The good folk at Freestyle Skateparks are up to their knees in mud (and snow) this week whilst the concrete is pouring on the all-new Level park in Brighton. No transitions have been sprayed yet so it’s still very much a building site, but here are some images for you to have a look over including the latest update of the visual with the central ‘spine’ of the bowl rolled over and a 30ft half pipe.
I think that you will agree that she is looking mighty fine.
You would thought that the council would have at least coughed up for lighting the proposed new park at The Level. It seems that this has been left to the locals though as a fund raiser party has been arranged on Friday 1st March at the Latest Music Bar, 14-17 Manchester Street in Brighton with proceeds from the £5 entry going towards the costs.
‘Let There Be Light‘ will have live music will come from DUB ORGANISER feat THE RESONATORS and Guests plus DJ sets from ROOTS GARDEN, DJ FORMAT, FIDEL CUTSTRO, THEORY 77 and DJ INSIGHT will be the order of the night. Guests will also be able to see the brand new Level design plans, a raffle will be going down and more. Pu it in your diary and start saving your pounds.
The South Coast has always produced a variety of interesting degenerates within the skateboard scene. Some say that it must be the sea air that assists the extraordinary to achieve such valuable creativity, or maybe there’s some sort of phytogenetic seed that is carried through each generation that stimulates the next batch of skateboarders to be as extrovert as the last.
Brighton’s scene is full of said personalities, so who better to discuss them with other than local skate photographer Richard West. Rich is 24, an email buddy of Beyonce’s and would tell you himself that he is one of life’s ‘failed skateboarders’. Somehow, Rich was nominated to capture Brighton’s vibrant skateboard scene because he loves taking photographs, and he does it very well.
“I started shooting photos at about the age of 19 but I have no idea how I got sucked into it. Something made me want to start though, so I spent a few years studying at Brighton, which was rad. I guess it was a standard situation where I didn’t do enough work, even though and I now wished I had, but that’s hindsight for you.”
Most photographers would admit to waking up daily with a desire to push forward. Rich is no different. There’s always another spot to find, and even a new angle on an old one too.
“If I was to describe my style of shooting I would say OTT, verging on obsessive compulsive. If I see something that I feel is wrong, I will go insane. I won’t show anyone anything until I feel it’s to a standard where I feel it might be OK for the human eye to see. Usually it isn’t, but sometimes it’s borderline.”
Is this behaviour what makes skateboarding exciting though? Is it natural for us to aspire to new levels of creativity? Of course it is. The best skateboard photographers out there all face this outlook. Striving to return from a trip knowing that the goods could arrive once soaked in water to swell the gelatin layer.
Thesedays, once the card is inserted into the computer and the download bar reachs completion, the goods are there to see much faster than yesteryear. Rich currently shoots on a Nikon D700. His flash setup “looks like something from a 90s skate video and it’s all tucked into a bag that looks like i’m going on holiday everytime I go out! I keep forcing myself to shoot film so I recently bought a Pentax 6×7. It’s a rad camera but a bit of a nightmare to take around.”
Speaking about the snappers that have inspired this notion of perfection, Rich believes there are actually: “far, far, far too many amazing skateboarding photographers out there! Far too many!” But the names that are mentioned include the work of Alex Burrell, Sam Muller, Brian Gaberman, Lex Kembery, Scott Pommier, Percy Dean, Wig and Rich Gilligan, to name a few. “They are all amazing, especially for their love and continual persistence to shoot film- something I wish I did a lot more.” And as the wind blows, Brighton’s finest will not make any plans and roll with the program. He certainly will not feel like a failure if they don’t work out.
Enjoy the view through Richard West’s lens in our first of many Exposed features we have lined up, where skateboard photography or film are explained by those in and around the action.
“This spot is notorious to Brighton. It’s one of the only hubba’s around the south and it’s also one of the worst things to skate. As soon as you and your board connect with its crusty haggard edge, you are almost automatically thrown straight to the floor like a sack of organs. You will be able to see this clip in an up and coming Andy Evans video which is sure to be filled with skateboarding puns and terrible 80s music.”
