The Red Bulletin September 2020 (UK)

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UK EDITION

SEPTEMBER 2020, £3.50

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CARNIVAL

STATE OF

MIND

How Notting Hill

Carnival became

much more than

a street party


MANY PATHS. ONE TRAIL.

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Editor’s letter

WORKS IN

PROGRESS

CONTRIBUTORS

THIS ISSUE

How to navigate testing times and, at the same

time, find positive outcomes is a challenge we’re

all facing right now to some extent. And it’s one

that many of the stars of this month’s issue of

The Red Bulletin are managing to rise to.

News that the physical celebration of London’s

Notting Hill Carnival (page 30), the biggest event

of its kind in Europe, was to be cancelled this

year for the first time left many crestfallen. But,

as our cover feature shows, Carnival is a lot more

than a street party: it’s a state of mind that those

at its heart carry into everyday life. Not only

have the organisers created something uplifting

with their digital offering for 2020, it’s estimated

that more people than ever will attend this year,

sampling Carnival culture from their homes.

Photographer Pablo Allison (page 42) had a lifechanging

experience in the unexpected setting

of a Mexican freight train. The British artist

says that, despite being imprisoned and held

at gunpoint, riding on top of these fast-moving

trains to document the journeys of thousands

of migrants is making him a better person.

Then there’s the group of the women pushing

back against economic and social restrictions in

Athens as they rediscover the city together on

roller skates (page 48), offering each other support,

solidarity and, most important of all, fun.

And Canadian cave-diver Jill Heinerth

(page 56) knowingly enters difficult waters on

her deep dives into barely accessible caves. But,

she says, the thrill of discovering the unknown

makes the risks well worthwhile.

We hope you enjoy the issue.

CHIIZII

“My relationship with Notting

Hill Carnival has always been

one of joy, freedom and

celebration,” says the

London-born visual artist

and designer, who illustrated

our cover and feature on

Carnival. “Incorporating

imagery and producing

illustrations that are true

to its Caribbean origin and

Black British progression

was not debatable.” Page 30

ALEX KING

The British journalist and

documentary filmmaker

moved to Athens in 2017.

There he met female rollerskate

crew Chicks in Bowls,

who became the subject of

a short film, and a feature in

this month’s issue. “I wanted

to show Athens in a way

outsiders haven’t seen it

before,” says King. “The

result is thanks to the girls.

They really pushed hard and

gave everything!” Page 48

CHIIZII (COVER ARTWORK) SEYE ISIKALU, ALAMY (COVER)

04 THE RED BULLETIN


CONTENTS

September 2020

6 Canyon fire: good times in the

birthplace of freestyle MTB

8 Subway surfer: skateboarding the

escalators of Frankfurt’s U-Bahn

10 Rust and play: the WWII wreck

that’s a magnet for Cuban surfers

12 Slack jaws: how one man and his

highwire stunned an Italian village

15 Comedy gold: musician and

stand-up comic Reggie Watts

on what makes him laugh

17 Making music: the machine that

lets you cut and play your own

vinyl records at home

18 The Z-Triton: is it a tricycle, or

a boat? Answer: both – and you

can have a kip in it, too

20 Chain reaction: love it or hate it,

there’s no ignoring the divisive

ebike named the Babymaker

MARK LEAVER

22 Jehnny Beth

Talking fears and fantasies with

the multitalented Savages star

24 Gaika

The electronic musician who’s

changing the world for the better

26 Jasmin Paris

Snow, exhaustion, pregnancy

– nothing stops this ultrarunner

30 Notting Hill Carnival

Six decades on, it remains

a celebration like no other

42 Pablo Allison

Highlighting the plight of Mexican

migrants in film and graffiti paint

48 CIB Athens

We tear up tarmac with the

all-woman roller-skate crew

56 Jill Heinerth

A deep dive into the Canadian

explorer’s underwater world

68 Fabio Wibmer

From motocross prodigy to

YouTube bike-trick sensation

79 Four months, 10 countries,

more than 11,000km, in

temperatures of 35°C upwards:

the epic continent-crossing

bike adventure known as the

Tour d’Afrique is a punishing

but unmissable experience

83 Graphic statement: a stack of

skateboards inspired by street art

84 Flash point: how strobe therapy

is supercharging the training

and performance of athletes

85 Worth the weight: are you ready

for the smart kettlebell?

86 Rock the block: sound-system

tech for the ultimate house party

48

Greece-ing the wheels: meet the women roller skaters who

are reclaiming the streets and skateparks of Athens

88 Drive time: watches that belong

behind the wheel

89 Glare free: this summer’s most

desirable sunglasses

90 Taking control: all you need

for gaming on the go

91 Game of life: lessons in stoicism

from The Last of Us, Part II

94 Essential dates for your calendar

98 Leaps and bounds: parkour

shenanigans in Panama

THE RED BULLETIN 05


STEPHEN SHANNON/RED BULL ILLUME

FARWELL CANYON,

BC, CANADA

Canny

valley

Shooting in Farwell Canyon – a location

he describes as “the birthplace of freeride

mountain biking” – has been a longtime

ambition for British Columbia native Steve

Shannon. Following several failed attempts,

the photographer finally realised his wish

in April last year, accompanied by local

shredder and bike mechanic Cory ‘Coco’

Brunelle. “Hiking out to the top of the line

pre-dawn, we were greeted by a beautiful

sunrise over the Chilcotin River,” he says.

“Having grown up nearby, Coco is very

comfortable riding down the chutes of

Farwell, letting out a little style as he

hurtles to the bottom.”

steveshannonphoto.com

07


FRANKFURT,

GERMANY

One step

beyond

This stunning image, shot prelockdown

by Robert Garo on

Frankfurt’s U-Bahn system, required

patience from both the Croatiaborn

photographer and his subject,

local skater Milan Hruska. “My friend

Milan works just around the corner

[from the station],” says Garo, who is

also based in the German city, “so we

made arrangements to do the shoot.

But we’d underestimated how much

traffic there is during the normal

evening rush hour. In the end, we had

to wait a few hours, until we were

almost alone, to get the final picture.”

robertgaro.net


ROBERT GARO/RED BULL ILLUME

09


WILL SAUNDERS/RED BULL ILLUME

BARACOA, CUBA

Wreck

star

Utah-based photographer Will

Saunders had been documenting a

crew of surfers and skaters in Cuba

for a fortnight when they took him

to one of their favourite spots.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Saunders says

of the rusted wreck. “This place felt

like a spot out of Tony Hawk’s Pro

Skater. We spent the entire morning

making images of this unique wave

and surfing until the swell was gone.

The game of this wave is to try to

surf under the bow of the boat while

dragging your hand along its hull

– without getting tetanus. Yojany

[Pérez, the surfer pictured] made

it look too easy.”

willsaundersphoto.com

11


MATTEO PAVANA/RED BULL ILLUME


CASTELMEZZANO,

ITALY

Crossed

lines

Regarded to be one of the

most beautiful villages in Italy,

Castelmezzano in the southern

province of Potenza is a magnet

for tourists. But here was a sight

that neither visitors nor locals

had expected to see: slackliner

Benjamin Kofler walking high above

the rooftops. “Even with the general

noise, I could hear the comments of

the crowd gathered in the Piazza

Emilio Caizzo,” reports Italian

photographer Matteo Pavana, who

took this shot. “One lady at the edge

of the square cried, ‘Oh my God,

I can’t watch those crazy freaks!’”

theverticaleye.com

13


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REGGIE WATTS

Playing

for

laughs

The versatile US musician

and comic gives his pick

of comedy’s innovators,

past and present

He may be best known as James

Corden’s bandleader on The Late

Late Show, but US musician and

comedian Reggie Watts is an allround

entertainer. The 48-year-old

made his name performing

experimental stand-up – check out

his 2016 surrealist Netflix special

Spatial – before diversifying into

everything from voice work for

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

to launching his own app,

WattsApp, where fans can watch

exclusive content and buy his

unwanted tech gear. On a musical

note, in February this year Watts

and dance producer John Tejada

released a second album of soulful

electronica as Wajatta. Here, Watts

(pictured on the right, with Tejada)

salutes the comedians who broke

new ground and, crucially,

continue to make him laugh…

reggiewatts.com

George Carlin

Class Clown (1972)

Eddie Murphy

Raw (1987)

Whitmer Thomas

The Golden One (2020)

Eddie Murphy

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

THE1POINT8 PIERS MARTIN

“Carlin was a philosopher

comedian. His monologue

Seven Words You Can Never

Say on Television showed me

there are other ways to think

about things. A word is a word,

but how is it said and what’s

the context, what’s its origin?

He gave me deeper realisation.

His message is deep in my

operating system.”

“Eddie Murphy invented the

rock-star comedian. When he

came onstage in the all-leather

outfit, to people screaming like

[he was] The Beatles, that was

incredible. I heard the cassette

of Raw before I saw the video –

I was 15, on an orchestra trip in

Montana. I loved it because he

was speaking freely and using

a lot of profanity.”

“I tend to avoid books and

comedy specials, because I’m

an improviser and I don’t want

to accidentally use an idea.

But I did catch this HBO special

by Whitmer Thomas. He talks

about mental health issues

and is a very earnest open

book, so it’s comedy but also

drenched in melancholia. He’s

raw and honest, and I like that.”

“That whole [early-’80s] period

for Murphy – Trading Places,

Coming to America, 48 Hours

– was insane, but Beverly

Hills Cop is a perfect movie.

I remember watching the

opening action sequence and

laughing and losing my mind.

He was so cool in his dope

sunglasses and those tight

’80s jeans that fit perfectly.”

THE RED BULLETIN 15


WIIINGS FOR

YOUR SUMMER.

WITH THE TASTE OF WATERMELON.

VITALIZES BODY AND MIND.


Go, cut

creator, go:

the mini

dubplate is

finally an

achievable

dream

GAKKEN, PENTAGRAM LOU BOYD

When Yuri Suzuki was a highschool

student in ’90s Tokyo,

he was obsessed with two

things: punk music and vinyl.

“Making a machine to create

my own records was always a

dream for me,” the 40-year-old

Japanese sound artist says.

“As a student, I tried to mend

old cutting machines from junk

sales, but they didn’t work.”

Three decades on, he has

realised his dream, inventing

a device that can cut and play

homemade records.

Suzuki’s Instant Record

Cutting Machine – created

in collaboration with Gakken,

a maker of educational toys

– features two arms: one for

scoring grooves into the vinyl,

the other for playback. “You use

your phone’s headphone jack

to connect via USB,” he says.

