Locality: Brighton by Rianne Evans

Originally from Bournemouth, Polar Skate Co representative Rianne Evans relocated the best part of 100 miles up the coast to Brighton in 2014, in order to study Earth and Ocean Science at university. Though Rianne has spent extended periods of time since her graduation traveling around Europe, she has always found herself drawn back to Brighton, or more accurately, to the familiar and welcoming surroundings of The Level.

As luck would have it, at this very moment, Rianne is preparing to up sticks once again, and start a new chapter in Bristol. But before she sets about her northwest journey, she’s kindly taken some time to give you a guided tour of her adopted Brighton base.

This week’s Locality is steeped in Brighton skate history and knowledge, so be sure to make time to fully explore the photos, footage and links embedded within…

Portrait - Chris Johnson.

Best skate spot - back in the day:

In the early 2000s there used to be some ramps down on the seafront by West Pier. I’m pretty clueless as it’s before my time, but I’m pretty sure they had a vert ramp down there at one point. It looked pretty sick to be fair, especially for the era.

We’ve had a few DIYs pop up in Brighton, but they’ve never lasted very long. About five years ago there was a DIY down in the Marina. It was really small and crusty, and all the lines ran into one another, but it was nice to have something more unique to skate in the city. There was also a DIY quarter named ‘Bobside’ at the bottom of a road I used to live on, it was long gone by the time I moved in though. It only lasted three weeks but it made for a banging photo.

Ryan Price at the Marina DIY. Filmed by Sirus F Gahan.

Best skate spot - present day: A new ledge spot popped up this year on the main road leading from the beach to The Level skatepark on Gloucester Place, which - as you can imagine - is the perfect location. There are multiple ledges of different sizes the whole way down the road, making it line central. They did end up getting skate stopped after months of everyone already skating them, typically. Thankfully, the skate-stoppers have been removed from the larger two ledges now…so it’s game on! There are also a few good spots on the seafront - manny pads, ledges, wallrides - so it’s nice that there’s a route of spots from the skatepark down the beach without having to travel out of your way. There’s also a new DIY that got built during the lockdown, but I don’t think it will last long as there’s already planning permission on the area for a car park or something.

Rianne takes to Brighton's short lived new ledge spot - filmed by Josh Manderson.

Best shop:

THE LEVEL SKATEBOARDS! The Level shop is opposite the skatepark, so if you snap your deck, pop a bearing, or need a skate tool, it’s literally only a matter of running across the road and you’re sorted. It also makes a nice meeting point and an easy escape from the rain. Si and Faye that run the shop are absolute legends that go above and beyond to help the local skate community. They’re happy to have anyone chilling in the shop, and I mean sometimes they have their hands full with us guys (laughs) but they’re always calm about it. Not all skate shops are like that. The only other shop is Route One; that's tucked away in the centre of town.

Best local video/video part: Al Hodgson who runs Owl Skateboards and Orwellian World Landscape has brought out two banging Brighton videos in the last year or so. Double Yellow Lines and Pavillion. The both have real good heads and sick skating; definitely worth a watch for anyone looking to kill some time during this lockdown. Some of the older scene edits coming out of Brighton are super rad too. Check out Sirus Gahan’s edit Death Aesthetic (2016 - below), and the Level Skateboards Shop Video by Ed Hubert (2015) is really well made and reminds me a lot of when I first moved to Brighton, so I love it.

Best skate photo shot in Brighton:

A very recent one of Dan Fisher, with a beast switch ollie over the handrail on the seafront that Griff snapped for Free Skate Mag. It’s such a gnarly spot, I can’t imagine anyone else from Brighton would even contemplate going over it switch. Dan has just been absolutely killing it on the board recently; it’s so good to see. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on. A slightly older photo but definitely needs a mention is Liam Teague’s frontside boardslide down the Churchill Square handrail. The rail is an absolute beast; other than Liam's 5050, I’m pretty sure nothing else has gone down on it since.

Liam Teague frontside boardsliding his way into the Brighton history books. Photo: Rich West.

Best local skatepark: I find whenever you talk about Brighton Skateboarding the word ‘Level’ is thrown about an insane amount. The Level is the best skatepark in Brighton and is just such a hub for everyone. There are a few other smaller concrete parks dotted around the city, but they’re more on the outskirts and aren’t anything amazing. The Level, at the end of the day, is a pretty big, well built, concrete park with something for everyone, and being bang in the centre of the city, it’s naturally going to attract the local scene. It’s one of those parks you can just turn up at without messaging anyone and know there’s always going to be a homie to skate with. It does get pretty busy down there though, more with skateboarders than scooters or BMXers, which is a nice change from a lot of UK parks.