“Stevie Thompson officially makes the best shapes around! This Hurricane was a shot from a recent trip to Bristol and after seeing the DIY spot in footage we had to give it a go! I can’t describe how hard it was to skate! To be honest, I didn’t even bother trying, but Stevie came through. Not bad for a 37 year old! Haha!”
“This is one of the best ramps in the world (or far from it). This was shot at a place called Crowhurst. A small, pointless, uncounted-for village in the middle of nowhere, that is graced with a 11 foot rusty vert ramp bowl thing. It’s owned by a metal worker who built it for a local BMX rider that he noticed, who needed a place to ride many moons ago. It’s made from a number of rusty steel sheets of metal that have now started to come up. Just under the coping, the ramp has started to corrode away, leaving a nice hole that you have to avoid of risk falling to your rusty death! If for some reason you are in the area. you must check this thing out! It’s like nothing you will ever skate, but don’t go there on a Sunday as you will be shouted at. Oh and this is Ewen doing a trick, but who cares.”
“I recently went on a trip to Berlin with the Drawing Boards lot and it was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. Living in a gypsy wagon surrounded by hippies is essentially my worst nightmare. That said, it was a really good trip with many a trick landed. This is Jak Tonge. Watch out for the new video ‘Draw the Line’ this December, it’s sure to be good!”
“Matt Ransom is one of the biggest hippies I know. I was fed up with seeing fisheye shots of Shoreham skatepark. Yes, I know anyone who is reading this that knows me will think what a hypocrite, as I am a fisheye fiend, but that’s not the point. This was my attempt to do something different, that is actually, not that different.”
“Interesting story with this. We visited a spot before this just down the road. We had previously been warned that day of the sketchiness of the area but Ewen assured me it would be find. On arrival we took ourselves down to the spot and had a little look. Not even setting foot on out boards we hear a loud “YOU MUST BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!” We look aside to see a huge dude coming towards us squaring up to Ewen. He obviously didn’t like skateboarders, so we left. Ewen did the 5050 in about 4 goes. He’s pretty good.”
“Contradicting what I said earlier, I’m a sucker for coping fisheye photos! Haha! Well to be honest, I hate them, but hanging out with people like Craig and Jake you pretty much won’t ever be able to escape them. They are far too consumed by 80s skating which is funny and also sometimes really annoying.”
“I hate Ewen, but he does have some good tricks. Not bad for a cowboy.”
“Polejams are one of the best things to skate and a rare treat! Pat is also sick at skating even if half the time he doesn’t know what’s actually going on in front of him.”
“Jamie is an interesting dude. You can never tell where he is going to be the next day. He has a Grubb’s burger tattooed to his leg in the hope they would give him free burgers for life. Sadly they did not.”
“Joe Sandand, AKA Hastings off the forum (sorry for naming you out) is a horrible person. Not really, but he does look like the lost member of Right Said Fred! This photo was shot not too long ago, at a legendary spot called Bottle Alley, shown on ‘Britain’s Toughest Seaside Towns’. It’s a horrible place that smells of piss, filled with all sorts of nasty Hastings characters throughout the day selling drugs and having sex on the steps (no joke). It’s a rad spot though and well worth a visit!”
“More from Stevie Thompson. He is always rad to shoot. His knowledge of skateboarding is far beyond anything that any skateboarder could ever dream of too and that. All you need to do is give him a can of cider and stick him in Stockwell and you will see just how competent he is on his skateboard. He’s also a violent drunk. Haha!”
“Finally, Zak (Isaac Miller) is sick at skating and it’s a rare sight to see him out of the Level haha! When he skates, he waits for no one and just goes for it straight away. It’s kind of the situation where you either get it or you don’t, because he would have probably nailed it in the first 5 attempts. Switch ollie.”