“It’s quite a primitive process:

the audio becomes information

in the form of vibrations, and

the stylus engraves this into the

vinyl. This project isn’t about

making super hi-fi equipment;

it sounds DIY and lo-fi.”

Some people are also using it

to create new music. “There’s

a DJ who records breaks with

the machine during live sets,”

says Suzuki. “He quickly cuts

them onto a 5in [13cm] record,

which he then uses in his set,

so the record maker is almost

a musical instrument.” Others

have used different surfaces:

“One thing I wasn’t expecting

was people cutting tracks onto

CDs. I’m sure all families have a

bunch of old CDs they don’t use

any more – now they can turn

them into unique 5in records.”

The death of vinyl has long

been touted, but with each year

interest seems to grow. “As a

teenager, I was always making

mixtapes for my friends,” says

Suzuki. “It’s that feeling that

makes people still love vinyl.

Sending an online song doesn’t

feel valuable, but a physical

record you need to place the

needle on – especially one

you’ve made yourself – that

still feels quite special.”

yurisuzuki.com/design-studio/

easyrecordmaker

RECORD-CUTTING MACHINE

Vinyl fantasy

Digital streaming killed the homemade

mixtape. But one audio buff has revived the

personal touch with his latest invention

Stylus icon: Suzuki and his IRCM (as we like to call it)

THE RED BULLETIN 17


The Z-Triton:

imagine the

Transformers

movies

remade on a

tight budget

Z-TRITON

Floating an idea

Applying the tiny-home concept to adventure travel, this amphibious

tricycle/caravan could be the answer to self-distancing holidays

A few years ago, when Latvian

urban designer Aigars Lauzis

conceived the Z-Triton – a mix

of boat, electric tricycle and

adventure van – the idea of

travelling in a self-contained

mini-cabin would have

appeared odd to most people.

But fast-forward to 2020, and

as the global pandemic stalls

the world’s travel plans, Lauzis’

invention seems prescient.

The concept came to Lauzis

during a four-year, 30,000km

cycling trip from London to

Tokyo as he pondered how to

recreate his journey as a family

experience. “I came up with

the idea for an amphibious tiny

home that is completely solarpowered

and electric,” he says.

“You can cycle, sail and be fully

immersed in nature, with a little

camper to sleep in.”

Cabin

fever: all

the thrills

of cycling

around the

world and

sleeping

under the

stars, but

without the

tent pegs

It may look like an big toy boat,

but the Z-Triton squeezes in a

lot of technology. The trike can

navigate terrain at 40kph, and

it turns into a motorboat for

freshwater sailing. The cabin

has its own lights, heating, and

cooking facilities. Out front,

there’s room for one passenger

while the other cycles, with an

extra seat available for pets.

This is far from Lauzis’ first

‘big idea’; previous projects

include a trailer that becomes a

narrow boat, and the Z-Bioloo –

an outdoor toilet that composts

human waste to feed a lavender

bed on its roof, then funnels

the fragrant floral air back in

as a natural air freshener.

Lauzis hopes the Z-Triton will

inspire a new trend in humanpowered

adventure travel.

“While it is electrically assisted,

you burn your own battery,” he

says, “I want to be fit and power

my adventures with my own

energy – to create something

fun and a bit crazy that could

tackle world problems.”

zeltini.com

AIGARS LAUZIS, GATIS PRIEDNIEKS-MELNACIS LOU BOYD

18 THE RED BULLETIN


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Go green:

there are

two models

– the PRO

(pictured)

has higher

specs

BABYMAKER

The Marmite bike

Some cyclists adore it, others absolutely despise it. Why is this

crowdfunded ebike attracting so much love and hate online?

American. “They inspired us to

make something that was fast

but would also make people

go, ‘Whoa, what is that? I want

it.’” And fast it is. With a 250w

motor and a top speed of 40kph,

the Babymaker is technically

classified as a moped in the UK

and Europe, so it requires a

driving licence, road tax and

insurance for road-legal riding.

Meanwhile, the bike

industry dismissed Rast and

Leaviss’ design, mocking

the lack of a spec sheet or

geometry chart. Other parts of

the internet took offence at its

name, but the duo say this was

merely a means of grabbing

maximum attention. It got just

that, in the form of increased

financial backing. “Any industry

is going to be resistant to

change,” says Rast, “especially

when there’s money involved

and it gets redistributed from

the guys selling $10,000 road

bikes to Pete and Rob and their

crazy $1,000 ebike.”

With fundraising closed,

the bikes will start shipping in

December. Rast is confident

people will be as in love with

the bike as he is. “The problem

with the cycling industry is,

it’s so niche that it’s no longer

approachable for the average

person,” he says. “You’re not

going to put the Babymaker

in the Tour de France. We’re

just here to have some fun.”

flx.bike

Rarely has a cycling product

divided opinion as sharply as

the Babymaker, from San

Diego-based startup FLX Bike.

The brightly coloured ebike

concept raised more than

£10 million on IndieGoGo –

the largest amount on the

crowdfunding platform this

year so far – but before the

first prototypes had even

shipped, it had received a lot of

negative feedback from inside

and outside the bike industry.

The Babymaker is the

brainchild of Rob Rast and

Peter Leaviss, who met by

chance while sofa-surfing in

China. “I was a college dropout

who bought a one-way ticket in

2009 to learn about life,” says

Rast. “I got a message from

this British guy who wanted to

rent my room out. Peter shows

up at 2am and we hit it off.”

The pair bonded over their

joint love of “bikes, speed and

adventure”, resulting in the

concept for a new type of ebike

that harnesses the power of an

engine in something as sleek as

a city single-speed. “We were

seeing all these little electric

scooters around,” says the

Baby fathers: Rob Rast (left) and Peter Leaviss of FLX Bike

STEALINGLIGHT PRODUCTIONS LOU BOYD

20 THE RED BULLETIN


Jehnny Beth

Renaissance

woman

The multitalented Savages singer says she

likes doing the wrong thing. Judging by her

latest work, that impulse is steering her right

Words MARCEL ANDERS

Photography XAVIER ARIAS

Jehnny Beth, best known as the

frontwoman of UK post-punk band

Savages, is sitting at her home in

Paris mid-lockdown, pondering

positives of the new normal. “Maybe

we need to reset our priorities,” she

says. “This might make us realise we

need to slow down a bit.”

It’s hard to imagine Beth – real

name Camille Berthomier – slowing

down. The 35-year-old is a social

animal, which she attributes to

mingling with creative types – her

parents were theatre directors – at

the family home in Poitiers, western

France, during her youth. It’s partly

why she now hosts Echoes, a chat

show on the European TV network

ARTE, for which she’s interviewed the

likes of Primal Scream and IDLES.

“I love it,” she says. “I always feel

inspired after talking to other artists

about what they do.”

Beth also hosts a radio show on

Beats 1; acts in arthouse movies;

plays in another band, John & Jehn;

runs her own label; released her

debut solo album, To Love Is To Live,

in June; and has just published

a collection of erotic short stories,

titled C.A.L.M: Crimes Against Love

Memories. Here, she talks about

the challenge of change, her love

of risk-taking, and why we should

all embrace our fantasies…

the red bulletin: You have a lot

of projects on the go. How many

outlets does Jehnny Beth need?

jehnny beth: I think it’s all down

to curiosity. When people come with

a project unlike anything I’ve done

before, I think, “Why not?” I have

no idea if I’m up to the task, but I’m

going to do everything I can to make

it work. Sometimes you do things

that are a bit out of character, but

I feel that the world is a little bit

more accepting of that nowadays.

You recently released your solo

debut. What prompted that?

It was time for me to take a risk. I

didn’t want to be the kind of singer

who is enslaved to a band. I wanted

to see what I was worth on my own.

It felt like a risk, and I was definitely

advised that it might be, but that’s

something I’ve often heard during

my career. I like the sensation of

starting from scratch, of doing the

wrong thing – it’s kind of exciting.

The album focuses on your fears

and insecurities. Was it difficult

turning the spotlight on yourself?

If I was going to make a personal

record, I had to commit to showing

every part of myself, even those

I was most ashamed of. “If you’re

going to try, go all the way” – that’s

the [Charles] Bukowski line, isn’t it?

That doesn’t mean there was no

resistance; I think every human

being fights against change initially.

But I don’t want to make art or

music that isn’t going to change me.

Was that also the allure of your

music chat show, Echoes?

[Talking to other musicians] is

something I do anyway; if I like a

new artist, I’ll write to them and say,

“Hey, I love what you’re doing.”

When I started Savages, artists like

Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye [both

US punk icons] and PJ Harvey

would come and talk to me. Their

generosity influenced me – having

that openness to just tap someone

on the shoulder and say, “Hey, I’m

here, I see you, I see what you’re

doing, and I have questions.”

What inspired your new collection

of erotic short stories?

I’m interested in the subject of

sexuality, and in fantasies and the

part that imagination plays in them.

It all started when Johnny Hostile

[Beth’s longtime partner and

producer] and I moved to Paris

three years ago. He picked up

photography as a new medium and

took pictures of me and friends.

The images deal with the subject of

sexuality and the liberation of the

body. Suddenly, I realised people

are free to speak and share and talk

about their fantasies, and I thought

that was kind of a goldmine for

writing. Not that it’s a new subject

– erotic literature is enormous.

What were you hoping to add to

the genre?

I think young people are very

interested in finding new modes of

loving. All I’m trying to do is observe

and offer alternatives to family, to

monogamy, to this generational

inheritance that creates a form of

imprisonment. If we want to talk

about women’s liberation, we have

to talk about the liberation of the

couple, of the relationship – I think

they go hand in hand.

So we should explore our fantasies?

Why not? I don’t think there’s a

reason to oppress them – that’s

definitely not healthy. I believe it’s

better to be creative with them.

Ever considered becoming more

of a writer than a performer?

I definitely feel that I want to write

more. I’ve got another idea for a

book. I don’t know if it will get me

anywhere, but you have to try.

Which goes back to taking risks…

Yeah. You’ve just got to make the

most of life. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Jehnny Beth’s book C.A.L.M: Crimes

Against Love Memories is out now;

jehnnybeth.com

22 THE RED BULLETIN


”I don’t want

to make art

or music that

isn’t going to

change me”

THE RED BULLETIN 23


Gaika

Power is in

our hands

Gaika is a visionary musician and activist on

a mission to make the world better. Here, the

Londoner reveals how we all can take part

Words FLORIAN OBKIRCHER

For Gaika Tavares, life and art are

intrinsically linked. Some musicians

provide the listener with a lighthearted

escape from the world’s

turmoil; the South-London based

artist, director and political activist

known simply as Gaika, does the

opposite. With futuristic tunes

that blend dancehall, rap and

experimental R&B, Gaika processes

his observations and experiences

as a Black man living in the UK.

