The UK freestyle scene has come a long way in a short space of time, with jams, demos and events now commonplace throughout the year. The annual meeting at London’s famous South Bank has now become one of these annual gatherings, attracting freestylers from across the UK for a catch up and a good old fashioned session.
The weather was beautiful on Friday as I embarked on my journey from Manchester to Tunbridge Wells, where I would be joining my host for the weekend, Tony Gale, and Reece Archibald, a fellow Northerner; albeit from considerably further North. It was late when I finally arrived, though thankfully there was pizza and typically nerdy freestyle chat awaiting me, as we continued to talk into the early hours of the morning.
Sadly, the following morning, the weather had taken a turn for the worse with rain pouring down. Downing our morning brews and wrapping up our boards we headed to the train station to catch an early train in London. It wasn’t long before we arrived in the capital, where we were greeted by Nathan Hill at an unusually quiet South Bank.
As the morning went on, freestylers continued to arrive, with Alex Thompson, James ‘Fairbro’ Fairbrother, Simon Mrozinski, Alexander Rademaker, Karl Zumar, Michael Erskine and Mac arriving in the early afternoon. This jam was incredible in many ways, one of which being that this was the first time that 10 UK freestylers had gathered in any one place since 2011, which was, in many ways, the rebirth of the UK scene.
For the majority of the day, the South Bank was dominated by the freestylers, with no other skaters choosing to visit. After skating on the floor, it became apparent why. The surface had congealed an unusual amount of what could only be described as ‘slime’, which made the floor difficult to walk across let alone skate on.
We skated for as long as we possibly could until the floor became impossible to use before calling it a day. Somehow, Reece Archibald was still managing making truck-to-truck combos right up until the moment we left; there must be magic in those M14 boards!
By this point in the day, there was only seven of the freestylers left, so we decided to head out and grab a bite to eat. Simon took the opportunity to record some freestyle discussion for use in the Freestyle Podcast, however there was a firework display in full swing, so there’s a high probability that absolutely none of it will be audible!
The evening drew in, so we headed to the station and made our way over to a brilliant spot as recommended by Tony. The Stratford Centre, a shopping centre in London, is a public right of way, meaning that the centre must remain open throughout the night despite the shops being closed. As such, it’s become an ideal spot for creative individuals, be they skaters, inliners, breakdancers or even unicyclists, to hone their craft in a warm and dry environment, creating a great atmosphere.
I was hesitant about the surface at first, however I can say that, without doubt, this was one of the best surfaces I have ever skated on. Smooth and grippy, perfect for fast rolling tricks and technical truck transfers. We skated late into the night, finally heading off at about 11pm on the last train.
The freestyle sessions are always great fun and it’s a fantastic opportunity to discuss freestyle, compare equipment and share tricks. Stay posted to LateTricks for the latest dates for upcoming jams and come join us if you can!