As British skateboard history goes, The Level in Brighton has a few tales from the 33 years it has been in operation. From having a killer vert and mini to the shards of wood that are left to this very day, locals skaters of East Sussex have cherished every minute of this place but it’s time to say goodbye.
This Saturday 13th October is the very last session before the diggers come through there and rebuild the park with Freestyle Skateparks’ skills to erect the new concrete and take it into the future. The final design plans are still bouncing between council, Freestyle and the BHSA so expect work to be carried out in the new year if all goes to plan. Until then, if you want to see this spot off, this Saturday is your chance.
This afternoon’s meeting regarding the proposed plans for a new skate park at The Level in Brighton has been successful. Freestyle‘s plans passed the planning stage which is great news for the locals. It means the build now moves into a new phase with work scheduled on the project looking likely to proceed in February 2013.
Worried locals thinking that they would end up with a smaller park should be happier knowing that the new build will come in at around 1400sqm as opposed to the current space that houses around 1200sqm of skate-able land. The new park will now move North of the hedgerow of the existing site and the design you see here will change slightly before the build starts but not too much.
Congrats to the Brighton & Hove Skatepark Association and the locals for their massive efforts in getting this result and for persisting with the struggles they faced from all angles down there on the South coast. Brighton’s skate scene have deserved this news for a while. Here’s to the future.
The ongoing and very sad battle that Brighton’s skateboarders are involved in is reaching boiling point as the council there have stuck a cog in their plans of redevelopment by insisting they move into a different area within the park. This has received much opposition from locals as a green area that has been chosen for the new build will obviously be bulldozed and concreted over. The main problems are highlighted here in this recent article by local paper The Argus
View the recent information below and do your bit to secure the future of Brighton’s skate scene and make sure that the locals there get a skatepark at least the same size as the existing area. This city deserves a World class skatepark and nothing less.
The South Coast of England is spawning some great skateboarders right now but with its rich skate history etched into the books it’s hardly a surprise. The scene down in Brighton has never been tighter, the urethane is getting worn faster than ever and this vibrant coastal town keeps throwing up more talent than ever before.
One of Brighton’s lurkers who has always graced our Crossfire events is Isaac Miller. He sneaked a perfect switch flip into the unsponsored comp at last year’s Xmas Jam and took the dough until we released he repped for Drawing Boards, one of the UK’s most creative skater owned companies out there. This month we decided to visit Brighton to catch up with him and find out what makes him tick. Isaac Miller is this month’s Fresh Blood.
Thanks to AD, Ranny, Smay, Rich West and Ginge for their help to put this together plus the Level Army crew who are still fighting for as decent skate park down there. We’ve got your backs 100% here.
How is life treating you Isaac?
Life is good, as always! I’m just at college studying carpentry right now. I have been skating loads and filming for the forthcoming Drawing Boards video (Draw the Line) and Ed Hubert’s ‘Like’ video.
Before we get into a few questions, we see you have been at the Velodrome for a few tricks. Want to shine light on this little Olympic edit?
Well, we were on tour around the South Coast and Ed took us to the Velodrome cycle track so we just walked in! 10 tricks went down!
So, with Brighton being your home town, would you say you are you addicted to skating at the Level?
The Level is like a magnet so it’s hard to stay any distance too far from it! I have leaped a few years at the Level. I like skating there because it’s easier to skate without hassle and abuse from the general public. I started skating there when I was 12 and have been there and round a-bouts ever since. On a bad week I get there 5 out of 7 days. Haha!
What are your thoughts on the new plans for the park?
They keep promising a skate park with plans, meetings etc and have been for the past decade or so but nothing has happened as of yet. I’d love to see the new Level finished by the end of the year though like everyone else.
Who’s your favorite Level local of all time?
There are a lot of Levelers! Over the time I’ve spent down there everyone one and everything I have seen has been a real inspiration. So many tricks have been conquered at the Level is hard to underline any skater in particular.
Tell us 3 good things about Brighton.