This approach has earned the

30-year-old a reputation as electronic

music’s dark prophet. On Blasphemer,

a song from his 2015 debut mixtape,

the son of Jamaican and Grenadian

parents repeats the line “I can’t

breathe”, a sentence that gained

tragic notoriety after the killing of

American George Floyd in May this

year. In his 2017 short story The

Spectacular Empire, Gaika envisions

cities shaken by demonstrations and

civil unrest over police brutality.

However, on Seguridad, the

follow-up to his critically acclaimed

2018 debut album Basic Volume,

optimism prevails. Gaika sees the

current situation as an opportunity

to make the world a fairer place.

the red bulletin: Do you think

the perception of your music as

dark and apocalyptic is fair?

gaika: I get frustrated when people

view my work that way. I don’t think

my songs are negative. I focus on the

future, like, “OK, what can we do

now?” We’re at a juncture where we

decide what happens in this new

version of the world. And that starts

with the people. That starts with

mutual aid, with looking at our

neighbours, our friends and family

and believing we have collective

power. I’ve always felt that we can

change things for the better.

Your recent Nine Nights project

[a series of live-streamed events

in aid of Black-focused charities]

seems a good example…

I don’t believe that charity is the

answer, but at the same time I have

to ask the question: what are the

real fruits of my labour, and who

does it benefit? All the money that

comes from people who want to

listen to my songs, where does it

end up? It ends up on the wrist of

some hedge-fund guy. Let’s get real,

that’s what happens in music. And

I believe our creative labour should

be used to benefit artists and the

communities they’ve come from.

But don’t you need the likes of

Spotify to increase your audience

and spread this message further?

I was signed to [renowned electronic

music label] Warp Records, and

they made their business rely on

Spotify. I didn’t agree with that, so

I’m no longer signed to Warp. It’s

that simple. Yes, I want to be heard

by a lot of people, but what’s more

important to me is actually being

able to make a valuable contribution

to our society. I speak through

platforms like Red Bull because

I think it’s important that my

message gets heard, but at the same

time I’m doing things in my life to

balance that. In that way, in some

sense we hold these entities to

account. I focus on the positive

bits I can do, rather than thinking,

“Oh, it’s hopeless.”

What if artists feel they’re too

small to have an influence?

I don’t believe market forces are

sacred. It’s only human beings who

make the decisions in these big

companies. If we can influence those

decisions, we’ve got our part to play.

Ultimately, we have the power –

we’re the ones who make the songs

that the people like. It’s just about

whether you do the harder thing

or [you’re happy] to live in this

bubble of materialism and non-stop

hedonism. I don’t want to stand in

judgement of people, but for me

it’s not a difficult decision.

Can music can be a positive force

for change in the current climate?

I don’t think it’s the only way, but it

has a part to play. I mean, what are

we doing? This coronavirus thing,

it showed we’re not invincible. Like,

humanity can get into situations

of danger. So, are we going to live

together, or will we continue to

exploit the earth and motor towards

extinction? And those of us who are

good at communicating – artists,

musicians – what are we trying to

say? What do we do with the wealth

that music generates? I think music

is definitely part of this moment.

How can consumers of music

make a difference?

I don’t aim to preach, but it comes

down to this: where you spend your

money has an impact. If you spend

your money with people who are

engaged in conscious business, we

can force bigger companies to do

the same and stop destroying the

natural environment or tolerating

racism. We’ve always been told we’ll

never be able to compete with big

businesses, but I don’t think that’s

true. People pay attention, they look

at a company’s behaviour, and they

decide if they want to support them

with their money. That is power,

and we need to make use of it.

Gaika’s latest album, Seguridad,

is out now on NAAFI, the label run

by the socially active Mexican DJ

collective of the same name;

naafi.bandcamp.com

EMMANUEL S

24 THE RED BULLETIN


“I’ve always

felt that we

can change

things for

the better”

THE RED BULLETIN 25


Jasmin Paris

Tough mother

The British ultrarunning champion on how

having a child gave her the motivation to win

Words FLORIAN OBKIRCHER

of mud; you see animals like foxes

and birds, too. I really like running

up a hill with the challenge of

reaching the top, the feeling of

acceleration, of running along

a ridge and it stretching in all

directions. And then there’s the

sunrise. I find it hard to imagine

a situation better than that.

In January last year, British runner

Jasmin Paris became the first

woman to win the Spine Race, a

gruelling 431km ultramarathon

along the Pennine Way – crossing

the hills known as “the backbone of

England” – from the Peak District

to just inside the Scottish border.

She completed the course in 83

hours and 12 minutes, smashing the

previous men’s record by more than

12 hours and beating her nearest

male rival by 15 hours. It was one

of the best moments of her life, but

not the greatest – that would be

giving birth to her daughter, Rowan,

just over a year earlier. Paris spent

her rest stops at aid stations along

the route, expressing milk for her

then 13-month-old child.

Amazingly, the 36-year-old

doesn’t consider herself a

professional athlete, despite having

achieved a number of race records

in her career, winning the British

Fell Running Championship in 2015

and 2018, and taking the crown

in the Sky Extreme category of

the 2016 Skyrunner World Series.

“I have a talent for endurance and

long-distance running, but I’m a

normal person with a full-time job,”

says Paris, who works as a vet at the

University of Edinburgh. “I just do

the thing I love, alongside work,

and with a child running around.

I eat normal food, and I drink

alcohol when I’m not pregnant.”

To compete in the Spine Race,

she had to take a week off from her

PhD in veterinary science. And yet,

it’s the narrative of Paris as a new

mother besting men at their own

game that grabbed the headlines.

Her victory in the Spine Race came

in a year that saw a number of

women triumph in previously

male-dominated ultra-disciplines

– among them, German cyclist

Fiona Kolbinger, who won the

Transcontinental Race through

Europe (4,000km in just over

10 days), and US swimmer Sarah

Thomas, who became the first

person to swim the English Channel

four times non-stop (215km in

around 54 hours).

Paris has plenty to say on why

women are more than capable of

beating men in sport, and how

her motherhood may even be an

advantage. As for her position as

a role model for sporting mothers,

she’s unfazed by it all. “I’m not

bothered about being a celebrity,

but people find it helpful,” she says.

“Running just makes me happy, and

having that time for myself makes

it easier to cope with the challenges

of work and having a small child.”

the red bulletin: When did your

passion for running begin?

jasmin paris: I’ve always been into

hill walking, and the differences

between that and trail running

aren’t huge. I discovered it when

I was working in Glossop in the

Peak District [in 2008] as a way

of getting onto the hills quicker.

Within an hour, I could be on the

hill and back again before breakfast.

That’s pretty special. Ultrarunning

was a natural progression, but trail

running is what I love.

What is it about the hills that

draws you to them?

Mountains give me a sense of

perspective – there’s a timelessness

that makes all the things we worry

about seem irrelevant. You’re

running in your own world, with the

smell of rain, the mist, the sloshing

Did starting a family change all

of that for you?

I competed in a hill race 10 days

before the birth, and I ran the park

run three days before. I ran the day

I went into labour, too. It’s my way

of life and it makes me feel good

about myself. It was just natural

that I came back to running

afterwards. The post-birth recovery

was fairly quick, then I was back

into it. I started gently jogging four

weeks after Rowan was born.

You’ve said it’s important to

have something else in your life

besides being a parent…

Being a mum is the best thing that’s

ever happened to me, but having

something I’m passionate about

makes me a better mum. Sometimes

I look at the way our society works,

with parents spending their whole

life driving their kids from one place

to the next. That’s great, because

they’re encouraging the child, but

I’m not sure it’s the best example for

the child to feel that’s the way the

world works – that everything just

revolves around them. It’s good for

them to see their parents enjoying

their own lives, because that’s what

you want for them, too – to grow up

being passionate about something

they want to be.

What was the toughest moment

of the Spine Race for you?

My main worry on the start line

wasn’t my physical fitness, or breast

milk, it was leaving my daughter for

that length of time. The first night

was the hardest, because I already

felt tired and still had more than

200 miles [320km] to run to see

Rowan. You’d think you’d get more

and more tired, but on the last day

I knew I was leading the race and

I’d see my daughter that evening. It

was actually an advantage, because

it kept me moving.

SKYLINE SCOTLAND/NO LIMITS PHOTOGRAPHY

26 THE RED BULLETIN


The real

heroes are

the runners

at the back

of the field”

THE RED BULLETIN 27


“Having

this passion

makes me a

better mum”

Unstoppable: inclement weather is

like water off an ultrarunner’s back

for an athlete such as Paris, pictured

here en route to her record-breaking

triumph in last year’s Spine Race;

(below left) Paris poses with her

very muddy tools of the trade;

(below right) competing in the

2018 Glen Coe Skyline race, where

she took second place

28 THE RED BULLETIN


Jasmin Paris

MICK KENYON, PETE AYLWARD, JAMES KIRBY

What’s it like in those moments of

absolute exhaustion?

I was hallucinating. Shapes morph and

change. In a way, it was an interesting

distraction. When I was getting close to

the very end, it looked like there were

people at the side of the road. It was

only trees, but your mind starts

showing you things you want to see.

Your main rival, Spanish runner

and 2013 men’s champion Eugeni

Roselló Solé, quit just 6km from the

finish. What would have been going

through his mind?

When you’re trying to win a race like

the Spine, sometimes you overstep the

mark. Eugene was chasing me all

through the night before, and I think

he pushed himself to the limit. I was

wearing every item of clothing I had

– six layers, three pairs of leggings –

but it’s difficult to stay warm when

you’re not moving fast. He had less

gear than me. That’s part of your

decision-making – how much weight

you’re carrying, how fast you’re moving

– and ultimately it didn’t pay off [for

him]. That night, it started snowing

and the temperature was way below

zero. If you’re getting too cold and

you’re moving too slowly, it’s a vicious

circle. I’m just glad he was rescued and

safe in the end.

There’s been a lot of talk about

women outperforming men in ultra

events. What’s your take?

I get this question a lot. I’m not a

scientist. I mean, I am a scientist, but

this is not my area of studies. I’ve found

that the longer the race, the more

competitive I can be with men. If you’re

running a short race, it comes down

to strength and aerobics. With long

distances, stamina is obviously

important, but 50 per cent of it is in

your head – in a 24-hour race, you’ll go

through bad stretches, but it’s about

learning that you’ll come out the other

side feeling better again. It’s meditative.

