Berlin, Germany

A group of skateboarders find out that fascist architecture makes for natural skateboarding terrain.by Jody Morris

You get a strange eerie feeling when you stand on the steps of the Reichstadt. It is, after all, the government building where one of history’s least-sane people bellowed his psychotic rhetoric to the world. This feeling follows you while traveling around Berlin. The history of the city echoes in the back of your mind¿whether near the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, which once stood as the embodiment of the Cold War, dividing the city in half, or the remnants of the World War II bombed-out buildings left standing alongside new skyscrapers, the history of the line where east meets west is in plain view.

We arrived in Berlin on the Monday following the Mystic Cup contest in Prague. With about five days to kill until the next contest in Lausanne, Switzerland, a crew consisting of Paul Machnau, Justin Strubing, Justin Reagan, Donny Barley, Ryan Johnson, Ricky Oyola, Rob Gonzalez, and Ryan Kingman decided to visit Germany’s once-divided capital to see if the rumors of plentiful skate spots in Berlin were true. Although in the past people have ventured there to skate, Berlin has not exactly become part of the regular summer skate circuit.

The first group consisted of Strubing, Reagan, Paul, and me. We arrived late Monday night, and the others arrived the next morning. We had a contact there named Monica who works for Radar¿a company that promotes Emerica shoes in Germany. Have you ever been on a museum tour where you get headphones with a continuous audio track guiding you through a particular exhibit? Well that’s what Monica did for us. Not only was she able to give us bits of the history behind what we were seeing, she also told us stories about what it was like having The Wall around through the eyes of someone our own age.

Did you know that a poll recently taken in East Germany (the former communist side) showed that 40 percent of the people who live there said they would willingly return to the days of The Wall?

Monica put us in touch with some Berlin skaters and their spots. So with a limited amount of time to spend in the city (due to the fact that we had a twelve-hour train ride to Lausanne on Thursday), we set out into the city. We were shown some of the usual places to skate, but the crew wasn’t really into the normal terrain. This crew was more likely to go a little off the beaten path. Whether it was Ryan Johnson skating lines you couldn’t see if you looked at the spot for hours, or Rob Gonzalez kickflipping street gaps that most would have passed by without even contemplating, it was refreshing to see a group like this in action¿not your regular hit-the-local-spot kind of session.

Had we spent more time¿say a week or two¿Berlin would have presented us with limitless possibilities. However, two days were enough to realize that Berlin has much much more to be found. Oh, and Justin Strubing did a wallride on the east side of the Berlin Wall¿something that only ten years ago would have been impossible. More likely than not, it would have gotten him shot.