International Women's Day 2017: This all-girls skateboarding crew was featured in a viral music video
The video for the new Wild Beasts track 'Alpha Female' features Atita Verghese and her all-girls skateboarding crew. Here's what you need to know about the girls on wheels
Editor's note: This is among a series of stories we're publishing in the run-up to International Women's Day in 2017
The UK-based quartet Wild Beasts make a stylistic pivot on Boy King, the British band’s fifth album and follow-up to 2014’s well-received Present Tense. The alt-band's new album was born out of jamming sessions with Disclosure and the influence can be heard through most of the tracks like 'Big Cat' and 'Tough Guy.'
But what is making waves is the new video for their synth-rock track 'Alpha Female,' and the band doesn't even appear in the video. Instead director Sasha Rainbow turns the camera on a group of bad-ass women who (a few of them in saris) are seen waltzing through the streets of Bengaluru on skateboards. The women, all real skaters, come from the Girl Skate India and Holystoked crews, and the resulting video is an inspiring watch.
Sasha Rainbow says about choosing the Indian skating collective for the song:
"When I first heard the song, I had the epiphany to film the growing female skateboard scene outside the Western world. In places like Afghanistan, Cambodia and India, skating has not been solidified as a male sport and therefore has had a massive cultural impact, teaching values about self empowerment through skateboarding. I thought India, with its colours and cinematic landscapes, was the place to do it.
Because of the current political climate in the West and attitudes of intolerance and sexism across the world, I wanted to create a video that celebrates everyone who takes the risk to be themselves. The Holystoked Skate Crew and the girls that I worked with are an inspiration that cuts through age, gender and class barriers. I wanted to commemorate this incredible moment in India and show how massive cultural change can start with just one person.
Meeting this remarkable community inspired me to dig deeper into their personal stories and the environment in which they developed themselves. I am now planning to return to India to film a documentary on the themes and figures involved in 'Alpha Female'."
One of the the crew's founding members, Atita Verghese is featured most prominently in the video and was among those at the forefront of the skateboarding culture in India.
Verghese tells us how she was approached by Sasha Rainbow to make the film. "Sasha approached Skateistan first and wanted to film the girls there skateboarding and since they had troubles shooting in Afghanistan, they were pointed in our direction."
Verghese has been hooked since the first time she tried skateboarding. "Freedom," she says, of what draws her to the sport. "It's you and your board and that's all. Its personal and no one can really tell you what to do... I took up skateboarding because it is an outlet of creative expression and a community building activity. To me, it means the world. There's nothing else I've spent so much of my life with and still feel so happy about. It's my first and forever love, an undying, true love to me."
What's it like being a skateboarder in India, where the sport perhaps has a niche following? "Skateboarding in India is unevenly distributed. Each city has its own style and stories of how and where they started skating. Sure it's tough when there aren't many parks and facilities to use. It's like Bengaluru is the capital for skateboarding in India currently and we have only two parks sprawled an hour-and-a-half's drive away from each other. I'm lucky and privileged to be from here but it sucks for the other skaters who've been waiting years now for their cities to keep up. To see skateboarding achieving faster progress there needs to be more support coming in from the outside as well. More parks equals more skaters and a bigger scene. Invest in skateboarding."
Girl Skate India was the first of its kind created by Verghese to help connect girls and ladies who skateboard. Apart from building a community, the aim is to also help anyone this skill without being judged, and more specifically to let women (and all other non binary genders) take to the sport dominated by men.
She says about Holystoked and Girl Skate India, "I think that bringing skateboards into anyone's life, be it a girl or boy, enriches them, gives them more confidence and exposes them to a whole new side of the world. It is also an outlet to staying young at heart no matter how old you grow in age. In this way it's a brilliant tool to use for empowerment of anyone really."
We also had to ask her about the women who managed to skateboard in saris in the 'Alpha Female' video. Is it easy?
She is as flummoxed as us by how a few of her crew members managed the feat, "Is it easy to do anything in a sari? I have no idea how so many women wear them, I can barely walk around comfortably in one."
Girls Skate India organises free skateboarding workshops, you can get in touch with them here.
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