It's Sunday night in Florianopolis, Brazil, and a BBQ is brewing in the backyard of two-time X Games gold medalist Pedro Barros. First, a few friends show up to skate the bowl he, his dad and longtime friend and Brazilian skate pro Leo Kakinho designed and built in 2009. Then someone shows up with meat. Someone else, no one can recall really, shows up with beer. And water. And bread. "And then we turn on the lights and it's a barbecue," Barros says. "Before you know it, it's midnight on a Sunday."
But it might as well be Thursday or Saturday or even a Wednesday. The Barros backyard -- or more accurately, that incredible bowl and the deck, concrete, bleacher-style seating and covered bar surrounding it -- has become the epicenter of the skate scene here in the Florianopolis neighborhood of Rio Tavares where Barros grew up and learned to skate. Most nights, some afternoons and heck, even a morning or two, it's not uncommon to find 10 or 20 locals ripping the bowl, playing music and tossing a few back, sometimes sans Pedro. "The gate is always open here," Barros says. "People can come in and skate whenever they want. It's always been like that."
Just down the hill at the Pousada Hi Adventure, the skate-themed inn owned by his godfather, Rafael Bandarra, Barros first learned to drop into a bowl -- he was 4 -- and fell in love with skateboarding. Because there are few skateparks on the island and even fewer street spots, the Hi Adventure bowl was where Barros skated after school, and after surfing, every day. These days, it's where the young skaters of Florianopolis hone their skate skills before graduating to the bowl in Pedro's backyard. It's also where Barros spends much of his time when he's not on the road. The Hi Adventure is walking distance to the surf break nearest his house and serves, "the best acai bowl in town."
This evening, however, it's the Barros Bowl that's buzzing with energy. Kids as young as 8 are skating right alongside their older brothers and dads and the flow of onlookers is constant. Pedro's father, Andre, waits to drop in each time his son finishes a run, seemingly unaware his kid is one tough act to follow. "It's such a good vibe," says Barros, who learned English and to skate bigger parks and street during the three years (from ages 6-9) he and his dad lived in Australia. "The kids are having so much fun, living the lifestyle. They don't have to go to a shopping center skatepark where security tells them what to do or what to wear. They can be themselves and they get to see their dads skate. That's how I grew up skating. It's such a community in Brazil. That's why I love living here." And it's a community that's growing.
"A couple years ago, if you came to my house, you might see five people skating this bowl, and there wouldn't be many little kids," Barros says. "It'd be just me and a couple of friends, because it was hard for kids to learn to skate on my ramps and in my bowl. Then we put up a mini ramp at the Pousada and the kids started skating it. Now you see tiny kids, 6 and 8 years old, starting to rip." And one of them is patiently waiting to drop next.
A photo essay on Pedro's life in Florianopolis will appear in the April 15 Photo Issue of ESPN The Magazine. And don't forget to watch Barros compete in Skateboard Park at X Games Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, April 18-21.