Christian Hart is a lynchpin of the Cardiff skate scene. Not only is he the proprietor of the mighty Spit and & Sawdust skatepark and restaurant, over his years residing in the city, Christian has produced full length videos, a whole manner of brilliant edits, put on events, and held down the title of perpetual hypeman (or ‘hypedragon’, if you will), all of which has meant that he has been witness to no shortage of legendary 'Diff skateboarding moments.
For our latest Locality feature, we decided to pick Christian's well informed brain to get some insight into life in the Welsh capital. So, without further ado, darllenwch ymlaen i ddarganfod mwy...
Portrait: Mike Ridout.
Best Cardiff spot from back in the day?
Hmm…there are a few that spring to mind. I guess the main one - which is long gone now - would be the banks outside of the old theatre in the city centre; you'd have to go back to the late 80s to session those. They were a stomping ground for an early (Matt) Pritchard, Pete and Chris Fowler, and Rob Parsonson. They had a great bank angle, little lip on top, and gap combos for days. One of them council city centre builds that leave you wondering, “what were they thinking?” The banks were replaced by a Territorial Amy sign-up centre in the 90s.
Old Theatre banks, firmly 'back in the day'. Photos: Matthew Dyer.
Best present day Cardiff spot?
This one's slightly easier. Bute Square - or actual name Callaghan Square - ticks the box for sure. Bute Square is a large bricked/paving slabbed expanse, it's bust free, with many ledges of assorted heights, couple of stairs, water features, and it's slap bang in (well, 'on the edge of') Cardiff city centre. It's only really frequented by folk going about their everyday dealing/sleeping/drinking/fighting, office workers on lunch/eating/phoning/smoking, and the skateboarding community sliding/complaining/grinding/also drinking…so quite the mix. It’s also nicknamed 'the centre of the universe'.
Best local video?
That’s a tough call. There's been tonnes of high quality content oozing from the 'Diff. There's one that changed the game and slapped South Wales on the plank map, and that was the Who? video, Scott Magill's masterpiece from 2008. Mind melting talent from Chris Jones, Al Williams, Chris Wilson, Caradog Emanuel, Jess Young, Nick Batt, Rhys Meek, Dai Williams, Dylan Hughes, Nicky Howells, all of whom were from the Swansea/Bridgend/Coychurch area of South Wales! Must be something in the water…or the Monster.
Best local video part?
Well, local...ish. Dylan Hughes' Today Now is incredible! Filmed mainly in South Wales and Landan town, with Nick 'Bastard' Richards behind the lens, this was an instant classic! Switch heel back tail Southbank stairs ledge MID SECTION is a little indication of how mind-melting The Huge is on a plank.
Best Cardiff trick committed to film?
Steve King's backside 360 kickflip out of the Plaza! Chris Jones’ switch flip into the Ikea bank is terrifying to even imagine! See that one in the Who? video.
Best Cardiff trick that you’ve personally documented?
Does 'pointing the camera at and pushing record' count? From NOW! That's What I Call Skateboarding, Gibbsy (Chris Gibbs) and Tommy’s booming line on a very busy Queen Street, through 50 'hard dancers' shuffling away! I'd arranged it all and slipped out of work to film it, slinked back in undetected…sorted! Checked it back only to find a ‘cleaning’ message flashing at me. The camera hadn't recorded a thing! Buzzing. There's loads – Dylan’s switch 360 flip noseslide to fakie, Tommy’s frontside noseblunt round to switch back tail, Steve King’s front noseslide biggerspin out to name a few.
PJ just pushing?
Best trick done by a visiting pro?
Easy. Chris Haslam, tail whip on a scooter in a wet Spit & Sawdust car park...oh I guess there's Peter Ramondetta’s crook on the flat section of Matt Davies' Sidewalk cover handrail too, but that lacks the microscooter element for sure.
Best skate photo shot in Cardiff?
Josh Perrett, back 180 fakie nosegrind, out to fakie in the middle of the waist high ledge at the Welsh Office. Shot by the big man Leo Sharp. It was so good that Sidewalk made it a poster.
Josh Perret, backside 180 fakie nosegrind at the Welsh Offices, mid-2000s. Photo: Leo Sharp.
Favourite trick landed at Spit & Sawdust?
