a pro skater
is in a video doing a trick, and you know it’s an easy trick, but you just do it wrong every time. It drives me nuts. Before the only flat
ground that existed was here at the Civic Center. It’s a very famous spot. Skaters around the world
know about these 15 stairs. These new buildings in the back were built up in recent years. Zhe. I started to skate 10 years ago,
he began even earlier than me. Senior master. I admit it’s not easy
to stick around for so long. So I’m really glad to see him here. I was like, “Wow, together with someone
who’s been skating for so long.” Yeah. Yeah. Success belongs to
those who persevere. The rules are strict when
skateboarding in downtown. As soon as your wheels touch the ground, The security guards will show up,
they’ll jump out of nowhere. They’ll say, “You can’t skate here.
Pick up your skateboard.” No skating. No skating, no tricks,
none of it is allowed. You must obey the government’s rules. Different areas, different rules. Man, you’re right. “Different areas.” Skateboarding in China
is very restricted now. Everybody knows. There are some clubs
and some so-called associations. They’ve gone too far. Such as Water Sports Association
or X-Sports Association, they allow climbing and sailing, but skateboarding and
surfing are restricted. These associations don’t understand
that skateboarding is a sport. That’s why it didn’t develop well. Because they don’t
understand what we need. They think they’ve done enough
by offering us a skatepark for contests, and that we should have
been pleased by that. But we are not. I remember the X-Game that was
held in Shanghai a few years ago. I wanted to attend because I’ve been watching the
X-Game competition for many years. But when I got there they said, “Huifeng, you are ineligible for the competition because you didn’t participate in
the domestic point-ranking contest. So you are not qualified to attend.” But I saw how easily
foreign skaters could sign up. It was so unfair. So I quit. If you have to skate in a competition in order to become pro, then skateboarding is meaningless. I’ve been skating on streets
since I started. And have been skating in many spots. I skate all the way down, slide on whatever I see, and after skating so much
I go back home. But I haven’t met many skaters,
just a few. It’s hard to be a pro skater. You may feel lonely. Because it’s not a popular sport. You won’t find many skaters as you get older, skaters your age slowly disappear. The ones who continue to skate are teammates from other cities. So it’s like you are skating
alone in your city. If possible, I’d like to keep
skating until I’m 50. If I can’t because of the
current situation or whatever, then maybe I’ll find a normal
job to support my family. But after work I’d still want
to go skating with my buddies. People have different views. Some people might have to
take care of their families and are mentally exhausted. But I don’t want to be like that. There are many pro skaters
in Shenzhen today, but they are kind of sluggish. They don’t film original videos very often. So they shoot videos with Vans instead. So they influence future skaters
and improve their skills. Our skaters from both the
Vans Hong Kong and China Team are going to put on an amazing
skateboarding show. At 6:30, seven pro skaters will perform their brilliant skills here. They are warming up for it. Four of them are from the
Vans China Team. They are Zhang Ziyang, Wang Huifeng, Wang Guohua, a.k.a Chick, and Daniel. The Vans team supports each other. This way we build a good vibe of healthy competition in the team. I can feel it when I’m attempting a trick, but I’m not sure if I can make it. The filmer would say, “Huifeng, you can make it,
trust yourself.” The relationship between the filmer
and the skater is like super important. That’s how you kind of get
the best out of each other. Whether or not we walk away
from the spot with a trick, like that doesn’t really matter,
it’s more of just like… you know, at the end of
the day like how much time you’re spending with your homies,
your real good friends. I mean that’s what skating is,
it’s like the best thing ever. It feels okay. I finished many tricks
within one or two takes. Look how sweaty I am. That’s how much effort
I put into my demo. What the fuck! It’s not that easy to be a pro skater, you have to shoot videos
outside constantly. Especially as members
of the Vans team. If I become the team manager
of Vans one day, I will push you to death for sure. Because you can make it
since you’re young. If I can make it,
there’s no reason you can’t. You should be bolder than me. After skateboarding for so many years, I think the most valuable thing
I’ve got is friendship. I’ve made friends
in many places in China. I wouldn’t be able to meet
so many interesting people if I didn’t choose skateboarding. Everyone has their own life. If I’m supposed to be a pro skater, in the first half of my life then I’ll do my duty. How long you can skate
is up to you. It’s your choice. I say skate as long as you can.

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