Southbank is London’s iconic skatepark – read on to find out why it’s worth a visit to those who don’t ride, but come armed with a camera!
Nestled between the two iconic landmarks of London Bridge and Tower Bridge is London’s infamous skate spot: Southbank. Not quite street riding and definitely not a skate park, Southbank has a distinct charm, allowing anyone with a board or a BMX to showcase their skills. Ever-present is an eclectic mix of teens with girls in tow, guys in their forties, mixed together with nine year olds who fancy themselves as the next Tony Hawks. And Don’t forget the on-site amateur photographers [ello!] showcasing their own talents.
Central London is of course full of handrails and stair sets, but it’s not always so easy to pull off an 180-heelflip when there’s about 3 million hardcore shoppers trying to be tripped up and the pavements are slick with rain. London has been pretty damp lately, and thankfully, the Southbank skate spot remains dry under its cover so kids [and grown-ups] can still ride whatever the weather.
Tourists abound in Southbank, and congregate around the skating area taking pictures and attempting conversation. Having an audience isn’t always helpful for maintaining your form, but the attention is clearly welcome, on occasion. Here is where the dreamy Diana Mini really helps – you can snap away completely unnoticed!
Now I’m no expert, but there aren’t many hand rails, and space is limited when it’s busy, but the location itself is worth a visit. The Thames river and National Theatre make an imposing backdrop, and with regular festivals and pop-ups, the area doesn’t scrimp on culture and artistic influences either. So when you get tired of pounding the concrete, anyone can just sit and enjoy the view.
Plus here it’s not just tags, and dicks drawn by dicks that adorn the walls – it’s proper street art. Maybe the fight against boredom is to blame, or because a trick always looks more polished with an awesome backdrop, but graffiti and skating are intrinsically linked. Just compare locations like Marseilles skate park to any crappy half-pipe in towns across the UK, to see that when the sweaty business of skating takes it toll and boredom begins to set in, it’s time to bring the spray can out.
Make sure that if you are more of a snapper than a skater, take the time to explore the bowels of the Southbank – you will not be disappointed when you pick up your prints. The shocking hues spread over colourful concrete look great on film, and distorted double exposures create tricks that are not humanly possible, even by the Geoff Rowleys of this world.
London is a winding warren of street spots and sets just waiting to be discovered. Just look at Liverpool street station or make a trip to Stockwell http://www.youtube.com/share_popup?v=3IPucHyerE4, but if you’ve only got time for one London skate spot, make sure it’s Southbank.
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