Does skateboarding have a future at Southbank

Words by Henry Edwards-Wood

Photo’s courtesy of Dom Marley

Mark ‘Fos’ Foster one foots London’s most prestigious spot.

fosheroinskateboardssouthbankThis Wednesday (23rd February 2011) saw what will hopefully be the first of many Southbank user meetings at the Royal Festival Hall. The meeting was organised by the Southbank Centre and its aim was to open communications between themselves and the skateboarding community who use the Undercroft area.

Before the meeting I was fearful that we would be told that Southbank was going to be shut down or we were to be relocated to some crappy skate park somewhere else, a fear shared by my fellow SB locals and London skateboarders alike. However the other meeting attendees and I were pleasantly surprised. It seems as though Southbank is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and what’s more the SB authorities have said they will work closely with the skaters to improve the space.

It was established that BMX riders did not care about SB as there was not one present at the meeting. We spoke about the serious injury a BMXer caused a pedestrian last year and voiced how BMXers are dangerous and ignorant and should have no place in the Undercroft (as it used to be). The skateboarders were also quick to ask why graffiti had been allowed to take place in Southbank for the past four years. The organisers had no idea that we objected to the graffiti, in fact they thought we loved it as it was part of the “urban culture” that everyone so easily pigeon holes us into. The meeting organisers, Julia Sawyer and John Gray were very receptive to these revelations and have vowed to address the graffiti situation as well as to look at banning BMXers from riding at Southbank.

Other topics that were discussed were better lighting, replacing the original railings and adding barriers to separate the public, more bins, the temporary beach that will be opposite the Undercroft in the summer and CCTV that will be installed. They also said that they would provide us with squeegees and other equipment for us to dry the floor when it is wet down there, which is a result.

Andrew Brophy floats one of his legendary ollies high above the rubble.

AndrewBrophyolliesouthbankskateboarding

These meetings will now be held quarterly and there is talk of setting up a page on the Southbank Center website to allow for the skateboarding public to be kept up to date with the goings on in the Undercroft. Some changes will be almost instant, some will be more long term, but the bottom line is that Southbank isn’t going anywhere!

Overall this is a massive result and a good start to what will hopefully become a strong alliance with the Southbank Centre authorities. The notes from the meeting will be written up and emailed to the attendees so keep your ears peeled for more info on the changes to our beloved Undercroft.

Scroll down to comment on this first session or discuss it on our facebook page.

Nike SB’s ‘The Bird Is The Word’ Demo

Bay 66, London
Wednesday 30th June
Photos by Pip and Stan

Arriving in a tour bus so impressively colourful it bordered on the ridiculous, the Nike SB team you’d think the team weren’t simply going to turn up and just skate Bay 66. Except that’s exactly what they did, but then it’s also exactly what they didn’t. You see, when you’re dealing with the likes of Cory Kennedy, P-Rod, Shane O’Neill and the rest of the Nike flock, just watching them skate and have a blast is much more exciting than any pre-meditated things they could have possibly had in mind.

Chilled-out unpredictability was the theme of the night, as the team started out on the funbox and just not stopping from there. Cory had a lot of fun, pulling out the hammers as if they were penny sweets and throwing nollie front foot flips and nollie inward heels as casual as less-reputable dork tricks like an -amazing- benihana, all stomped down smiling. Shane O’ Neill had his back in a similar cap with some ludicrous stuff for someone who supposedly cracked a rib at the CPH. Could have fooled me, Nugget was on some stylish THPS trip, with a 360 flip nosewheelie on the awkward snake-shaped manual pad and a first-try 720 flip on the hip. Sure it took him a little longer to film it, but landing something like that while just cruising around isn’t messing about.

Every time P-Rod dropped in the camera-carrying massive threw themselves in his direction, his absolutely relentless delivery of trick after trick after trick, just got progressively sicker each time. The height over the funbox was pure jokeshop shit, P-Rod has the moon gravity cheat built into his shoes I’m sure. How about a switch front blunt first try? Backtail kickflip out down the hubba? The goods were coming through like no tomorrow. Daryl Angel came through and was the only one to really hit up the – admittedly enormous – drop ledge, mach-ten baby!

The highlights were from Ishod Wair (on a high fresh from delivering the best First Try Friday that’s ever been filmed at The Berrics) and Younes Amrani who both hit everything in sight. Ishod’s catch was felt by every member of the audience who all shared some vicarious radness, and Younes’ manual madness was exactly that, madness. There competition for best trick wasn’t a small one, but I think Younes’ nosegrinds along and down the ledge took the entire biscuit tin.

The UK squad held it down with the best of them too, Korahn Gayle did his thing, Chris Jones killed it with a huge tailslide, Snowy laid some smooth-jams on the funbox and Smithy smashed up both the funbox and the hubba.

Wieger just cruised like he owned the joint and occasionally dropped a few high-speed bombs, Salazar took flight on the ski jump and watching Lance Mountain skate anything is nothing short of magic.

Bay 66 was going off louder than a bomb, but ignoring the hundreds of people and the giant Nike SB tour bus outside it really was just a regular Wednesday session. Cory Kennedy had a game of SKATE with about 40 kids and there wasn’t a frown to be found. Good vibes, amazing skating and a bus covered in birds. Same time next Wednesday yeah?