Juan La Torre is a Low Pro Hero to the bone. Not only is Juan a ripping skater, but he is also the kind of guy that contributes to his local scene, which by the way just so happens to be one of the biggest all time skate meccas in history, Barcelona. Juan was repping his scene way before the Americans companies came over and so arrogantly acted like they discovered it. Through the years Juan has traveled far and wide skating new spots, making new friends and getting better with every push. These days Juan shows no sign of slowing down, whether he’s running Free Skate Shop, shooting photos, playing s.k.a.t.e at MACBA, writing for local magazines or just chilling at the local bar throwing back a few cervezas, Juan will continue to be a vital part of the Spanish skateboard scene. Thus we present to you Juan La Torre – Low Pro Hero!
Hola Juan, que tal?
-How is the June weather out there in Barcelona?
It´s warm but not too hot for not skating and the beach season is on. The city becomes beautiful in the summer, people seems to be happier, skate sessions are longer and there are even more things to do than the rest of the year, the night life is also nicer… So it feels like we are almos living in paradise.
Since I was born, 31 years ago. My dad comes from Perú, and my mom is 100% Barcelonian. I was born here. I traveled a lot for skatebarding, and there was a time when I wanted to live in another country, just for trying it, just to know how it felt. I travelled around Europe a few times, and I went to U.S. three times too, I lived in California for a while, well, there was a long vacation of 3 months, and 2 shorter ones of 1 month and a half each. Last time I went to America was on 2001, N.Y….I love that city, if I had to change my city for another one would be New York, a bit arfraid for the cold winters there but….whatever.
But in the end, Barcelona will be number one for me forever.
-I remember meeting you at Macba a few years ago. It was so crazy. There were so many skaters, all day and all night. How has the Macba scene changed over the past few years?
Macba scene is pretty much the same, lots of people coming every day, good sessions, good kebaps, good games of s.k.a.t.e., good times. The cops were extra hard the last couple of weeks, they didn´t want us to skate, well, it depended on the day, I went there last tuesday and I skated the whole day, and a lot of cops were passing by…they didn´t say shit. The thing is that there are elections, and until it will be done there are a lot of cops specially in downtown being a pain in the ass…
-Tell us a crazy story from Macba.
I have a lot, the craziest one is about a fight between myself vs 5 mother fuc****…. It was so stupid, typical thieves who just want to hang out at Macba, take someone´s bag, get in fights, sniff some glue maybe…hate them. The reason was that they didn´t like me basically, they insulted me and I couldn´t shut up…some screaming, some pushing, and some punching..haha. I´m too old for this stuff…my body hurted for a week, it´s not worth it. I promised myself to not do it never again.
The only thing about Barcelona that makes me feel ashamed are the thieves, the cops shouldn´t care about skaters, they should be harder with all the fucking thieves.
-Over here in the U.S. we’ve all heard the rumors about Macba being a super bust. Are the rumors true?
Like I said before, it´s been tough, but we´ll know how it will be after the elections.
-How long have you been running the store “Free”?
I´ve been working at Free since many years ago, but it was the last 5 years when I took some more responsabilities like being the skateboard goods and sneakers buyer for the 4 stores, collaborating for buying the clothing as well, managing the store in downtown and coordinating the staff at that store.
I also collaborate with a Skate/streetwear magazine called Uno mag. I write some stuff for them, it´s nice because I have the chance of comunicating my knowledge through this magazine and it´s an extra income also, it´s perfect.
-You’re a serious workaholic, where do you find the time to skate?
Yes, I work a lot, sometimes it feels like too much, but I try to take a breath with my skateboard at least twice a week. Tuesdays and sundays are sacred.
-From a Spanish retailers perspective, how do you feel about European companies versus US companies?
When skateboarding started in Spain, like 25 years ago, we had to consume and learn from the American skating, it´s completely normal since skateboarding was born in U.S.
We just skated and learned from you guys, but now we grew up, skated for many years and learned all the rules. So it´s time to make our own companies and try to get our piece of the cake. American brands have eternal life, but skateboarding has changed a lot and grew up a lot too, so I think there is space for everyone.
-Do you feel that the American companies give back to the skate scene overseas or just take away from it?
Some American brands are trying to go in the European market doing European teams and everything, trying to show that they care of European skaters, but my opinion is that they are not doing it properly. Time will tell.
-There are so many incredible skaters in Spain. Why do you feel that Spanish skaters have such a hard time getting recognized?
It´s getting better all the time, it was impossible to get money from skating in Spain a few years ago, but now there are a lot of people who´s getting some cash. Not too much, but i hope it will get better, some spanish pros are killing it with their skating but they are strugling financially too, it´s sad.
It´s allways been the same, if you want to make good money being a pro, you have to move to America, and have the right contacts too, but it´s changing, little by little.
-Do you think it’s possible for a Spanish skater to ever become as big as Danny Way or Rob Dyrdek without living in the US?
I think we are far away from that, I had dinner with Steve Douglas and with the guys who carry the dwindle stuff in spain a couple of weeks ago, he gave me some info about how much is getting a very well known pro skater in U.S. and I was very surprised. I knew that the pros who have also tv shows were getting a lot of money, but not that crazy. Maybe if some European skater gets a t.v. show or somethig will become as rich as Bam Margera but….. it´s weird, when a pro gets famous and rich and it has nothing to do with his skating….it´s weird. Maybe is that the European mindstate is different than the American one…who knows…
You have been ripping for a long time as well. Are you still being flowed product from any companies?
Yep, Nike Sb is helping me with shoes and with photo incentives, and the guys who carry Ambiguous clothing gives me some stuff and I help them to build a spanish team, I get photo incentives from Free skateshop too.
Who are some of your favorite skaters from Spain?
My friend Enrique Lorenzo, he had the bravery for leaving his house, his city, his family and friends and follow a dream, and he made it. Best style ever.
There are a lot more, Jesus Fernandez, I look up to him a lot because he is pushing the limits constantly…There is a guy called Xavi Benguerel, you´ll hear this name again…
Do you have any advice for American skaters that want to live, work and skate in Spain?
Much love to my partner in crime Jenny, and to my mom, dad and brother. Big thanks to everyone in the skate comunity who helped me a long the way, and in the present: Free skateshop family. Ivan Jimenez at Nike sb Spain. Tilo, Stefan and all the German fellas at Aveal Clothing and Jordi from Action Factory distribution. Holla to all my friends from all over the place, and specially to Tim, thanks for giving me that oportunity!
Can you give us an intertnational Low Pro Hero Quote?
Try to be happy without being selfish, and never quit skating!