What makes a skate spot? Is it the amount of grind boxes, rails, and ramps? Or the community of skaters that it serves?
In Malaysia, it would not be a stretch to say that proper skate facilities are few and far between, with only a few major skateparks in and around the Klang Valley.
With the situation being so, when the iconic Mont Kiara Skatepark closed in late 2019, it robbed many city folk of their only convenient option – their home, if you will. Many northern KL skaters had to get creative, being left to skate in public parks, on sidewalks, or even share the streets with less than welcoming road users.
Enter TTDI Skateboarding. The group, a loose collective of skaters from the Taman Tun Dr. Ismail area, had only officially formed late last year, but the old heads have been skating the streets of suburbia for a generation.
Ever since their Mont Kiara ‘mecca’ closed for renovations back in 2019, they reverted back to the usual haunts of Taman Za’ba and the sidewalks in the Datuk Sulaiman area. With the pandemic looming large, it only exacerbated a feeling of ‘homeless-ness’, so they knew they had to do something to address it.
It was perhaps a mix of serendipity, and pure luck, that they acquired a skate ramp to call their own.
One of the group OGs, Shaik Aqmal, recounts the tale to this JUICE writer:
“Sometime in early 2021, a buddy of mine who runs the Mont Kiara spot rings me up and says, ‘Hey man do you want to buy a ramp?’ He was selling it because they had all this new gear coming in, and was offloading it for cheap. I straight away was like, ‘How much?’
“Eventually we got it for slightly over two thousand ringgit, he gave us a good deal because that’s how much he would have gotten selling it as scrap metal. Suffice to say we had something on our hands.”
The ramp – a leftover from a previous skate comp a couple of years ago – had seen better days, but still remains in perfect working condition. Measuring a decent couple of metres and weighing well over a couple hundred kilograms, the group had now had the small matter of where to put it, and how.
After picking the empty field overlooking Jalan Aminuddin Baki in the heart of Taman Tun – “It had the right amount of space and was just perfect!” – Aqmal along with 14 other members of the TTDI Skateboarding old guard swiftly got to work.
“The one condition my buddy gave us was that we had to transport it ourselves, so we got a lorry and worked together all day to make it happen,” chronicled Aqmal.
“I’m pretty good with my hands, as I do a bunch of odd-jobs here and there, so re-assembling the ramp at the spot was just a small matter of welding it together.”
Once the deed was done, the ramp became an instant hit. Many notable skaters has since paid homage to this cosy spot, and you can find regulars posted up almost on the daily.
Despite the private nature of its acquisition, TTDI Skateboarding anointed ‘grand daddy OG’ Wan Sen speaks to the openness of the space.
“Anybody can come here and skate. Just earlier before you came, there were these two kids who came with rollerblades, and even their mom got in on the act!
“We don’t want to gate-keep the space for anyone really, if you have a positive attitude, and you want to skate, you are welcome here,” enthuses Wan Sen.
Indeed, upon my visit here on an odd Sunday, there were skaters from all walks of life and ages (some from TTDI and some from further afield) taking turns one-after-the-other, with encouragement aplenty – even if a trick doesn’t land.
After the sun had gone out, Aqmal and Wan Sen shares with me their thoughts on the future of the spot.
“Truth be told, we are in talks with the authorities to develop this space into, hopefully, a proper skatepark. There is nothing concrete at the moment, but initial discussions are showing promising signs.
“Even if this space becomes bigger and better, the group will always ensure that it stays true to the roots of skating, with none of the corporate stuff.
“We’re a group that loves to skate, and if we can help the younger generation stay onto a better path via what we love, then the community is only the better for it.”