In my experience, the women who turn

up at long races, even if they’re just 10

per cent of the field, are usually better

prepared. They’re less likely to have

this macho attitude of “how hard can

it be?” At the Dragon’s Back Race in

Wales, I was told that if you’re a man

you have a 50 per cent chance of

finishing; if you’re a woman, you have

a 90 per cent chance.

How can we change sport so more

women get involved?

At races, especially the bigger ones,

a readjustment in terms of gender

equality is due. There needs to be

equal prize money and equal trophies

for women. It doesn’t matter if there

are fewer women taking part – that’s

not an excuse. It has to start with

everything being made equal, then

more women will join.

Your success in the Spine Race drew

attention to mothers in sport…

I’ve had so much positive feedback

from people telling me their own

personal stories and how they’ve

been inspired, including lots of mums,

some of them in breastfeeding groups.

It’s just this message about women,

about mothers, doing sport. I do my

best to support that. Like with This

Mum Runs, a volunteer-led company

dedicated to getting more women out

running. It is a real problem – a lot

of women think they can’t do sports,

and some have issues with their body

image. I hope that people like me will

help to change that, so this movement

is aimed at getting mums running

together as a social thing. Regardless

of your gender, sport shouldn’t be

about being good – it should be about

taking part and enjoying it. Sport

in schools shouldn’t be about the

competitive element.

Who inspires you?

There are certainly some women

I admire a lot. [British fell runner]

Helene Diamantides raised the profile

of women in the early days of the

sport. And [Scottish skyrunner]

Angela Mudge. But they didn’t make

me start running – that came from the

love of it. It sounds corny, but I feel

more inspired by the people at the

back of the field. They generally run

twice as long as those at the front.

I’d finish in eight or nine hours and

have time to rest, eat, relax and sleep;

they’re running 16-18 hours a day

with six hours to eat, sleep, change

clothes and set off again. They don’t

have the promise of winning and

fame, and the aid stations are

depleted of the best food by the time

they reach them, yet the spirit they

show… They’re the real heroes. I get

most of my motivation from them.

Twitter: @JasminKParis

THE RED BULLETIN 29


AND THE

BEAT

GOES ON

In the six decades of its existence,

NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL has faced challenges

from many quarters. But this annual celebration

of Caribbean culture has prevailed. This year,

although the traditional live event has been put

on hold, the story continues…

Words GEORGIA CHAMBERS

Artwork CHIIZII

FLORIAN OBKIRCHER (ADDITIONAL WORDS)

30 THE RED BULLETIN


Notting Hill Carnival

“Carnival is a

reminder that

it’s possible

for people to

be together

and unite”

his summer has been a quiet one

for fans of live music because of the

pandemic. But there is one festival

that has, in its rich history, often

managed to find opportunity when

faced with setbacks. When, in 1959,

activist Claudia Jones staged the

celebration of Caribbean culture

that would become the Notting Hill

Carnival, it was a reaction to race

riots in the neighbourhood, a call

for peace and unity within the local

community. Over the past six

decades, the event has grown far

beyond anything Jones could have

imagined. Carnival is now the world’s

second-biggest street festival, with

40,000 volunteers and more than

a million visitors each year, adding

£93 million to the UK economy.

In 2020, the live event has been

cancelled, but Carnival is far from

over. Organisers are busy creating

its first digital edition, where, over

August Bank Holiday weekend, mas

bands, steel bands, sound systems,

dancers and DJs will be streamed

live to the world, giving millions

a deeper insight into what Carnival

culture is all about. Because Notting

Hill Carnival has always been more

than a street party; it’s a living

history. Here, eight people involved in

different aspects of Carnival explain

how it has helped to shape their lives.

nhcarnival.org

MATTHEW

PHILLIP

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

OFFICER, NOTTING

HILL CARNIVAL

Matthew Phillip doesn’t

remember his first Carnival.

At the age of just two years

old, he witnessed the

festivities from his buggy.

Such an early introduction

isn’t surprising when you

learn that he’s the son of

Notting Hill Carnival veteran

Clive Phillip (see page 35).

Matthew’s first Carnival

memories are as an eightyear-old.

“I would wear a

costume and sit on a float as

it went around the parade,”

he remembers. “Rather than

there being a set route, the

band would be based on All

Saints Road. There would be

music playing, and when the

steel band felt like it they’d

get on the float. There were

no trucks pulling the floats

– people would push them.

It was ultimately very

environmentally friendly!”

Needless to say, presentday

Carnival is a very

different affair, with more

than a million visitors each

year (making it second only

to Rio in the big league of

street festivals) and more than

25,000 performers, 15,000

handmade costumes, 250

food stalls, 70 bands and 35

sound systems. And Matthew

is the man who makes the

spectacle happen. The

48-year-old is humble when

32 THE RED BULLETIN


discussing his role, however.

“I try to make sure everyone’s

voices are heard, to steer the

event in a way that everyone

can buy into and feel that

they’re part of it,” he says. “If

there was somebody leading

and saying, ‘OK, this is what

we’re going to do,’ that

wouldn’t be what Carnival

represents. Carnival has

grown organically.”

Notting Hill Carnival has

deep roots in London and

beyond. As a reaction to

the Notting Hill race riots

the previous year, in 1959

Trinidadian journalist and

human-rights activist Claudia

Jones staged an indoor

Caribbean Carnival at

London’s St Pancras Town

Hall. Seven years later,

community activist Rhaune

Laslett took the idea

outdoors and created the

first Notting Hill Carnival,

which was attended by 500

people. The aim of the event,

originally organised for

children, was to promote

integration and cultural

exchange through the

involvement of local residents

who had emigrated to the

area from the West Indies.

It’s this 54-year legacy that

has made the cancellation

of the 2020 Carnival – the

first in its history, as a

consequence of COVID-19

restrictions – all the more

painful. “If you’d asked me a

year ago, I would have said

there was nothing that could

ever cancel Carnival,” says

Matthew. “But in the interests

of safety, and particularly

the way [COVID-19] has

been affecting the Black

community, there was

nothing else we could do.

It wouldn’t have been wise

to continue.”

Rather than accept defeat,

however, Matthew and his

team decided to turn this

difficult situation into a new

opportunity – the chance to

take Notting Hill Carnival

global for the very first time.

At the time of our interview,

Matthew and a crew of

around 30 directors, camera

operators and others are

preparing to shoot the trailer

for what will be Carnival’s

first digital edition. “We plan

to show people around the

world what Carnival is about,

and what it has to offer, in

more detail than you’d be

able to see if you came in

person. You’ll be able to see

performances and also get an

understanding of the history

behind the costumes, the

steel pan and the artists.”

For Matthew, giving

people an insight into

Carnival’s roots and processes

is an integral part of his work

towards greater tolerance and

an anti-racist society. “Recent

events have shown that

actually we haven’t come as

far as we would hope,” he

says. “Racism today is much

more subtle; it’s behind

closed doors, it’s systemic.

Carnival is a reminder that all

this diversity can exist in the

same space and we can be at

ease with each other; that it

is possible for people to be

together and unite, no matter

the colour of their skin.”

THE RED BULLETIN 33


“I love telling

stories with my

costumes”

CLARY

SALANDY

COSTUME DESIGNER,

MAHOGANY CARNIVAL ARTS

Clary Salandy came to England from

Trinidad as a child. It had always been

her intention to study music, but when

then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

raised university fees for overseas students,

art was the less expensive option.

“I applied to do theatre design at

the Wimbledon School of Art,” Clary

remembers. “In my interview, they asked

me, ‘You don’t know anything about

theatre – why are you applying?’ So

I said, ‘I’m from Trinidad and we do

this street theatre thing.’ I was able to

turn that interview into a discussion

on Carnival, and they took me on.”

Today, Clary is one of the UK’s most

accomplished costume designers. She

has taught at the renowned London art

school Central St Martins and created

costumes for prestigious events including

the Olympics opening ceremony in 2012

and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. It all

began with a passion for Carnival. In

1989, she formed Mahogany, a Carnival

arts organisation that became known

for its spectacular costumes, some of

them 15ft high. Mahogany lends its

talents to events worldwide, but there

will always be a special place for

Notting Hill Carnival because of its

importance to the community.

“A lot of people who started with us in

1989 are still with us, and their children

are doing it now, too,” says Clary. “That’s

what we want: a culture that has a

future, and where these skills and values

get passed on and on. That’s really

important because it, too, is a tradition

in African oral history – you take the

tradition and you pass it on – so we hold

true to that. So, anybody who comes in,

their family must come in, too.”

In Trinidad in the late 18th century,

slaves were banned from joining in the

celebrations of the European settlers, so

created their own version of Carnival –

Canboulay – in defiance. Homage is

paid to this history throughout Clary’s

costume designs. “If you were a slave

and put on a costume for Carnival, you

wouldn’t just be dancing,” she says. “You’d

be looking back and commemorating.

You’re standing your ground for what

happened to you – it’s a protest. Carnival

is an art form that has been handed

down to us from that horrible journey

where people died to enable us to be free

and walk on the street.” With the

Carnival outfits she makes, Clary says,

people commemorate their ancestors’

struggle in a similar way to those who

wear the remembrance poppy.

“I love telling important stories with

my costumes, so the passion is there,”

she says. “Whatever I intend to do, I’m

going to do it well. Carnival is a loud

voice for the Black community, because

there really isn’t anything so big and

recognised as a Black art form. All those

things channelled me into becoming

this Carnival woman.”

STEPHEN RAMDEEN, ROBBIE JOSEPH/PANPODIUM

34 THE RED BULLETIN


Notting Hill Carnival

CLIVE

‘MASHUP’

PHILLIP

COMMUNITY ACTIVIST,

FOUNDER, MANGROVE

STEELBAND

When Clive ‘Mashup’ Phillip

came to the UK from Trinidad

in 1961, Notting Hill was very

different from how it is today.

Like many in the Windrush

generation, the then 19-yearold

had answered the call

from the British government

for help in rebuilding the

country. But those who

arrived in search of a new life

were greeted with signs that

read, ‘No dogs, no Blacks, no

Irish,’ and were forced to live

in almost slum-like conditions.

In 1958, a mob of around

400 White people, inflamed

by right-wing groups, chased

Black residents through the

streets and attacked their

houses in what would

become known as the Notting

Hill race riots. “Notting Hill

was a bombsite,” remembers

Clive, now 78. “Race relations

in the area were terrible.”

