To celebrate International Women's Day, here's a piece from Amber Edmondson covering the great looking Projekts Girl's Night!
Piled-high reports, back-to-back meetings, deadlines that I swear jumped from two weeks away to tomorrow in the blink of an eye. It’s Thursday afternoon, there’s one day of the week left and work is stressing me out... but it’s Thursday, and that means Girls’ Night. Not a stuck-in-the-80s-cocktail-bar night, but a night where women take over the skatepark. For two hours, every Thursday, nothing else matters. No stress, no responsibility, no clients and no deadlines and no reports: just me, my skateboard and whatever challenge I set myself. Some people go to the gym, some people do yoga or kickboxing– I skate, and I absolutely love it.
Girls Night Group
The Girl-skate boom
The girls’ skateboarding scene is blowing up globally, and Manchester is no different. Girls’ nights are popping up at skateparks up and down the country, with good reason. Since Projekts relaunched Girls’ Night in June 2017, the number of female visitors to the park has increased by nearly 2000% when compared to its original launch back in 2012. The event is so popular that Projekts has started running weekly women-only coaching sessions in an attempt to keep up with demand and give proper support to the girl-skate community. Now, every Thursday evening, both sides of Projekts are full and the atmosphere is electric. You’ll find as many as 60 girls and women shredding their hearts out. All ages, abilities, styles, races and religions with one thing in common: they’re here to skate.
Looking around you’ll see 360 degrees of friendship, determination and bravery. The clatter of skateboards, mixed with laughter and cheers, bounces around the concrete park in all directions. Regulars excitedly pay in, grab equipment and roll out. Newcomers nervously take their first steps onto a board encouraged by friends and coaches. Further back in the park, pockets of girls take turns practising kick-turns, ollies and heelflips, watching each other’s approach and swapping techniques.
What does Girls’ Night mean to the women who attend?
I went for a little roll around the park and asked some of the skaters why they kept coming back to Girls’ Night week after week. Laura was skating a line the length of the skatepark but she took a break so that we could have a quick chat. “Despite usually being the oldest one, I have a great time and I don't feel anyone is judging me or staring at me like I'm some sort of weirdo!”
Monica is one of the coaches and helps the girls’ with anything from their first try at stepping on a board to their first time dropping in. “Girls’ Night is a good place to learn new things in a safe and supportive environment. Everyone's really friendly and it's a great place to meet other women who skateboard”.
Claire said she came each week “to see friends and meet new girl skaters”. Then she said, “It's important to support what people are doing to encourage more girls to skate.”
Katie is 30 and told me she has only been coming to Girls’ Night since November. “I come because on some level I've always wanted to learn to skateboard but at no point was it a part of my life. I come to Girls’ Night because its open to beginners, it’s a friendly atmosphere and there are all different levels represented, right from total beginners to very experienced. It’s a set time every week that I know the skatepark will be exactly what I need it to be.”
Supporting Girls’ Skateboarding
Girls’ skating needs investment for it to flourish, and it’s down to the whole industry to provide that support. At grassroots, that means the local skateparks creating a safe and encouraging environment for girls and women to forge their fledgling relationships with skateboarding.
Since the relaunch of Girls’ Night, Projekts has tripled its female coaching staff: coaches who “not only coach to a high standard but also constantly push the boundaries of the sessions and event nights and generally supporting, befriending and inspiring any women or girls who come down to the park” (Jonny Rose, Projekts Coaching Manager). Projekts has massively supported Manchester’s girl-skate community, and for these efforts, the community loves Projekts back. Girls’ Night has quickly become Projekts’ busiest and most popular night, with between 20 and 60 girls and women attending the extended 4-hour Girls’ Night session that takes place once a month. Just behind this, the women-only coaching sessions are the second-biggest night.
If you’re wondering if Girls’ Night is for you or you’ve always wanted to skate but never felt able to, then come down and check it out. Even if you’re just looking for something new to try. If you’re a female skater, check out the Girls’ Night at your local skatepark. If they don’t run one, then badger them until they do. It’s great for girls’ skating and, frankly, it’s great for business.
If you work at a skatepark and are thinking about putting on a Girls’ Night, then the message is clear: Build it and they will come. Invest in supporting the girl-skate community, and that community will organically become your supporters in return.
Hayley and Eccles
To find out more about Projekts’ Girls’ Night, click here.
If you’d like to attend, just turn up to Manchester Projekts:
First Thursday of the month, 5pm-9pm.
All other Thursdays, 7pm-9pm.