Photos by Adam Przybyla
Words by Matty Penner
I was back in California when I first saw a picture of the Dowgy-Allee. I couldn’t wait to get back to Germany so I could check out Münster’s newest DIY with my own eyes. The first evening I got there, I went to go see it. It was amazing. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I heard the story behind it.
A couple weeks ago, after a sesh, I got the chance to sit down and chat with photographer Adam Przybyla and Sebastian “Sebi” Niehaus, the man who made this all possible. His brain child, aka the Dowgy Allee, is a testament to what can happen when a little curiosity, some luck, and a lot of love for the game all come together.
Curiosity was the first step because before this spot was built, it was nothing. First of all, this spot is on some obscure street that doesn’t go anywhere. And secondly, it can’t even be seen from eye level. It stands some 10 or so feet above the ground, and from down there it just looks like a big abandoned platform that is fenced off to the everyday pedestrians, which is exactly what it is. Or maybe I should, say what it was.
The first question I asked Sebi, of course, was, “So how did all this start? How did Dowgy-Allee come to be?” He laughed and then repeated the question to himself. “Well, I’ve been living here [in Münster] for six years and I used to walk by that platform every day, but I’d never been up there before. What for, you know? It was a little fenced-off place to be forgotten. It looked like nothing. And then one day I was like, you know what, I’m going to go check it out.” What he found was pure potential with it’s foundation made of good concrete. It had to, however, be uncovered first, for the thing looked like a jungle.
The very next day Sebi came back with a few of his friends and they started to clean the place up – scraping off the moss, pulling weeds, clearing away all the over-hanging greenery. “It was completely spontaneous,” Sebi said. “I had no idea what was going to become of this, I just wanted to get started.”
After two days the place was bare and ready to go. This is where a little bit of luck came in because when they had just started the first quarter pipe, the owner of the platform, which lays on German Bahn (state-owned) property, came over to see what all that ruckus was. After Sebi told him his plan, the guy was not O.K. with it, he was actually all for it! He told them, “I can see that you guys are giving it your all, and that is really cool. As long this place doesn’t become some huge enterprise – no big contests or anything- you gladly have my permission to keep going.”
The only thing that they had to wait for was the green light from his insurance company so nobody would get sued in case of injury. Once that was cleared, it was pedal to the metal. At first there was little direction. “I knew I wanted a quarter pipe and a pole jam, but that was it, so that’s where we started.” Sebi said. From there he made a little sketch for what he thought might work. Then he called on his board of directors, aka his friends, so that they could talk everything over. “It was the usual things – is this good here, that there, should this be steeper, mellower, shorter, longer, and so on and so forth. Then with everyone’s suggestions, we took my plan and optimized it.”
The next problem, which was money and man hours turned out not to be a problem at all. Actually it was a blessing in disguise and maybe the best thing that ever happened to the Münster skate scene, which was once separated. When the whisper of a new spot in Münster spread throughout the skate community, it changed everything.
“It wasn’t as if there was ever really beef between the different crews in Münster,” Sebi said. “We just didn’t get together to go skating.” Adam nodded his head along, “Yeah. It used to be crew here, crew there, but ever since he started on this spot,” he said pointing at Sebi, “everybody wanted in. Everybody wanted to help. All crews band together, donated their money, and gave their time in order make Sebi’s vision a reality. We all just wanted to skate it. Together. And the skate atmosphere here in Münster hasn’t been that way in forever.”
Over the next three and a half months the newly-consolidated crew went to work from sun up to sun down. It was all measured with the eye and shaped by the hand, without forms whatsoever. “The spot,” Sebi said, “is completely DIY. From conception to it’s completion, we made this happen.”
When the last piece was finally finished and dried, the Dowgy-Allee got a visit from the Welcome team for the first ever session. “I remember we were down on the ground, you know where you can’t see anything. And when they came up the stairs, they were like, ‘What!’ You should have seen their faces. All of them. They were stoked.” Dakota Hunt went even so far as to say that it was the best DIY he ever skated. A few weeks later the Santa Cruz team was there, then Raven Tershy and his crew, and most recently Louie Barletta and the Enjoi team. “It was the best promotion you could get with all these guys. We’ll see who comes next?”
Who comes next may still be up in the air, but the plan for what comes next is already set in motion. “It’ll keep going forward,” Sebi said, referring to the back half of the platform that is still free for the building. “We’re definitely not done. This isn’t the end. There’s still a bunch of shit to come.”
In the mean time it has become the next, new meeting spot in Münster, but only after 5 o’clock! Behind the trees and shrubbery is a building that belongs to the Deutsche Bahn and Sebi made it off limits to skate during working hours so that they wouldn’t disrupt the people who allowed them to build and skate the spot. “It’s a respect thing. It’s all about respect.” That also has to do with how the DIY got its name. When I asked him why it’s called Dowgy-Allee, he said, “This is like our own dog park and we’re the dogs. All we want is our own little place to have fun where, like dogs, we don’t bother anyone and nobody bothers us.”
If you want to keep up with what’s going on at the Dowgy Allee, check out its Instagram: @dowgyallee