At the time, he was

residing on All Saints Road,

opposite the now infamous

Mangrove restaurant, a hub

for local Caribbeans that was

also frequented by famous

faces including Bob Marley

and Marvin Gaye. “It wasn’t

just a building, it was a

community,” says Clive. “The

police were determined to

terrorise Black people. This is

when we stood up and fought.

We started doing things like

building homes for our elders

and supporting ex-offenders

leaving prison. What the police

didn’t realise was that they

were making us stronger.”

In 1980, this activism

led Clive to start Mangrove

Steelband. “To me, it was

something for the youths,

to keep them out of trouble,

because a lot of youth clubs

were closing down,” he says

of the band, now a big name

in their field. “They enjoyed

playing pan because it gave

them confidence.”

The steel drum (or pan)

has long been a symbol of

defiance. In 1877, enslaved

Trinidadians were banned by

the British from playing hand

drums, so turned to beating

bamboo tubes. Then, after

“What the

police didn’t

realise is

that they

were

making us

stronger”

WWII, the island was awash

with oil drums that had been

left behind by the US forces,

so the Trinidadians began

experimenting with these.

The development of the steel

pan began in different stages,”

explains Clive. “First one

note, two, three, then scales.”

Mangrove Steelband

are now synonymous with

Notting Hill Carnival, but

their longevity has not come

without struggle. Clive recalls

police in the ’70s and ’80s

making repeated attempts to

scupper their involvement.

“One year, they’re blocking

the roads and won’t let us

pass, so [steel bands] Ebony

and Eclipse decide that if they

don’t let Mangrove [through],

nothing will move. Eventually

the police said we could join.

We could hear people say,

‘Mangrove is coming!’”

Carnival became an excuse

for the targeting of Black

people by the authorities. In

1976, with tensions high due

to the ‘sus’ law – police could

stop, search and even arrest

any person they suspected of

criminal intent – there were

clashes between police and

some in the Black community.

Anticipating trouble, as many

as 3,000 officers had turned

up to Carnival – 10 times the

usual number. “Carnival was

like a battlefield,” Clive says.

“We were playing on All Saints

Road when a fight started on

Portobello Road. The police

came, smashed everything up.”

Despite an unfair portrayal

in the media as a hotspot for

crime, today’s Carnival has

around the same number of

arrests per 10,000 people as

Glastonbury, which is often

praised for its low offence

rate. For Clive, it’s important

to remember the past. “A lot

of people don’t know the

history of Carnival or slavery,”

he says, “so it’s important

that people understand why

they’re attending Carnival

– to learn and experience

culture, not just to party.”

THE RED BULLETIN 35


Notting Hill Carnival

JAMES WATKINS/BBC

“Carnival

boosts your

confidence”

CARMEN

LONDON

DJ, DISYA JENERATION

SOUND SYSTEM

Many of us remember our first club night

as a transformative moment, a feeling

of entering a forbidden world. But for

Carmen London it was more than that.

When she entered the Union Club in

Vauxhall, south London, at the age of

18, it was life-altering for two reasons.

Firstly, she had never been in a crowd

of LGBT people of colour before – “I was

like, ‘Wow, I never knew that there are

others like me’” – and secondly, as she

watched the DJ controlling the crowd,

she found her purpose in life.

Carmen was raised on a broad diet

of musical styles by her Jamaican parents

– from reggae to country – so the south

Londoner quickly appreciated that there

are hidden gems in every genre. This

turned her into a music collector very

early on, so by the time she witnessed

the DJ at the Union Club, Carmen was

ready. Within a year she had played

LGBT events in London, soon followed

by club bookings across Europe.

And yet, when she was asked by a

fellow DJ to play Notting Hill Carnival

in 2015, despite all her experience it

didn’t feel like just another gig. “For

a DJ, playing at Carnival is one of your

big goals,” says the 32-year-old. “It was

like a dream come true.”

The sound system she was asked

to play for, Disya Jeneration, is one

of Carnival’s biggest, entertaining

thousands of dancers on a tightly packed

Powis Terrace with a mix of hip hop,

house, dancehall and more. “It can be

scary at first,” she says of her first time.

“It’s so different from a nightclub gig;

the crowd is huge, and a lot of people

don’t know who you are, so you need to

read the crowd, find out what they like

and keep the energy level high.”

Disya Jeneration is run by Carnival

board director Linett Kamala, who, in the

early ’80s, became one of the first female

DJs to play at Carnival and has subsequently

provided a platform for others like her.

“Linett has been a mentor to me,” Carmen

says. “When she passed me the baton

[to help curate the sound system’s DJ

line-up], it was a big deal.”

Through her work with Disya

Jeneration, scouting for up-and-coming

DJs has become an important part of

Carmen’s life. Being given the chance to

DJ at Carnival was a career-defining

moment for her, so she wants to provide

other young people with the same

opportunity. “A Carnival gig is great for

your CV,” she says, “but, most important

of all, it boosts your confidence. And that

helps you in all areas of life.”

This August Bank Holiday weekend,

Carmen and her sound system crew will

evoke Carnival vibes from their homes

via livestreaming. As a radio presenter

– Carmen hosts shows on BBC Radio 1Xtra

and Pulse88 Radio – the idea of DJing

in a studio is something she’s used to.

“I’ll miss all the people screaming and

shouting,” she says. “But we’ll give the

crowd the same music and the same

energy we always do.”

HASAN

DE FOUR

CHEF, PURE LIME

CHOCOLATE MAS

“For the past 15 years, I’ve

looked after the catering for

Pure Lime Chocolate Mas,”

says Hasan De Four. “I

remember when it started,

with 20 people coming out

covered in chocolate, everyone

was like, ‘What is that about?’

But it was something that was

missing in the UK Carnival

scene: there was no J’ouvert.”

J’ouvert is a Carnival

tradition in Hasan’s home of

Trinidad that dates back to the

emancipation from slavery of

the Caribbean islands in 1838.

Before the ‘Pretty Mas’ where

dancers parade in feathers

and sequins, revellers daub

themselves in oil, paint and

mud – the ‘Dirty Mas’. Of

course, being a chef, Hasan

prefers chocolate; the 43-yearold

is open to progress as well

as respectful of tradition.

In 1995, an 18-year-old

Hasan came to London to live

with his mother and his

grandparents – members of

the Windrush generation who

arrived from the Caribbean

between the late ’40s and

early ’70s. “I got here the

week before Carnival,” he

says. “It was different to the

Carnival at home. [Veteran

hip-hop DJ Tim] Westwood

was playing! I headed to the

Trini float to get my soca on

– that was my introduction.”

Hasan found his passion

in catering and championing

Caribbean food. “I was like,

‘Why isn’t our food recognised?’

People say London is the

original melting pot, but we’ve

been doing it longer. Our

food comes from the native

Arawaks; from the British,

Spanish and Portuguese

colonists; from African slaves;

from Chinese and Indian

labourers – it’s a real fusion.”

Opportunities soon came

Hasan’s way, including a stint

THE RED BULLETIN 37


Notting Hill Carnival

as Gary Rhodes’ sous chef

on TV, and the launch of

Singapore’s first Caribbean

restaurant, Lime House. “On

the first day, we mirrored

Notting Hill,” he says. “We

called it Lime Hill. But because

we were new, we didn’t get to

block any streets.” He also

pitched cuisine to UK clubs

and festivals. “I was like,

‘Why don’t you have food

inside the parties?’ They were

like, ‘Sure, go ahead.’”

And then there’s Carnival.

“I cater more than 2,400

meals,” Hasan says. “Breakfast

is fried eggs, dumplings,

saltfish, plantain; callaloo

[a thick stew made with

spinach-like greens] for the

vegans. Lunchtime is pelau

– Trini chicken, peas and

“Food and

culture are

like bread

and butter”

veg in one pot – soaking up

the fuel intake for Carnival

weekend. Trini corn soup,

that’s the reviver,” he laughs.

The chef says his favourite

moment is shortly before the

revellers arrive. “On the Friday,

I leave the kitchen, walk

through Ladbroke Grove, and

feel the change in the air.

They’re dropping the barriers,

the steel pan is testing. It’s

the last Bank Holiday of the

year, and you know that the

following week it’ll get cold.

It’s the last celebration before

we go into that dreary time.”

This year, things may be

different for Carnival, but Hasan

is excited by the potential.

“We’re doing cooking sessions,”

he says. “People can go to this

one spot and be educated by

myself or a mixologist doing

rum punch. And it’ll be

broadcast internationally.

“It’s going to be different

but still fun. You can still

enjoy your own space, turn

your music up, and invite

your neighbours to eat some

jerk chicken. Let’s create our

own vibe in-house.”

MIKEY

DREAD

SELECTOR, CHANNEL

ONE SOUND SYSTEM

Some people learn how to

operate a sound system –

others, like sound-system

veteran Mikey Dread, inherit

it. “From the youngest age,

we’ve always known sound

systems; it’s basically in the

blood. That’s how we

started,” he says, recounting

his father arriving in the UK

from Jamaica in the late ’50s

with a sound system in tow.

Having taken over the

running of their dad’s set-up in

1979, Mikey and his brother

Jah T began performing at

local venues and adopted the

name Channel One. In 1983,

the siblings pitched up at a

spot on Acklam Road and

played their first Notting Hill

Carnival – and they’ve been

bringing reggae and roots

rhythms to listeners young

and old ever since.

“We go to Carnival for

the people,” says Mikey. “It’s

great to see old faces you’ve

known for 25 years, as well

as new faces just enjoying

the vibe. We don’t play any

music that incites violence or

negativity – that’s not what

people come to Channel

One’s Carnival for. They

come for spiritual healing.

A lot of people could have

been experiencing problems

during that week, and they

will come to Carnival and

dance for a couple of days

and go back a better person.

That’s what reggae and roots

music is all about.”

GETTY IMAGES

38 THE RED BULLETIN


They

come

for

spiritual

healing”


Channel One is now one of

the UK’s best-known reggae

sound systems, with a loyal

fan base, but Mikey and his

brother have walked a long

and arduous road to reach

this level of success.

“In the ’70s and ’80s, a lot

of venues wouldn’t let us

take our sound system in,

so we ended up in backstreet

community centres and things

like that,” he says. “We’ve

gone through all this fight to

pave the way for younger

sound systems.”

Mikey’s experience echoes

history. When the sound

system arrived in England

from the Caribbean in the

’50s, they often had to be

set up in basements and old

warehouses, away from

Britain’s more mainstream

pubs and social spaces which,

for many Caribbean people,

could feel like a hostile

environment. The sound

system created a more

welcoming space. For Mikey,

honouring this history is

important: “Black people have

taken a lot of shit throughout

the years. That’s why I keep

the sound system going – it’s a

Black entity, it’s a Black unit.”

