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Interview: 20sk8’s Wesley Toothless

From 20sk8's Instagram

A culture driven by its mentality in a society of self sufficiency and non dependancy. A brotherhood that represents the connection with each other through an ideology of gangsterism but changing it to accomplish the positive and help build a society that can pick itself up by understanding the importance of sticking together. I speak to Wesley (Toothless) from the 20sk8 crew about the culture of Skate boarding in the Cape Flats and find out about the relationship with inner city skaters.

How long have you been skating?

Most of us have been part of 20sk8s and have been doing it for the last 11 years

Are guys based inner city or more out of city?

The name 20sk8 comes from our affiliations to the Cape flats. All the initial members grew up there and of course feel a strong connection. The trend for most skateboarders seeking to make a living off it is moving to Cape Town as a few of the members are getting a bit more established and moving from their parents its present that more of us need to move closer to the inner city because of work, education or just being closer to the main hub of SA skateboarding (Cape Town City). 

Why do you think that is?

Within skateboarding there are schisms. The main ones are long boarding and street skateboarding. I am answering your questions from the perspective of ‘street skateboarding’. Now, this consists of the person who skates obstacles that are not meant for skating like the kids you see in Town – it’s considered illegal. Those inside the general style skate park in South Africa –legal. There is this thing in SA called the “Urban Renewals Project” -it is geared toward uplifting “previously disadvantaged areas”. The incompetence of the municipality results in poor facilities that are not 100% skate-abled. This makes the illegal option the most viable for core skaters.

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Who started the 20sk8 crew?

Myself and Shuaib Philander constructed the idea and marketing which together formed our brotherhood as many Cape flats skateboarders were up and coming but not given a voice or platform to operate from. The name 20sk8 has only been in existence for the past 3years.

How is the relationship with City skaters?

Nah man, we skate the city much more than the facilities on the Cape flats. Most of us are based here now; the skate parks on the Cape flats are too dangerous, like outsiders getting robbed etc. 20sk8 is the opinion leader for SA skateboarding. We’re tight with everyone – and I’m saying that in all humility.

How often do you guys meet up to skate?

The well-known guys don’t mix with the un-known guys but that is what 20sk8 is breaking down in order to create an open playing field for everyone and so entrench our name. The skateboard scene is spoken about as a sport, is probably the most conservative or backward. As it has no tribunal or council of discipline or anything – so the traditional gatekeepers are the older Suburbs scene. We meet up sometimes randomly, but when we do events we will always all be there in full capacity. We achieve things because we believe in growth and the power of numbers.

Last words?

I think Cape Town is the model for the rest of the world when it comes to relations- just pertaining to the social sphere of things. 20sk8 is advocating that message through skateboarding .Skateboarding is life- like the first thing you learn when you skate is to fall and when a bone breaks you learn that they grow back stronger – those things are the foundation to having a healthy social environment.

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Written by Ess Swartbooi for a now-defunct section of Platform called ‘Sweat’.


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