NATURAL KONCEPT TOUR HITS THE UKRAINE
For the next leg of our Natural Koncept tour we hit up Ukraine. Arriving in Kiev’s central station is much like entering Grand Central and then walking out to a massive crowd of people in Times Square. Complete mayhem.
I cashed in my Russian Rubles for Ukrainian Hryvnia’s and was off to hit the streets with Popeye, Artem, Dima and Andrew and a few other new skate friends from Big Toys Skateboard Distribution. After an entire day of skating the amazing marble sculptures throughout the city streets and filming non-stop we relaxed and drank beers in the gorgeous central square known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti. I was staying just a short walk away in a tiny hostel.
A worldwide event known as Go Skateboarding Day takes place on the first official day of summer – June 21st. Spending this day in Kiev was rad! Like Moscow’s “Wild in the Streets” over a thousand skaters gathered in Maidan Square to kick off the event. Money and prizes were thrown out for best tricks at three different locations in the city with packs of skateboarders taking over Khreshchatyk Street, which is the Broadway of Kiev.
A premiere of Natural Koncepts’ latest film “Creepin’ for Life” took place at Big Toys Distribution the last night in Kiev. Pretty much the entire Kiev skate scene showed up and watched the film and then skated the mini ramp. It was awesome. Popeye won the best trick contest with endless trickery on the ramp. He’s a skateboard legend from Kiev and he proved why it’s his city.
Later that night we climbed a sketchy ladder, snuck onto a rooftop in central Kiev and downed beers and kicked back while overlooking this amazing city. We finished the night at a tattoo parlor where I got the “KNiB” (Ukrainian spelling of Kiev) tatted on my lower leg. Tipsy to say the least I just advised my artist friend to write it freehand in skinny black letters the way he would script it on any written document. Shit hit the fan when he tried to shade in the 4 letters. I stood up and said “It’s finished, it looks good.”
This did not fly for him! He said if he was going to tattoo me that he wanted to shade it (apparently that’s his signature technique). It took 15-minutes of arguing to explain I didn’t want a grey shading along the thin black letters and a fight nearly broke out. He felt disrespected. Note to self: late night tattoos in foreign countries can possibly not end well.
The local skaters had my back and dissolved the conflict. The next evening I was on an overnight train to Odessa, which is the 3rd largest city of Ukraine and located along the Black Sea. The excitement of this Eastern European Extravaganza was building rapidly and at this moment I felt uber inspired!