While living in Barcelona in 2010 we spotted some Jersey barriers behind La Boqueria in the heart of the Catalonian capital and for 2 years we pondered and discussed if we could turn it into our own little slice of heaven. You may be asking yourself “why do these idiots want to build something in Barcelona?” The city is basically a skatepark already with an endless supply of spots of all shapes and kinds. But for my crew, the Macba vibe is foreign, we have had it upto our eyebrows with the scooter-filled parks, and the Police crackdown over the previous years is just the icing on the cake. To me these D.I.Y spots embody everything that I enjoy about skateboarding and the vibe is unexplainable; people coming together and working towards a common goal and essentially the risk of jail time if caught, adds to the excitement.
In late September 2012, I spent 2 weeks back in Barcelona before heading home to Australia and decided the time was now or never for the barrier spot to be born. All my friends were skeptical and insisted we didn't go ahead as it seemed certain we would be arrested in the heavily policed area and also to mention the car park it was in had 24/7 video surveillance and patrolling security guards eager for some midnight action.
One Tuesday morning I received a phone call from my friend Damian who also wanted to go ahead with the job and within an hour we were down at the spot speculating and discussing what felt like a bank robbery and we put the word out that tonight was the night. We spent the next hour running around Raval buying bags of cement, sand, stones and 50 Euros (60 dollars) later we had the tools and materials for the job.
10pm came in a flash and we had a solid crew of 10 people that were literally born in all different corners of the world and about to embark on a Tuesday night adventure that would never be forgotten. Firstly we decided to have a few beers to settle the nerves and for the restaurants to close that lined our path in between our material stash and the barrier. 30 mins later we decided to start salvaging from a construction bin full of bricks and rubble that we would use to construct and fill our transitions. The baffled on lookers who were sipping on Mojitos just watched with confused faces as we passed back and forth, oblivious like worker ants balancing rubble and bags of cement on our bodies.
As the final bits of rubble were being puzzled together the police pulled up at the far end so we high tailed it out of there to enjoy a few more street beers and stock up for the hours of work ahead. Under the cover of night we charged in, our most experienced concrete worker but very boisterous David furiously tore the bags apart and had a fine spade-made mix within minutes. In no time the bags dwindled, street beers alike so Danny, Papayo and I ran around town acquiring fresh supplies. Suddenly at about 1am some late night workers from the work site on the same property where the barrier was situated walked past us while we were hard at work and began screaming at us and ended up toe to toe with a surly junky who took our side. Blood was about to be spilt, the screams grew louder, people started looking out of their bedroom windows and our cover was almost blown before Papayo dissolved the situation.
Our creation was taking shape and we were putting the final strokes of the first finish when the bewildered, sleepy eyed security finally arrived. He quick drew his phone and we pleaded with him not to call the police. By this stage 2 girls had joined our crew and with their female charm they persuaded the guard to let us continue. Luckily for us because if not we would have been in the back of a police car within minutes. We promised the guard we would leave the site clean enough to eat Paella and off he faded into the distance with some of our street beers in hand and our morale once again soared.
While finishing the last of the beers and completing the final finish our luck turned sharply for the downside as the bucket with all our tools was stolen in true Raval style. At around 2.30am upon completion we hugged, danced and snapped photos with excitement until a familiar blue flashing light illuminated the cold, dim-lit car park. The blue light froze time and not a whisper was murmured, 2 sets of dark eyes peered out of the half drawn window and scanned the area like a nocturnal predator searching for its innocent prey. Tensions grew as each second felt like hours and spending the night in a dark cell with Moroccan thugs seemed imminent. One of the Mossos officers murmured something into the radio as his compañero turned the flashing lights off. The car gear crunched into reverse and to our relief the city servants slowly backed off. Luckily where they had parked was on the back side of the barrier so our creation was not in view.
When I rose the following morning I ran to the balcony and saw a crowd of men in fluorescent vests invading our new kingdom, I threw my shoes on and ran down the 12 flights of stairs and like it was all a dream our barrier spot had disappeared . . . Not even the remnants of a speck of cement dust or an Estrella Damn beer can lay in memory. But that warm, sun-filled Autumn morning I was the most contented man in Barcelona as I reminisced and realized that the memories and experience we all shared could never be erased and its better to try and fail . . .
Big thanks to Papayo, Jye, Tino, Sam and the Suichi crew!