Latvian Labor!

Ed Gabarajevs is from Latvia originally, where he still breaks sweat over his local website Rajon TV (an enterprise you might have caught a glimpse of on here before; "rajon" translates to "projects", by the way - the ones of the housing kind), and now he just sent LIVE Skateboard Media his latest montage, starring a pretty crazy D.I.Y. concrete spot made possible by Madars Apse.

"Oasis" is an urban island of a home-made skatepark that's getting skated in ways just as crazy as the looks of the place in Riga, the capital city of Latvia, the construction of which was funded by local hero Madars Apse by the means of some not especially healthy drink sponsorship, who also came all the way with friends from over the world to help build the spot. The place goes by the designation VEF, and Ed felt like sharing some insider info about it so let's hand him the mic!

"VEF is the name of a - once glorious - electronics factory in the heart of Riga the capital of Latvia. In its heyday, its product line ranged from telephones to airplanes; the miniature photo camera MINOX is what eventually brought worldwide fame to the factory, since it was then rumored to be equipment for the secret services. At one point, VEF appliances could be found all over the world, from Cuba to Mongolia, and it was a stable workplace for 20,000 people at its peak performance times. After the collapse of the Soviet union, the demand for VEF's products declined as the factory could not compete with imported electronic goods, and it was forced to shut down. 

In the naughts, the whole city block that used to comprise the factory turned into a semi-abondoned post-industrial wasteland - but what is a wasteland to some can be a playground to others. The place attracted artists, ravers and skateboarders. One of the shop floors was turned into an indoor skatepark called VEF Indoor, which later became the main skate hub of the country.

"Little oasis hidden amidst the urban desert"

It was a great park with a skateshop, only skaters went there and it strongly boosted the scene. At that time Madars Apse, our local hero, got some money from his sponsors and was looking for a place to build a D.I.Y. park, so it was quite obvious that VEF's territory was chosen as at the time it was the main skate hub. There also happened to be an old fountain right in front of the indoor just asking to become a D.I.Y.


Fricis Štrauss up there, somewhere only a few touched... Ph.: Nauris Dollins

So it was settled. Madars got some friends from abroad to come over and help with the concrete work; local manpower was involved as well. Madars got some real pool coping too, which we had only seen in movies before!

It took a bit more than ten days before the project was finished. The locals were beyond stocked on the results! At that time, it was the first D.I.Y. park and also the first concrete skatepark in Riga, so sessions went on and on.

It isn't easy to skate so once you figure it out, you're hooked. Guys would bring the barbecue out of the indoor park and stay up late. The location made the spot private; it is in the middle of the factory's slab, surrounded by bushes everywhere, no one is coming to bother you, it's perfect. Little oasis hidden amidst the urban desert.


Madars Apse, frontside feeble. Ph.: Alessandro Volpin

Nowadays, VEF is home to various businesses, offices and fancy night clubs. I can't remember the last time I heard about any raves there. And the D.I.Y. spot is mostly inhabited by clerks during lunch breaks, since the indoor got shut down couple of years ago (now it's a fitness shop or something).

Nevertheless, the D.I.Y. still stands strong, the concrete is solid and you can feel the friction there. It is still a amazing place to skate and when we have visitors in Riga, VEF D.I.Y. is one of the main spots they are taken to!"

Check out an article about the spot on Ed's Rajon website, here!

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