Mikey and Jah T don’t

plan on turning down the

volume any time soon. In a

time when you can buy huge

sound systems that are almost

ready-made, in their eyes

it has become even more

crucial to pass on traditions

– and part of sound-system

culture is building the set-up

from scratch.

“If you really love sound

systems and reggae, you’re

in it for the long haul,” says

Mikey. “The music itself is

very important in my family’s

life, because that’s what we’ve

grown up with. Pops isn’t here

any more, but my mother is,

and she was the backbone of

our family when it comes to

music. So it’s very important

that we keep it together and

people know we’re trying to

keep it going.”

RHONA EZUMA

DANCER, PARAISO SCHOOL

OF SAMBA

On a typical Monday during Carnival,

more than 70 bands parade the streets

of Notting Hill, with in excess of 25,000

dancers in flamboyant costumes

decorated with feathers and tassels. As a

roadside spectator, you’re lucky to catch

10 minutes of each band. So what you

don’t get to see is that many dancers are

moving to the Carnival rhythms for six

hours a day.

“It’s very long, but some Carnivals

are more gruelling than others,” says

30-year-old fashion stylist and THIIIRD

magazine editor Rhona Ezuma, recalling

the intense summer heat of last year’s

“Carnival is

a space to

celebrate

your body”

event. “Despite the weather, I feel it’s my

responsibility to push joy out there!”

Rhona first started parading with

the Paraiso School of Samba in 2015.

A big inspiration for her was seeing the

confidence of the women participating

in the first Carnival she attended, at

the age of 15. This was one of the things

that made her fall in love with it.

“Carnival is a place where you can be

the largest woman or the smallest, show

as much as you want or as little as you

want,” she says. “And no one is telling

you that you can’t be who you are.”

What’s so special about Carnival,

Rhona says, is that it creates a safe space

for Black women’s bodies in particular,

which have historically been subject

to scrutiny. “Even today, when having

a big bum and big lips is in fashion, these

are features that Black women were

previously ridiculed for. And now, in the

mainstream, they’re celebrated more on

White women than on Black women.”

The freedom and confidence Rhona

and many revellers feel at Carnival is

intrinsically linked to dancing. “At

Carnival, I make use of my hips, the bits

that move and jiggle,” she says. “That’s

DINITA MOORE

40 THE RED BULLETIN


Notting Hill Carnival

what makes it such a powerful space for

women to celebrate their bodies.”

Samba has influenced Rhona’s work

beyond the dance moves. Although it’s

known today as a Brazilian brand of

dance, the roots of samba can be found

in the semba, a style that originated

in Angola, south-west Africa. When

Portuguese slave traders transported

Angolans to the state of Bahia in northeast

Brazil in the early 17th century, the

slaves maintained this tradition. With

the abolition of slavery in Brazil in the

late 19th century, those who had been

freed settled in the favelas of Rio de

Janeiro, where they developed their

own form of samba. “Being around those

stories has inspired certain headpieces

and accessories I’ve made,” Rhona says.

There’s a recognition of those stories

in the garments I create.”

On a personal level, the sense of

achievement Rhona feels post-Carnival

lives on long after the floats have passed.

“I’m knackered by the end of it, but that

same feeling of ‘Wow, this is what I’ve

done…’ lives on,” she says. “I think I’ve

learnt to treasure that a lot more. I think

that’s made me a more secure person.”

LEONE

BUNCOMBE

PRODUCTION

MANAGER, MANGROVE

MAS BAND

Leone Buncombe designs

and creates more than 200

costumes for Carnival each

year, but on the big day you’ll

find her in jeans and a T-shirt.

“It’s funny,” she says. “I’ve

never been the kind to dress

up. When I was younger, I’d go

to Carnival with my mum, who

was a seamstress. She wasn’t

a costume person either.”

However, as production

manager for Mangrove Mas

Band (short for masquerade

band), one of Carnival’s most

historic costume troupes,

the 36-year-old is passionate

about her creations. “It’s

the spectacle of costume,

starting with an idea, going

through the design process

and creating something

“We try to

get young

people into

creative

industries.

Carnival

is a great

route in”

unexpected,” she says. “You

can go anywhere with it.

Creating costumes for

Mangrove Mas Band is a

year-round job – work starts

almost as soon as Carnival

finishes. “It’s like, ‘We’ve

finished. What are we doing

next year?’” says Leone with

a smile. “In July and August,

it’s all hands on deck. You

have 15 people a night at the

mas camp, all volunteers

working until the early hours.

Around 200 costumes equals

tens of thousands of gems,

hundreds of metres of fabric,

and at least 1,000 glue sticks.”

The community effort is

part of the appeal for Leone,

who has been with the mas

band for 14 years. “If you

don’t have community, it

becomes a lonely world,”

she says. “Carnival has taught

me to ‘free up’, as we call it –

not to take life too seriously.

You walk into the mas camp

and there’s music playing,

people giggling and catching

up. It doesn’t feel like work.”

In her day job, Leone

is service manager for the

Rugby Portobello Trust,

a charity that helps young

people find education and

employment. “It’s about

getting people through doors

they might not be able to

walk through themselves.

We have a creative arts

project called Amplify, which

Mangrove is attached to. We

try to get young people into

creative industries, and

Carnival is a great route in.”

Leone and her team are

making 15 ‘utopia’-themed

costumes for a catwalk show

that will be part of this year’s

digital offering. She believes

that being online will help

spread a deeper knowledge

of Carnival. “You’ll be able

to see every element for

what it is, and get a better

understanding of the history.

You couldn’t usually see it

all on foot in a day. It’ll give

people a chance to see the

bigger picture.”

THE RED BULLETIN 41


Taming the beast

During his work on the Mexican migrant trail,

photographer and graffiti artist PABLO ALLISON

has been imprisoned, robbed and held at

gunpoint. But he’s never considered quitting

Words RUTH McLEOD

Photography PABLO ALLISON

Chasing a dream: (from top, left to right) migrants risk a ride on top of a lorry en route from Oaxaca

to Veracruz; a mural painted by Allison in Shoreditch, east London; after 15 days of travelling across

southern Mexico, many board a freight train in Oaxaca; a tribute to the ‘Brave Migrants’; riding atop

The Beast’ after more than four weeks crossing central America to northern Mexico; tyres, plastic,

wood and anything else flammable is burnt for warmth at night; a graffitied message of hope; David

from Guatemala, stranded in the state of Sonora with the aim of reaching the Mexico-US border


43


“Graffiti has been

a great educator for

me. I’ve never seen

it as destructive”


Pablo Allison

Writ large: the message in Allison’s graffiti and his photography is clear – love conquers fear

GEORGE MARSHALL

I

t’s midnight, and Pablo Allison

is clinging to the top of a fastmoving

freight train as it speeds

south through the Mexican

desert. Heavy rain batters his body;

it’s freezing cold. The train shakes as it

rushes noisily on at 100kph, meaning

Allison can barely adjust his grip during

what will be a 10-hour journey, for fear

of falling off into the darkness.

Travelling illegally on this industrial

network is fraught with dangers – it’s

also common for these vast trains to

derail, or for criminal gangs to come

aboard – but it’s still the safest of the few

travel options open to migrants moving

across Mexico. And photographer and

graffiti artist Allison has been doing

these trips with them for more than

three years now, to document and better

understand the experiences of some of

the tens of thousands of migrants who

pass through the country every year

on their way to the United States.

Allison began riding these trains in 2016

with the aim of shooting the inaccessible

landscapes along Mexico’s private train

routes. “But I realised I couldn’t turn my

lens away from the migrants I met,” he

says. “I’m fascinated by the perseverance,

the strength, how people do these

extraordinarily difficult journeys. The

motivation people have to escape, to

seek a better life, is astonishing.”

Most migrants Allison meets are

escaping poverty, violence or both.

There are men, women, children, young

and old, from all sorts of backgrounds

and situations, from all over the world,

battling the odds and often treacherous

conditions to make a new life. “People

come from as far as Iraq, Syria, Iran

Bangladesh, and find themselves in

South America,” he says. “Then they

embark on a journey through various

countries, cross the notorious lawless

jungle of north-west Colombia, the

Darién Gap, and then somehow get to

Panama. Once they get to Mexico, they

still have so much to do… Those of us

living moderately comfortable lives

should learn from these people, rather

than demonising or criminalising them.”

When Allison meets The Red

Bulletin, he’s far from Mexico.

It’s a rainy February day in

Hastings on England’s south

coast, and Allison – dressed in a red

T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan

‘FUCK TRUMP’ – is in the UK to run a

workshop on migration at a street-art

event and spray-paint a wall in town

with a poem by a Guatemalan migrant

he travelled with. In recent years, Allison

has taught workshops in several countries,

in art galleries and refugee centres,

using his skills in both photography and

graffiti to reach a range of audiences.

A book of some of his photographic work

comes out later this month. But Allison

isn’t pushing a political agenda.

THE RED BULLETIN 45


“I’m always careful not to be preachy

about social or political issues,” he says.

“Everyone has an idea of what migration

means, and I don’t dictate. I show them

my experience as I’ve documented it,

and we have a conversation. This project

is primarily about me understanding the

complex reality of people who have to

escape very difficult situations. The real

objective has always been for me to

become a better person.”

Allison’s passion for this subject

started when he was young. Born in

Manchester, Allison moved with his

family to Mexico – the birthplace of his

mother – when he was three. Allison

was curious, his parents liberal. “My

mum’s only rules were that I couldn’t

take drugs or join the Nazi party,” says

Allison, now 38. So he started exploring

’90s Mexico City. “At 16 or so, I’d take

my parents’ camera and photograph

graffiti. I’d go to train yards on the

outskirts of the city to paint trains.

I’d notice people travelling on the tops

of these trains, which run between

Mexico, the US and Canada.”

Allison’s own journey has been

anything but straightforward. He’s

been imprisoned in both the UK and

the US, and held at gunpoint in Mexico

– distressing episodes that have informed

and shaped his current work. “Having

my liberty taken from me made me

realise how important being creative is,”

he says. “Art is freedom. I was free even

then, because I was able to use my head.”

Allison was first sent to prison in 2012,

a decade after returning to the UK to

discover the graffiti scene and study

documentary photography. “London’s

energy was inspiring,” he says. “Graffiti

belongs to urban environments, and I was

seriously into it. It’s the adrenalin, the

rebelliousness, the creativity, the curiosity.

Graffiti has been a great educator for me.

I’ve never seen it as destructive.”

