A giant indoor skate park and activities like live tattooing and design-your-own-Vans workshops are just some of the highlights at the city's first-ever House of Vans pop-up.
I’m no skateboarder, but if I were one, I’d imagine House of Vans would be something like a wet dream: a free four-day pop-up consisting of a giant indoor skate park that welcomes skaters of all skill levels—and plays host to live skate demos all day—accompanied by a mind-blowing number of skate-adjacent activities under one roof. Think on-site tattooing; skater-style Plinko and Skee-Ball; zine-making, cartooning, screen-printing and design-your-own-Vans workshops; and a movie-going experience where you can take in 10 hours of badass skateboarding footage—on loop!—while hopping on a ramp to execute your own tricks in front of the big screen.
Taking place until Sunday (June 2) at Harbour Event Centre, the event marks the first time that Cali-based skate brand Vans has brought its House of Vans to Vancouver. The pop-up is meant to be a “physical representation” of what Vans encompasses, says Alex Auchu, marketing director at Vans Canada, and consists of interactive elements relating to skateboarding as well as art, music, street culture and action sports in general. “It brings to life this energy around the brand and helps fuel the creative community,” he explains.
At Vancouver’s House of Vans, visitors will find, yes, an indoor, obstacle-outfitted skate park ready to be broken in with kick turns, ollies and axel stalls, as well as a surrounding community market boasting local vendors like Wolf Circus and Nice Girl. There are the aforementioned ink opps (from local artists such as Boone Naka and Henry Saskatchewan) and creative workshops, too, and, upstairs, a ramp-equipped cinema and a pop-up art space presenting a retrospective of eclectic works from Vancouver-based Crack Gallery.
Performances by experimental musician John Maus and Canuck hip-hop duo 88Glam are also on the weekend’s agenda, as well as a Skate Skool clinic (taking place on Saturday and Sunday morning, with all-women sessions available) that will encourage newbies to hop on boards. Local names such as Say Hey Cafe and Strathcona Beer Company are on-site to satiate any appetites that build up from all that shredding.
As great as all this sounds, however, House of Vans does come with a caveat: Vans decided to bring the pop-up to Vancouver for the first time this year (it’s conducted similar events in Toronto and Montreal, and operates permanent House of Vans locations in cities such as Chicago and Hong Kong) as a sort-of show of consolation for moving its popular Vans Park Series from East Van’s Hastings Skatepark to Montreal this summer. (Auchu says the brand is building a skate park in Montreal for the competition, which the community there will later be able to utilize. Which is nice of them to do, I guess!)
But don’t expect Vans to peace it from Vancouver altogether after the pop-up ends, considering the region’s status as a skateboarding centre. (Locally founded Red Dragon Apparel and Antisocial Skateboard Shop both have huge followings, for instance.) “Vancouver is such a hub for action sports and creativity,” says Auchu. “We want our involvement here to be a long-term thing, so people can experience what we’re all about.”
House of Vans
When: Thursday, May 30—Sunday, June 2
Where: Harbour Event Centre (formerly Edgewater Casino), 750 Pacific Blvd.
Cost: Entry is free!