Stratford Centre – Skaters Heaven

Skaters, Stratford, Stratford Centre, community, Shopping Mall, youth, kids, London

Skaters in Stratford Centre

There is a very special place… in a totally unexpected place. An all night skating party people haven and heaven just opposite the Westfield in Stratford. The old Stratford shopping centre which has lost of its aura since its posh rival opened its windy doors for the 2012 Olympics but has very much gained in spirit since! Every evening after the shops roll down their steel shutters, the shopping mall becomes a hub for skaters, roller skaters, dancers and everybody passing by as it is a public way and has to remain open all night.

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There is an extraordinary atmosphere at night in Stratford Centre. The sound of the skateboards, of the music coming out sound systems, the laughs and the joy of people being together, enjoying something together are magic. I have never seen anything like that in London. Apparently, it’s been going on for four years, J tells me. He was one of the first ones to take over the place at night. “There were about 8 of us at the beginning. We were looking for a warm and safe place to roller skate”, he says. Then, it grew, friends of friends turned up. Kids from every background and areas of London. “It’s a safe place, it’s better to be here than hang around on the streets”, Alex, 17, tells me. “I am here almost every night. I even met my girlfriend here!”. Love story in Shopping Centre.

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But what does the security have to say about it? Surprise surprise! They are very happy with the kids being around. “It’s much better for them to be here than outside and tempted by gangs”, a security madam tells me. “And we have CCTVs so everybody feels safe here”, she adds. They way she and her colleagues watch the skaters is sincere, and even maternal…

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The Stratford Centre at night is definitely a place that reconciles you with humanity and which is not threatened – a rarity in London…

Discover a great little video from Grégoire Bernardi

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