When Tatiana Kolina was growing up in Leningrad in the ’70s and ’80s, rebellious teens didn’t have access to the skating culture that was starting to take off among their American counterparts. Instead, Kolina and her cohort pushed against societal strictures by peddling Levi’s and other black-market goods on the street. Decades later, she’s still selling stuff—only now she owns a store in Adams Morgan and is one of DC’s top advocates for skateboarding.
With people newly keen on the sport due to its first-ever inclusion in the Olympics this summer, Kolina’s emporium, Spacycloud, is seeing a big bump in customers, especially girls inspired by newly minted Olympic stars Momiji Nishiya and Rayssa Leal, both medalists in women’s skateboarding at just 13 years old. Kolina also runs a group called Skate Girls Tribe, which offers lessons and social events. Skateboarding’s appeal is wide, she says, because “you don’t need much money and you don’t need to hire a coach—the street is your coach. You go out, you try it. That’s what skateboarding is all about: Anybody can do it.”
Kolina emigrated to the US in 1991, and she got interested in skate culture when her daughter was drawn to it; eventually, she taught herself how to ride a longboard. In 2018, Kolina opened Spacycloud on 18th Street. The store sells skateboards and streetwear, hosts music and other events, and offers skating lessons on a ramp in back (though it’s currently closed due to the pandemic). At first, DC’s skating community was a bit skeptical of its owner’s bona fides. “People were protective of the industry,” says Kolina, who also works as a clothing designer and—somewhat incongruously—a cybersecurity analyst. “I was older, I had an accent, I didn’t wear the right shoes.”
That didn’t last, though. Today, Spacycloud is a destination, and it has expanded to include an art gallery and Eastern European vegetarian spot featuring Russian beers, vegan pelmeni dumplings, and other dishes that nod to its proprietor’s roots.
Next, Kolina is taking skating to the Kennedy Center, curating a festival at the Reach with Washington Women in Jazz called “On Deck: Women Shredding Through Boundaries.” Running August 26 through 28, it will include DJ sets, skate lessons, live music, and film screenings—all designed to draw more women to skating and jazz. “It’s a very individual sport,” says Kolina, “but when someone falls down, everyone will come and offer help. I haven’t seen camaraderie like it anywhere.”
This article appears in the September 2021 issue of Washingtonian.