But, in the run-up to the Olympic

Games, London police were

cleaning up. Allison was given

a 19-month jail sentence – six of

which would be served in HM Prison

Wormwood Scrubs – for tagging trains.

“I don’t see graffiti as a criminal act,”

he says. “But I always knew that

prosecution was possible. It was about

completing the sentence so I could

leave and start a new life.”

While he was inside, Allison

collaborated with his photographer

sister, Roxana, on a creative project

about the experience. He read, wrote

and drew. “I just wanted to be locked in

my cell,” he says. “I had so much to do.

I didn’t want to waste time.”

Allison says he left more serious,

more solitary and less restless. He

stopped doing graffiti. He ran a lot. He

continued to work on projects around

migration and identity, while working

several different jobs in London,

including roles at charities Amnesty

International and Action Aid. His idea

for the project in Mexico began to form.

“I realised I wanted to go back,

to apply my knowledge from those

charities,” he says. “I was very motivated

to start from scratch there.” In 2016,

he moved back to Mexico City to begin

photographing the landscapes visible

to migrants when they travel by train,

a single project he thought would be

done within a year, but which has now

morphed into two projects across three

countries, which are still ongoing,

almost four years later.

Allison soon experienced first-hand

the vulnerability of the people travelling

these routes. “One train won’t take you

from south to north,” he says. “You have

to understand the route you’re taking,

you have to get on and off. These freight

“We should celebrate migration and understand it not as

a problem but as a phenomenon. Trump’s idea that they’re

all criminals, it’s rubbish”

Brave statement: a tribute to the Migrantes Valientes. The tombstones display the names of some of the migrants’ countries of birth

46 THE RED BULLETIN


Pablo Allison

GEORGE MARSHALL

“People who embark on any journey

as a means to survive appreciate life…

they’re optimistic, resilient”

trains carry thousands of dollars’ worth

of goods to the US or Canada. Banditos

regularly steal grain, TVs, whatever. So

travelling this way is seriously risky.”

He has witnessed violence, been

robbed, and was almost killed two years

ago by a criminal gang while travelling

with two friends. “We were held at

gunpoint on a train,” Allison says. “I

prayed for my life. We were lucky to

escape alive.” Yet he was back at work

the next month, armed with his camera,

travelling on foot and by train with

a caravan of around 7,000 people.

“Somehow, you brush it aside,’ he says.

“After all, I’ve chosen to do this.”

Then, last year, Allison’s resolve was

tested again. After he was refused entry

to Canada, US agents noticed Allison

had overstayed the visa he’d been issued

to attend an exhibition in New York a few

months earlier. He was detained by US

Immigration and Customs Enforcement,

and imprisoned in Tacoma, Washington

State. “I had no idea,” says Allison. “It

was an admin error! But they locked me

up. I ended up being in jail for almost a

month – I believe because of my previous

conviction. I’d done nothing wrong,

but I was handcuffed, leg-cuffed. I wore

a prison uniform. On the way to jail,

I remember seeing these huge murals

showing great American scenes like the

Grand Canyon, which felt pretty ironic

as those were the landscapes I’d wanted

to photograph.”

Allison threw himself into his writing

and drawing. He got fellow inmates to

pose for portraits. “Again, being creative

was crucial in an environment like that,”

he says. “Imagine, you wake up in a cell

with 85 other people. You have two

widescreen TVs showing CNN all day

long in a confined environment. The

food’s terrible. You’re forced to go to

sleep at 11pm. Then all through the

night there’s noise.”

But somehow Allison also managed

to find positives thanks to the other

inmates – mostly people classed as illegal

immigrants, awaiting deportation. “We

gave each other nicknames, joked about

our situation,” he says. “I laughed so

much. It was so much therapy to me.

I realised that I didn’t need to be in

Canada, I needed to be in that prison.

That’s where the work I’ve been doing

passionately for the last few years had

to lead me, to the detention centre that

I’d heard stories about from migrants.

Before this, I’d always had the option to

opt out, to go back home. When I was

locked in that jail, I was treated like

any other prisoner. That was the first

moment I could feel like a non-privileged

person working on this topic.”

After Allison was cleared to leave, he

waited in a holding cell. “Most people in

there with me were being deported and

losing everything they had; some were

still wearing their work uniforms, others

didn’t have their own clothes so were still

wearing their prison uniform. But it was

a party. We were still locked up, but it

was a celebration of freedom.”

Although, like most, Allison

recently endured yet another

unforeseen period of lockdown

during the COVID-19 pandemic

– the time was spent in Manchester

with his sister – he’s back on the migrant

trail in Mexico again. “People always

try to escape bad conditions,” he says,

“so migration doesn’t stop.” How does

he see his projects ending? “The moment

it doesn’t stimulate me, is the moment

I’ll stop. But despite the dangers, it still

makes me feel alive.

“I’ve seen people find the strength

to move forward. People who embark

on any journey as a means to survive and

live – and maybe a bit more than that,

too – appreciate life. People are pretty

optimistic, resilient and enthusiastic.

They crack jokes. I’m fascinated by that.

We should celebrate migration and

understand it not as a problem but as a

phenomenon. Trump’s idea that they’re

all criminals, it’s rubbish. There will

always be exceptions, but all the many,

many people I’ve become friends with

are hardworking people.”

It’s this idea of positivity in the face

of hardship that inspired the name of

Allison’s forthcoming book, The Light

of the Beast. “‘The Beast’ is a name that

migrants have given the train over the

years,” he says. “It’s dangerous, and

there’s the roar of the engine. It’s like

a huge monster that people have to

jump on the back of. The light is the

hope that it represents, too.”

The Light of the Beast is out on

September 2, published by Pavement

Studio, and an exhibition of Allison’s

work will be at Make Your Mark Gallery

in Helsinki from September 2-30;

pabloallison.co.uk

THE RED BULLETIN 47


Ready

to

roll

In the historic city of Athens, these young

Greek women are reclaiming space, navigating

uncertain futures and pushing for progress.

And they’re doing it all on roller skates

Words ALEX KING Photography MARK LEAVER


Suzana Bakatsia

skates across the

battered tarmac of

the old Hellinikon

Airport on the

Athens coastline

49


CIB Athens

“A huge part of roller skating

is about reclaiming space. It’s

about feminism and being

empowered as a woman”

W hen you approach Athens’

old Hellinikon Airport, sun-bleached road signs direct

you towards Domestic Arrivals and International

Departures. But nothing has taken off here in

decades. Old planes sit eerily silent next to the

perimeter fence, and the control tower gazes out over

a runway with grass breaking through its cracks.

This afternoon, a group of female roller skaters

have found their way into the old departure lounge.

They cruise around, exploring its forgotten corners

and slaloming between its battered pillars. As the

sun begins to set over the runway outside, its rays

stream in through the dirty glass windows and

bathe them all in an otherworldly golden light.

For many of these women, skating here has always

been a dream. Some glide effortlessly around the

space, jumping and spinning, while the other

women freestyle, laughing and joking as their

wheels kick up clouds of dust.

As Athens tentatively emerges from a decade of

economic chaos, young female roller skaters are

fighting for space in their city. This generation of

Greeks grew up with few opportunities, but that

taught them a valuable lesson: if you want to follow

your passion, you have to make it happen yourself.

While support and infrastructure for young people

fell victim to Greece’s historic economic crisis,

Chicks in Bowls Athens are using roller skating to

Nothing has taken off at Athens’ Hellinikon Airport since 2001. The site

has sat empty for years, waiting to be redeveloped

50 THE RED BULLETIN


(Left to right) Stefania

Malama, Suzana

Bakatsia and Sofia

Argyraki skate through

the airport’s empty

terminal building


“Roller skating honestly

helps us get out of what is,

for most people, a really

tough reality”

52 THE RED BULLETIN


CIB Athens

Below: the crew

cruise and freestyle

around the empty

car park near

the summit of

Athens’ Mount

Lycabettus, just

before sunrise.

Opposite page:

(left to right)

Suzana Bakatsia,

Constantina Xafi

and Lydia Panagou

wait for the sunrise

on top of Lycabettus

after skating

through the night

create their own community, express themselves

and forge a new relationship with their city. Day in,

day out, they’re showing up at male-dominated

skate spots, demanding respect and inclusion.

“All skateparks here are male-dominated,

however you look at it,” says Constantina Xafi, 28.

“We all roll, and it’s OK for all of us. Whatever level

you are and whatever type of person you are, you

deserve space at the skatepark.” Xafi is one of the

group’s driving forces. She works in theatre, founded

her own screen-printing business, and volunteers as

a teacher with Free Movement Skateboarding, who

offer free skateboarding lessons to young Greeks

and refugees. Xafi is working towards her dream of

creating a skatepark full of bowls suitable for roller

skaters but open to all. However, of all the types of

rider who call skateparks home – on skateboards,

BMXs, scooters or inline skates – roller skaters are

almost always women. And building a strong

community has been game-changing.

“After I started roller skating, I began to imagine

rad girls conquering the city on their skates,”

remembers Chicks in Bowls Athens co-founder Sofia

Argyraki, 31. In January 2015, Argyraki went to skate

the now-demolished DIY BMX ramp in Vrilissia,

a town in Athens’ northern suburbs, with friends

Christina Rodopoulou and Akylina Palianopoulou.

The trio spent the best part of the afternoon

attacking the ramp together, encouraging each

other to push harder. Stoked after their high-energy

session, they created a group to encourage other

women to share their passion for ramp skating.

Today, Argyraki’s dream has come true: the group

has grown to around 30-40 female roller skaters

who link up regularly to skate their favourite parks

and explore new corners of the city together.

The ancient metropolis of Athens is no skater’s

paradise; it’s a chaotically planned and densely

packed city, scattered across many steep hills.

It’s also home to numerous potholes and

broken pavements, which are particularly hazardous

for the small urethane wheels on roller skates.

If you want to skate ramps in Athens, there aren’t

many options; the city doesn’t have lavish municipal

skateparks or an administration particularly tolerant

of DIY spots. Some suburbs have small parks, but the

best spots have been built by skaters themselves,

whether it’s the sprawling DIY park in Galatsi or

Athens’ only bowl, the experimental skate/art space

Latraac in gritty Kerameikos. But, despite less-thanfavourable

conditions, the city is home to an

increasingly vibrant community of skateboarders,

BMX riders and, most recently, roller skaters.

“It’s nice to explore the city on skates, but it’s not

ideal, not easy,” Xafi says. “Once you start hanging

out with people and skating regularly, they tell you

about new spots that are nice to skate, so you can go

and check them out and discover new places.”

