Chinese female skateboarder breaks gender rules to prove longboarding isn’t just for guys

Chinese female skateboarder breaks gender rules to prove longboarding isn’t just for guys

Not only is skateboarding going to be at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, break-dancing will be added to the programme in 2024

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With more than half a million followers on social media, Mu, 21, is one of longboarding’s biggest stars in the mainland. Bigger and easier to manoeuvre than a skateboard, users say a longboard allows for a smoother and more comfortable ride.
Photo: AFP

Longboarder Mu Qing skates through the mega-city of Chengdu in China’s southwest, deftly dancing on and off her ride as a friend tails her from behind, filming on a smartphone.

With more than half a million followers on social media, Mu, 21, is one of longboarding’s biggest stars in the mainland.

She is among a growing group of young women in the country posting videos of their boarding adventures – tens of thousands of views on individual clips is the norm – giving the sport an unprecedented level of exposure.

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It mirrors a similar trend in the West where the #girlscanride hashtag has gained popularity on social media, with many posting pictures of traditionally male-dominated sports like dirt-biking, skateboarding, and BMX.

Bigger and easier to manoeuvre than a skateboard, longboarders say it allows for a smoother and more comfortable ride, many using it in their daily commutes.

On Tik Tok, Mu puts up footage of herself riding around Chengdu performing stunts – twirling on and off her board – and even outtakes where she falls off. Her most popular videos attract millions of views.

“In the beginning, I thought [longboarding] was something that only delinquents would be involved in but after I met another female skater, I realised that the sport is not limited by gender,” Mu said.

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Street culture elsewhere – which includes rap and graffiti art – is often used to expose social ills or dissatisfaction with the status quo. But in the mainland, where tattoos and even make-up can be considered politically sensitive or inappropriate, there seems little chance of that happening.

Most of Mu’s skating videos are in a style known as “longboard dancing”. Many of her fans from across the country are young and female.

“I am following her style [of skating] now, because I have seen her video, it feels that her style is relatively smooth, unlike someone who also falls off the board,” said Ten, a 17-year-old longboarder based in Beijing.

Mu is one of a growing group of young women in China posting videos of their longboarding adventures.
Photo: AFP

With skateboarding set to make its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and break-dancing to be added to the programme in 2024, what was once seen as a niche subculture is gradually entering the mainstream.

“Skateboarding and longboarding are not limited to either gender,” Mu said.

“Whether you’re a guy or a girl … 30 or 40 years old, you can take part in this sport. There is no limit to it, and even girls can perform very well.”

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Carving out a niche

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