Rianne drops by The Level for a session during Brighton Pride 2019.

Best pub:

I mean I can’t really say this is the best pub, it’s far from it in fact, but the Caroline of Brunswick has to be the place I’ve spent the most time. It’s next to The Level skate shop, opposite the skatepark, and it has a pool table…need I say more? Brighton has so many lovely, quaint little pubs, and some bigger, rowdier ones too. I’ve spent a lot of time at the King and Queen, Mash Tun, Dead Wax, and The White Rabbit; they’re probably the go to’s, but a lot of time it’s just street beers.

Best eatery:

This one is hard for me because I love food, and a lot of restaurants and cafes come and go in Brighton so quickly. There are a few places in the Open Market - once again, next to the skatepark - that are amazing. Kouzina is a Greek place that do a huge meze for £6, and plates for the same price. Shmorl’s a falafel and humous bar has been a long time fave; they do these salad and falafel boxes that are the epitome of health, and make you feel like a sick human being (laughs). If you want some pure greasy goodness though, then Grubbs Burgers is a must.

Best local band:

One thing I regret not doing in Brighton is watching more local bands. I’m not really clued up on them at all, so I’m going to go for a homie from The Level’s band called Complete Snake. They played at Dean Lane Fun Day last year.

Rianne swaps the scenic surrounds of Brighton for the drab carparks of Coventry, seeing fit liven the place up with a flawless beanplant. Photo: Chris Johnson.

Best local slang phrase:

I actually posted this question in the ‘Is the Level Dry’ page, as I couldn’t think of one particularly. Everyone agreed it would be “do you have any baccy?” or “can I steal a roll up?” I think they sum up The Level pretty well, to be honest. Best local celebrity:

I think Fat Boy Slim and Adele both have houses down on the ‘Millionaire Row’, and there are some YouTubers that live in Brighton, but I’ve never really been into celebrities. So I’d like to give the position to Stevie G, a colourful, crazy character that pops to The Level on his rollerblades, sometimes with a board, and is totally high on life. I’m sure he’s high on something else too, but he’s never any harm, only a laugh. You get plenty of characters like that rolling through The Level; it makes for a very interesting atmosphere. One day is never the same as the last.

Best local point of interest/tourist must see:

I mean you can’t go to Brighton and not visit the beach. The old burnt down West Pier is my favourite spot by the sea; it’s totally iconic Brighton. My mum was actually petitioning to regenerate the West Pier when she was at uni there, right before it got burnt down, which was a bit of a wasted effort (laughs). Of course there’s the Brighton Pavilion too; everyone says it looks like the Taj Mahal. It’s surrounded by a beautiful garden, so it’s a good chilling spot as well.

Best thing about living in Brighton:

Man, that’s such a tough question. I feel like trying to explain the Brighton skate scene to someone that’s not from there is like trying to explain the skateboarding community to a non-skater. Brighton is a really condensed city and the fact that The Level is in the centre of it all creates such a crazy atmosphere. There are so many eccentric people in Brighton that there’s always something that will take your attention. It’s also nice knowing you can nip to the shop in your pyjamas and not a single person will bat and eye lid at you; they’ve all seen far crazier get-ups (laughs). The thing I’ve always been most proud of Brighton for is it’s political views. Being the only area in the UK that is represented by the Green Party, the way the city is ran - as well as the like-minded people that live there - make it a very unique place. It’s nice to walk along a road and to see ‘Save the NHS’, ‘Green Party’ or ‘Labour’ in every window.

Best skaters coming out of Brighton:

Dan Fisher is living in London now, but he’s still going on this list because it’s The Level that brought him up (laughs), and like I said earlier…he’s just smashing it.

Dougie George. However, he’s another one that’s snuck off the to the big city. Dan Reynolds is an absolute beast, totally underrated in skating. More people should know his name because the guy’s unreal!

Harrison Woolgar - tech skating, mad steez, mullet haircut…can’t go wrong there.

A few other notable mentions include: Henry Bailey of Journal Skate Mag, Cal Dawson, and - of course - the silent shredder, JP Arnold.

A decked nightime rock n' roll to wrap things up! Photo: Chris Johnson.

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