Everybody hates Mondays, but we had the best one this week! We spent a sunny late afternoon just a stone’s throw away from our East London studio in Victoria park having a skateboarding lesson with Neighbourhood Skate Club. Started in March, Neighbourhood Skate Club is for women to learn to skate, feel empowered and meet like minded people! After our lesson, although a little sweaty, we had time to chat with Lyndsay, the brain behind Neighbourhood Skate Club.
Alice and Lucy with Lyndsay in Victoria Park
Hey Lyndsay! We had so much with you on our first skateboarding lesson! Can you describe Neighbourhood Skate Club in five words?
Empowering through voice, movement + skateboarding.
What inspired you to start your own skate club?
When I’m skating I feel free. No worries, no stress, just focussed and present in the moment. I want other women to feel that same freedom and power that I feel when I’m skating. I want them to experience the joy of it all, without feeling like they don’t belong.
For years other women have made comments like ‘I wish I could do that, but there’s no way I could’ when they see me skate. I began to realise how many women, of all ages, had an appetite for skateboarding, but felt like it wasn’t accessible or even socially acceptable for them to learn. I want to help change that and do my bit to help create inclusive and accessible spaces for women to learn how to skate, taking away the pressure to learn tricks, while breeding connection and confidence for all within skate culture.
You’ve started doing skate lessons, what can someone expect from a session with you?
I teach skateboarding with a focus on movement and weight shifts, connecting to your core, but also the ground and the space around us. Neighbourhood Skate Club is more than simply a skate school - during a session we discuss and practise everything from owning our space, trusting our strength, believing in our bodies, channeling any fears, as well as how to be better allies towards other women, the LGBTQ+ community and BIPOC and how we can use our voices on and off our boards to communicate confidently and stand up for what we feel matters.
In our lesson you mentioned how important you think it is for women to take up space, why is this so important to you and how does it relate to the world of skating?
We have just as much right to skateboard as anyone else and we have just as much right to be in the park skating around and taking up space as anyone else, but I’m very aware that it doesn’t always feel like that. The male gaze is everywhere and so often women feel vulnerable walking around the park, never mind being there on a skateboard. While learning a new skill like skateboarding, many women feel ashamed, embarrassed or at severe risk of experiencing street harassment or mansplaining.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been catcalled or shouted at from car windows when I’m skating down the road. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been approached by men in the park, who have stepped way too close into my personal space, just to say something vulgar, tell me to smile, or to ask me to ‘show them what I’ve got.’ It’s disgusting and something I experience almost weekly.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder why women feel like they need to hide away when they are learning how to skate - or in fact doing anything that seems to invite this dreaded male gaze.
The reason I encourage women to take up space while they are in a lesson with me, is to encourage them to step outside of this discomfort and own the space which is so rightfully theirs as much as it is anyone else’s. It’s empowering to finally say ‘F*** it, I’m here, I’m doing my thing and I’m not going to let anyone get in the way of that.’
We are respectful of everyone else in the park and take pride in building community and giving back to the neighbourhood, but we also stand up for ourselves when we need to and won’t be afraid to use our voices when we need to.
When did you start skating yourself? What do you love so much about it?
I started skating when I lived in Miami about 10 years ago. I became obsessed quite quickly and used my board to get everywhere. Skating around a city like Miami allowed me to see a completely different and magical side to the city that I would have never otherwise experienced.
I moved to New York a couple of years later and had the same experience. The NYC I saw thanks to skateboarding brought me some of the best experiences and memories that will live with me always.
Now that I’m back home in the UK, skateboarding still means just as much to me. Not only do I work fulltime in the skateboarding industry managing the marketing for several skate brands, but through Neighbourhood I am meeting the most incredible and inspiring women, again thanks to skateboarding. The community is what I love the most.
Do you have a top tip for anyone wanting to hop on a skateboard for the first time?
Don’t rush the process. Know that you will have to sit in the discomfort, but also joy, of being a beginner until you put the practise hours in - and that’s normal, that’s OK! Move slowly and focus on developing a strong and confident push, which will help you no matter what your aspirations are on the board.
First you have to figure out what foot forward you are. You can either be ‘regular’ or ‘goofy.’ ‘Regular’ means you are left foot forward and ‘goofy’ means you are right foot forward. From there I teach a 3 step process to get on the board and get moving.
Step 1 - Front foot comes on to the board facing forwards ensuring all your weight is sitting in your front quad and you’re leaning slightly forward to support that weight shift
Step 2 - Keeping your weight on your dominant front foot, push forward with your back foot then bring it on to the board, facing outwards.
Step 3 - Rotate your front foot out so it’s parallel to the other foot and aligned with your hips and knees. Now you must bend your knees to lower your centre of gravity and give yourself more balance. Your weight is evenly distributed now between both feet. Enjoy the ride until your next push.
Have you got anything exciting coming up with Neighbourhood Skate Club?
This Friday 23rd July I am hosting my first group event for Neighbourhood called ‘Class of 21,’ which I am so excited for. We will meet in the park for a skate workshop, picnic and group skate. The goal of the workshop is to teach everyone about the difference between skateboards, longboards, cruisers etc, but also chat about the component parts of a skateboard and how to build and customise your own setup. I hope that by explaining all of this in a hands-on manner, where the girls can try out the boards and understand the component parts, everyone will leave feeling like they can own their shiz and have more confidence when it comes to skating.
Who inspires you that we should follow on instagram?
Skateism - Non traditional skate magazine and media platform for the underground and overlooked, the weird and the wonderful
Skateistan - An award winning international NGO that empowers children through skateboarding and education.
The Good Push Alliance - A global community of skateboarding for social change, focussed especially on pushing against racism.
Skate Pal - A charity supporting young people in Palestine through skateboarding.
GRLSWRL - A women founded inclusive skate collective in LA, San Diego and NYC.
Brb, just going to follow ALL of them! Ready for some quick fire questions?
Are there any female owned skate brands you love?
Neighbourhood Skate Club of course (merch coming soon!!) Doyenne Skateboards, Hoopla Skateboards, Impala Skate, GRLSWRL, Salon Skateboards, TICA London to name a few.
Earrings or Necklace?
I’m never taking off my GIRL POWER Tatty Devine earrings ever again!
Favourite song to skate to?
Anything by Phoebe Bridgers forever and ever.
Vans or Converse?
Vans do SO much to support women in skateboarding - from product, to women team riders to grassroots events - so it absolutely has to be Vans.