La Vida (sandwich bar close to the Level), Skateboarding and that there’s loads of stuff to do, day and night.
Tell us 3 bad things about Brighton.
Level, Level and Level. Haha!
You were hooked up pretty young by Pasty and Pig City, is that correct?
Pig City was one of the first Brighton companies set up by Justin Ashby and a dude called Simon. It was really good going places with Pasty and getting to know as well as being inspired by the likes of Andy Scott, Josh Parr and Pete Dossett.
Who are your influences you in skating?
I like to taste the rainbow. Level Army! Sunshine, Transworld, Enjoi and Drawing Boards of course.
Do you watch skate videos?
Yeah, I’m into Transworld videos, Flip ‘Sorry’, Enjoi vids, Tilt Mode Army, 411 and stuff like that.
Switch gap ollie on a beach where Mods and Rockers once clashed. Photo: Rich West
What’s the best trick you’ve seen to date?
I saw Ben Raemers pull a boneless to noseblunt in the massive bowl at Penzance skate park in Cornwall once. That was pretty mental. Liam Teague eating concrete and Matt (Potter) Hill’s stepping up a ten flight first go. Haha! Ummm, Sam Beckett flying high on a vert ramp as well. Oh, and Black Thong (Jak Tonge) skating in odd shoes with a late night muffin!
What are your thoughts on Benihanas?
Don’t like ’em.
Then why do them?!
Cause they feel good at the time!
Aha, I’m sure Potter can relate to that feeling. So, you’ve been on a fair few trips with Drawing Boards including Barca, what was your favourite spot on that trip and spots in general?
The park in Clot, Besos, but no faves, just too many good spots. I like going on missions in Brighton to the schools and local spots on nice sunny days. Also the Beach front (West Pier) kickers and blocks.
A trip to the infamous Bloblands produces a large ollie fakie. Photo by Ranny
How’s your part coming along for the Drawing Boards DVD?
I’ve been filming for way over a year now, so should be about soon. There will be some surprises in there for sure so keep your clogs intact for this one! AD has been a real help. It’s so good not having to worry about the next board.
And the ‘Like’ video part?
The fact that it’s another Ed Hubert production means it will be rad. Ed’s a joker, Bill’s a piper, James is a juggler. It should be sick.
Who do you skate with down there?
Bare brehs, The Level Army, Drawing Boards and Brighton heads.
What do you do outside of skating?
Get paralytic, chill, run, walk, cycle, fish with my dad and go from A to B socialising. Mainly socialism and pushin’ woodism.
What direction do you see skateboarding going in?
Mate I don’t really know – left, right, anywhere and beyond.
Shouts out to Mum, Dad and bro for all the support and all my mates from the Level. Fin is on (cloudnine), George, Connor, Dyllan, Cob, Amir, Pasty, Stevie, The Level Army. AD and all the Drawing Boards team. Black Thong you know who you are. No equal.
Enjoy this backside flip. Photo: Ranny
AD will leave you with his personal lowdown on Isaac:
“Isaac consumes more cheese and fish than any man I have ever met. Perhaps this is the secret to his boundless energy. Isaac is pretty much on fire right now. Filming 2 video parts as well as steadily destroying parks and street all over the shop. Although he is still young, in the big scheme of things he’s put some serious time into his skating. So when you see him floating round the Level and ask yourself “how the hell did he do that?!” The answer is simple, he put his mind to it. However mad he is off a skateboard, the second he steps on it he becomes fully focused (even at midnight after a trip to the boozer). Stoked to have Isaac repping Drawing Boards. So much more to come…”
Watch Isaac’s Royal Warm Up at Meanwhile 2 filmed by Ginge.
The Brighton & Hove Skatepark Association made up from the riders and supporters of the Brighton & Hove skatepark community have published a new skatepark design for The Level to discuss this week.
This skatepark is one of the most legendary in the country and has played host to the development of some of the UK’s most influential skateboarders and industry tastemakers. Tell us what you think of these plans in the comments below.