Jamie O’Brien Talks Skate World, Skate Africa, and Levi’s Skateboarding
As Levi’s continues to get more involved in skateboarding, the brand has largely taken a cue from its audience in what it puts together, whom it works with, and how it spends its money. The ads are relatable, focusing on friends tearing it up together and having a hyphy time doing it, like in the recent “Oakland Nights” spot.
And now there are the recent projects fostering skateboarding in developing parts of the world. The first of these combined the efforts of skateboarding collective HolyStoked, well-known American pros, and talented German builders from 2er to create the first free public skate park in India within a few dirty, dusty weeks. Round two was partnering with South African builders from Dope Industries and Woodies Ramps to do a similar DIY project with local skaters in the Johannesburg area. Together, they breathed new life into Edendale’s Skate World park using new components that are difficult to be pulled out for scrap.
We talked to seasoned builder Jamie O’Brien about the project and his impressions of skateboarding in South Africa.
VICE: Hi, Jamie. Could you please tell us the basics about reviving Skate World?
Jamie O’Brien: Skate World has been around for a long time, and many people have tried to manage the space, privatize it and charge an entrance fee, etc. I understand that—it takes money to maintain and look after a park that is made of wood or steel. But most skaters don’t want to pay, or can’t afford to pay, every time they go skating. So I think for this reason it didn’t work out.
The sports complex where Skate World is located has not rented out the space again, which has added to its falling apart. And local skaters have built their own wooden or steel obstacles, which have either been burned or stolen by vagrants that have taken occupancy of the surrounding buildings. Levi’s was looking for a place to upgrade in the Johannesburg area, and it just made sense to rehabilitate Skate World. Seeing wood and steel were not going to work, we decided to build something solid that couldn’t be stolen, so we went the concrete route.