Skateboarding has always been a means to exploration and travel, as seen in recent snippets from Carhartt WIP’s skate trip to Cuba or the Alltimers’ adventures in Barcelona. The sport exudes an energy that transcends language barriers, as the satisfaction of seeing your peers finish a trick after 30 tries speak volume on its own.
“You don’t need to know the same language in the skate world to communicate, because skateboarding is already a language,” said professional skater Dan Leung on a humid afternoon in the hustles of Bangkok. His teammate, Jasper Dohrs nodded in agreement. Both skaters grew up in multicultural upbringings. Dan was born in Hong Kong to a Scottish mother and Cantonese father, before relocating to Shanghai where he grew up gliding the marble foyers and underpasses of skyscrapers. While Jasper, was raised in Seattle to a diet of TransWorld SKATEboarding and Thrasher magazines before heading to his mother’s hometown of Bangkok once his high school education was finished.
In conversation, the two switch between their native tongues and the languages of their newly reside homes, mixed with a heavy dose of hyper-colloquial skate slang. But even if they weren’t able to communicate in the most traditional sense, the chemistry and casual style of both skaters relay a sensibility of its own, often causing crowd frenzies, as it did this one afternoon during a New Balance Numeric wear test.
Having frequented skateboarding mainstays Thrasher in addition to fronting their sponsors Helas, 30 Purse and New Balance Numeric, both have cemented their place in the genre as ones-to-watch in Asia, while also garnering the attention of patrons from across the pond in the West Coast. Yet, with Bangkok, Shanghai and Hong Kong having a much smaller scene compared to that of the sport’s birthplace, skaters are faced with restrictions that could hamper their creative growth, but Dan assures us that the limitations work only as a catalyst, “The kids here are fucking hungry because there’s less options so they’re killing it.”
We catch up with both Dan and Jasper after a long day tackling the unpredictable side streets of Bangkok to learn more about how the sport strives in the often overlooked regions in Asia.