SKATE CULTURE: A TALK WITH VALENTIN POPESCU

It was 8:30am in the sunny Milan while we discovered Ancira Adeon‘s pictures of one of the most influential skaters, Valentin Popescu, published on Instagram on the other side of Europe, in Romania.

And we had the idea to explore more this part of the world and its skateboarding culture. We know that skateboard culture has influenced fashion, music and even the way we talk. Skaters are free to skate how they want and do the tricks they want. There are no other players to influence what you do. This independent, no rules, free thinking mentality attracts creative people to skateboarding.

The presence of skateboarding – never mind freestyle – in Eastern Europe is a relatively new development. There were a few trips across the Curtain by European skaters, most notably for a competition in Prague in 1988 which was covered by Thrasher, but skateboarding didn’t really get an opportunity to thrive until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As such, the community and culture – in Romania at least – is still very young. There’s not a lot of home-brew skateboard companies or manufacturing, and skateparks are few and far between.

To find out more, we had an exclusive interview with Valentin Popescu:

How and when were you first exposed to skateboarding and when you started exactly? 

I was first exposed to skateboarding when I was 14 years old I think I was in seventh grade and I saw randomly at a classmate that he had a cheap skateboard and I thought that if he can do it why couldn’t I so I asked my mom for one and she bought me an even cheaper version of what he had but I had no clue that I would be still skating till today so props to my classmate.

Are there any particular people or friends that you really enjoyed skateboarding with? 

See you when you’re part of this community you skate with a lot of people but of course I had my crew by the name of “Sector 4 Crew”I had my friends who I skated with and mostly people my age I was kind of intimidated by the older dudes that were skating better so of course I would always skate with but it was also fun and it was an interesting dynamic to skate with the older dudes because I had a lot of things to learn from them and I that made my skateboarding a little bit better I can say so so yeah always skating with my crew.

Would you like to collaborate with any brands or organizations related to skateboarding? 

Even though I was not the best skater and I’m still not the best skater in my hometown or even in my country I manage somehow to get sponsored by a Vans which was a very very very very very very very very very big thing in my skating “career” because being a young kid who is not that great but still has a lot of potential and getting the opportunity to be sponsored by such a huge company and such a big name in skateboarding was one of the best things to ever happen to me as a skateboarder and as a person but in the future if I get the opportunity I would very much like to work with Nike.

Where are the most interesting skate parks in Romania?  

To be honest with you there are not a lot of great skate parks in Romania mainly because of the community not being that united and also the authorities not caring that much but to make a top the first one should be in Chisinau (Moldova) which technically is not even in Romania ; the second one would be in Cluj Napoca and the third one I’ll put my local skate park in, even though I know everybody’s going to disagree with me, but I wanna shout it out Tineretului Skatepark.

Does the government support skateboarding somehow? What do you think can be done more regarding this?

As I’ve stated earlier the government doesn’t really care about skateboarding or about the sport in itself nor the community and all of us but the thing is that they’re trying to buildm skate parks and like help the community, but they don’t let people from the community help build those skate parks and all that kind of stuff; so they end up making skate parks that are un-skateable most of the time, even if they are trying, but they don’t really care so it’s an in between thing where they care and don’t care at the same time.

What’s schooling like over there? What kinds of opportunities are available to someone who wants to be involved in skateboarding? 

Schooling it in Romania is a it’s a bumpy ride as I like to call it and to the opportunities that they give to kids who Sk8 are equal to zero because there are not a lot of kids who skate so they would rather focus more on soccer or sports like basketball or volleyball and other European sports.There has been some interests into making activities and skate schools for small children in private kindergartners but as far as that goes that’s kind how much schooling went with skateboarding.

What does your family think of skateboarding and how they support you?

Right now my family is very supportive with skateboarding it and because I have managed to somehow find a way to kind of make money out of it because of my online presence and what I do outside my work field. At first they were like yeah he’s just playing a game and he’s just having fun with it.They were very worried when I had my first serious injury and they thought I was going to be bad, but fortunately for me I did not go through any surgery at all and my injury was kind of bad but not that bad so they were chill with it in the end and understood the fact that I really wanna do this for as long as I can.

Are there cool skate shops in Romania?

There are a lot of cool skate shops in Romania but my personal favorites are Boarder’s shop who’s been around for like 13-14 or even more years and a very cool new skate shop in town By the name of Etaj Shop and I suggest you go check them both out.

What’s the best way someone abroad can support the Romanian skateboarding scene? 

For somebody abroad to basically support the Romanian skateboarding saying all they gotta do is just visit. Like, literally, they just got to come here and Sk8 with us and it’ll gain more popularity and the authorities are going to see that this brings tourists in the country. Maybe they’re going to think more about it in an economical way and maybe is going to benefit the sport a lot more than they think

How did you meet Ancira Adeon and how was the photography experience with him?

Me and Ancira we’re friends on Facebook for a long time and he approached me when I visited his hometown Timisoara. The experience with the photo shooting was very natural. We synced from the moment we met and we just started to shoot and everything went super cool and super smooth. The photos turned out very good.

Your favorite place to skate? There are any particular moments during the day when you want to skate or you do this all the time? 

My favorite place to skate would be my local skate park because I grew up there and I got so many beautiful memories there and a lot of good moments. A lot of things happen there, I know every corner of that place. There’s not a moment in particular when I want to skate. I would do it all the time if I could I would skate non stop, no eating or sleeping but I also have to go to work and do 1000 other things:))

What is on your current Spotify playlist? How do you think music is related to skateboarding?

On my current Spotify playlist there’s a lot of music that’s been shifting around. I don’t got a song in particular, but I just randomly shuffle through songs. I’ve listen to so much music that I just try to find as many new songs as possible if I could name a song I don’t think I could. But I advise you to go listen to the unofficial Romanian anthem which is called Made in Romania by Ionut Cercel, is a very good song that I recommended 100%.

A letter to your FUTURE self. What would you write? 

Keep doing what you’re doing man. Never give up, be patient and all the good things shall come to you if you stay on your lane and you keep on grinding. Just do your thing and everything will be just fine, I assure you of that. I can’t give you any spoilers because it’s too big to even comprehend but I assure you that you’ll be in the spot that you wish and well deserve.

VALENTIN POPESCU