Oosh! You're getting a list here! Maggot’s board flying off the vert and landing in the pond, Gibbsy backside nollie flip on the steep mammoth known as the 'Widowmaker', landing in nosewheelie down it to flat! Dylan Hughes switch Pupeki on the back wall to curb, Caradog's switch back lip the inside length of the long block, (Sam) Beckett's manoeuvres in general on the vertical. Matt Davies…everything.
Best local skater, back in the day?
I can't pick from these boyos, so you've three! There's the one and only Matthew Pritchard; he was laying the foundations way back in the 90s, there are countless video parts to mention that existed way before the MTV chaos; get on the Google and do some research. Josh Perret and Christopher Gibbons. This pair were so good, they absolutely slayed it, and are now completely over it (laughs). Gibbsy can out-skate anyone, 10 cans deep; he’s an absolute weapon! He’s got manuals off the chart and is an all round Fosters fuelled powerhouse. Josh had that unique style, looked so good on a board, and had a trick selection over a decade ahead of it's time, the switch heelflip frontside tailslide in particular. The undisputed 'King of Bute' and as if that weren't enough - to quote Leo Sharp - "Perret: The Welsh Mariano". Says it all, really!
Best local skater, present day?
Easy. Dylan 'The Huge' Hughes. Next: Lloyd Houston and PJ 'aka' P-Jazzle 'aka' Paul.
Is it arrogant to say Spit & Sawdust? Spit & Sawdust, and Bacareto. Shameless advertising alert: Bacaerto is coming mid-August 2021. A Venetian inspired cafe bar in the city centre, from us over at Spit & Sawdust, with Cardiff Skateboard Club above us on the first floor. There’ll be great food, cicchetti, cracking coffee, wines and beers…it’s the perfect pre or post skate hangout. Trix (Mike Ridout) can deliver* your skate product to your table. Other than that, Hardlines is the best coffee and lunch combo, Fresh has the banging baguettes, Ffwrnes and Dusty’s for great stone baked pizza, Herbivore and The Greenery for that vitamin enriched vegan kick, Chronic Fried Chicken, Franks and Pooja for the naughtiness.
Erm…is it arrogant to say Spit & Sawdust? Spit & Sawdust! The rest vary on your mood, or whether you'd like to keep your front teeth or not. The Borough if everywhere else is shut! I'm partial to The Queen’s Vault, it’s got good pool and a mosher jukebox. City Arms, Bluebell and The Albany for OG boozers, there's The Deep, Bubs, Bottle Shop…and coming soon, Bacareto (laughs). <Insert Bacareto blurb from above>
Best local business?
Maximum Respect LTD…Cardiff Skateboard Club head honcho/skate rat/overlord/all round humble human Jim O has given hugely to the skate scene over the years, he’s fully supported various independent businesses, filmers, and makes great stuff happen in the capital, now more than ever! And he's got a vicious sweeper. I tip me hat to you, mucker; we all owe you tonnes.
Favourite local slang phrase?
"I'll be there now in a minute" - I'll be there in two hours.
"Tidy, Butt" - very good, mate.
"Tamping" - expressing dissatisfaction at a situation.
Best local celebrity?
Pritchard and Dainton, the dynamic duo! Pritch should be dead 10 times over from the years of partying feats alone. Him being here still is testament to what a strong body and an even stronger mind can do. Dainton is still out there filming and skating, sporting a pair of the worst earlobes I think I've ever seen (laughs). Legends! Go Compare bloke Wyn 'not my actual moustache' Evans, he lives down the road from Jim O. Ninja has to be in there. Visit Cardiff and follow the gentle beat of the drum. Well, bin…that'll be him.
Best Cardiff affiliated band?
Super Furry Animals, Charlotte Church, Catatonia, Threatmantics, former Boo Radley Martin Carr brings his lad down to Spit & Sawdust too - thought I'd dump that in there - Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, to name a few.
Best thing about living in Cardiff?
I'm also going to mimic Bish here and say the size and the community within the city. It's also very green, with a short journey to beautiful coast and countryside. The skate scene is very strong, there’s a great selection of spots, backed by a warm welcome and an even warmer can of beer at Bute Square. Cardiff is fully geared as a sporting event city, match days are electric, and if you like your rugby, the place is a must visit! If you're English though, you will be told to "stick your chariot up your arse".