Lydia Panagou, 23, who has become one of the

group’s most accomplished skaters, agrees. “The

thing I like most about roller skating is that it brings

me together with others,” she says. “We organise

meet-ups, we have our music, and we travel around

the city to our favourite spots. Each person moves

and dresses however they feel. It’s important to be

one with your skates: the style, the aesthetics, the

rhythm. That comes out when there’s a harmony and

you feel comfortable with yourself and the people

around you. Your friends encourage and uplift you.”

Panagou introduced her childhood friend Suzana

Bakatsia, 22, and the pair now skate whenever they

can. “I tried with Lydia’s skates and it was strange

and unfamiliar at first, but then I really felt a rush

of adrenalin,” Bakatsia says.

Anyone can hit up Chicks in Bowls Athens on

Instagram and join one of their regular skate sessions,

from first-time skaters to visitors keen to find a local

crew. “Having a community is really important,”

says artist and architect Foteini Korre, 29. “Many

spots are far away, which puts you off going alone.

But when we travel and skate together, we help and

support each other, and you feed off that energy.”

Before she joined, Korre had grown increasingly

intrigued by the roller-skating scene she saw

emerging in Athens and around the world, but

didn’t know how to find her way in. Eventually, she

discovered Chicks in Bowls Athens on social media.

Two years later, she looks back fondly on her first

session, outside the Athens Conservatoire, a historic

performing arts centre. Its long expanse of smooth

marble, mercifully shaded from the beating sun, is

where many Athenian skaters take their first steps

THE RED BULLETIN 53


CIB Athens

– or rolls. “I enjoyed falling over all the time and

pushing myself,” Korre says. “I loved that I was doing

new things with my body and I felt so supported by

the girls. There was a big sense of achievement.”

Skating isn’t something Korre, or the other girls

she knew, did during childhood. “My generation of

girls didn’t have the opportunity to skateboard,” she

says. “We were expected to play with dolls, or stay at

home and do chores, while our brothers played in the

streets. I started roller skating at 28, and I wish I had

the chance when I was six. It’s hard when you realise

in your twenties you want that wasted time back.”

Male-dominated skateparks aren’t unique to

Athens, of course. Around the world, huge

efforts have been made in recent years to

make skate culture more inclusive, but it

remains largely a boys’ club. “To go into that space

as a female when the majority of skaters are male

creates this automatic divide,” says Chicks in Bowls

founder Samara Buscovick, aka Lady Trample.

“Whether it’s intentional or not, there’s a feeling

that all eyes are on you. It can be really intimidating,

especially if you’re new. The majority of interactions

I’ve had in parks have actually been really positive,

but there’s still a sense that you’re an alien in their

space – you have to prove you belong.”

The sprawling concrete jungle that is the Greek capital, as seen from

the top of Mount Lycabettus

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, and now

based in Kremmling, Colorado, roller derby pro

Lady Trample was introduced to bowl skating by her

friend Michelle ‘Cutthroat’ Hayes back in November

2012. It immediately became an addiction. During a

group session a few weeks later, a friend exclaimed,

“It’s so cool to see all these chicks in bowls!” – and

the name stuck. Seven years after Trample began

building this inclusive community, Chicks in Bowls

(now CIB) has more than 300 chapters worldwide.

“One of the beautiful things about CIB is

connecting with your local chapter and not feeling

so isolated on that journey,” says Trample. “A

cultural shift has taken place; there’s now greater

representation of both females and quad skaters in

the parks – they have become safer spaces to enter.”

Yet there is work still to be done, particularly in

Greece, historically one of Europe’s most socially

conservative countries, where patriarchal attitudes

die hard. For the women of CIB Athens, there are

sometimes frustrating reminders that the city is still

playing catch-up. “Public space is mainly occupied

by men, and that’s a fact,” Korre says. “You see it on

the streets: if there’s only space on the sidewalk for

one person, a man will just walk straight and you’re

expected to move. It’s the legacy of women being

shut in their homes for so many years with no rights.

Women here were only given the vote in 1952.”

Greece’s skateparks reflect the situation in wider

society, which is moving slowly forward, but not fast

enough for many. “I know I’m far from a pro skater,

but some young men in the park have completely

disrespected me,” Korre says with a sense of

exasperation. “A huge part of roller skating is about

reclaiming space. For me, that’s political on its own

– it’s about feminism and being empowered as a

woman. Most people in the skateparks are cool,

but you sometimes have to deal with sexist and

misogynistic behaviour. The more we show up

where people skate, the more accepted we get. Now

most have started facing it that we’re here to stay.”

For the city’s young female skaters, there are so

many more reasons why having an Athens chapter

of CIB – and the community it helps to build – is so

important. “The truth is that I love Greece, I love

Athens, and I love the place where I’ve grown up,”

Panagou says. “Somehow we’ve got used to living

like this, but things are difficult for young people.”

The Greek debt crisis erupted in late 2009 and

became the worst economic disaster in European

Union history. Young people were hit particularly

hard, with youth unemployment peaking at more

than 60 per cent. After years of austerity and cuts

to spending, many of the services that young people

rely upon – schools, universities, sports facilities

– are in urgent need of repair and investment.

Politicians have announced repeatedly that the

crisis is over, yet Greek young people have seen little

improvement in their prospects. Most available jobs,

usually in tourism, are poorly paid. This leaves the

likes of Panagou, who is about to finish her degree

54 THE RED BULLETIN


Hellinikon’s dusty,

long-neglected

terminal building

is a roller-skating

playground for the

CIB Athens crew

– a place to hang

out and try out new

freestyle moves

in Art Theory and the History of Art at the Athens

School of Fine Arts, with an agonising choice: “It’s

hard for anyone my age with hopes and dreams for

the future. To find work in the arts, I’ll probably

have to go abroad. But I’d love to find something

to keep me in Greece and be part of the change.”

With its economy so dependent on tourism,

Greece is predicted to be severely affected by the

COVID-19 pandemic. This city of seemingly endless

summers has financial storm clouds circling over

it once again. While Panagou tries to focus on

finishing her studies and working out what she’ll do

next, roller skating provides a much-needed release.

“It’s not just studying – I feel stress and pressure

from the city and the rhythm in which we live,” she

says. “Roller skating helps me get away from all

that. Going out with friends to do our thing, landing

tricks, or just laughing and talking about random

stuff – it all feels good. It honestly helps us get out

of what is, for most people, a really tough reality.”

“It’s important to be

one with your skates:

the style, the

aesthetics, the rhythm”

Xafi and fellow roller skater Eva Balasi, 30,

have linked up for an evening session at the

Vyronas mini ramp, nestled in the forest

beneath Mount Hymettus. After burning

through all their energy, they’re catching their

breath at the foot of the big concrete ramp.

“Most ramps in Athens are built for skateboarders

and are tall, slippery and dangerous for quads, like

this one,” says Balasi, who broke her shin in two

places after falling here in March last year. Yet, even

with a 34cm titanium rod in her bone marrow, two

screws in her knee and two more in her ankle, the

fashion photographer couldn’t stay off her skates –

six weeks after the operation she was skating again,

despite being told to rest for six months. “Skating is

about falling,” Xafi adds, philosophically. “When you

fall, you have to get up and stand back on your feet.”

She continues, “For me, feminism is about

spreading equality; I don’t see borders in roller

skating. When you see boys and girls supporting

each other, that’s where the magic happens. There is

no need to say who does and doesn’t belong to this

place – everyone belongs to wherever the fuck they

want to belong, wherever they feel free. In Greece,

we don’t have the infrastructure or opportunities for

young people. But that’s the beauty of DIY: we have

streets and we can come together to build whatever

we want. We can be the change we want to see.”

Watch the CIB Athens crew in action in the short film

Athena Skates at redbull.com

THE RED BULLETIN 55


Beyond

fear

More people have walked on the Moon

than have visited the underwater

worlds explored by Canadian cave-diver

JILL HEINERTH. What the 55-year-old

does may be incredibly dangerous, but,

she says, it’s also life-affirming

Words ANDREAS WOLLINGER

Photography JILL HEINERTH


The deepest desert

Dan’s Cave, located deep beneath

South Abaco in the northern Bahamas,

is believed to be 350,000 years old.

The underwater cavern is of particular

interest to climate researchers, as

deposits of sand blown by the wind from

the Sahara and across the Atlantic have

been found here. By researching the

cave’s stalagmites, it’s been possible

to determine when our planet has

experienced periods of drought.

57


Jill Heinerth

Left: Heinerth at

the Wookey Hole

caves in Somerset.

The UK’s first-ever

underwater cave

dive took place

there, in the cavern

known as Swildon’s

Hole, in 1934

J ill Heinerth didn’t get

to live her childhood dream of becoming

an astronaut. Instead, the Torontonian has

dedicated her life to exploring a different

sort of alien landscape: the world of

underwater caves. Heinerth gave up her

day job as a graphic designer before she

turned 30 so she could devote all of her

time to exploring almost inaccessible and

undiscovered environments. Now 55, she

has dived the world’s longest, deepest and

narrowest caves, including an iceberg in

Antarctica – a list of achievements that will

see her inducted into the International

Scuba Diving Hall of Fame this year.

It’s incredibly risky squeezing your way

through narrow, pitch-black underwater

caves. The slightest mistake could end up

costing you the ultimate penalty – in an

average year, as many as 20 cave divers lose

their life. But Heinerth says the counter to

that risk is exhilaration. “There’s no greater

thrill than diving at a spot where no one else

has ever been,” she says. Heinerth admits

that even with years of experience she still

gets scared, “but you can’t let it take over,

or else you’ll use up too much air”.

So, how does she cope with high-risk

situations? “Take a deep breath when you

come face to face with danger,” Heinerth

says. “Then take a step-by-step approach

to what you need to do to survive.”

To read more about Heinerth’s diving projects,

visit intotheplanet.com

SUUNTO UK

58 THE RED BULLETIN


Hidden wonderland

Visiting this bizarre underwater

landscape off Bermuda requires a

special permit, as the cave has been

out of bounds for 40 years on safety

grounds. “I have always been utterly

spellbound by the beauty,” Heinerth

says. “I think this cave is one of the

most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”

THE RED BULLETIN 59


Jill Heinerth

Divine light

A ray of sunlight penetrates

the darkness of a cave in

Mexico, bringing to mind the

Mayan belief that these karst

caves were home to the gods

of the underworld. “I call this

picture from Yucatán ‘Beam

me up,’” laughs Heinerth.


Safety selfie

Heinerth tests a

rebreather – a device

that recycles the

diver’s air, enabling

longer explorations.

THE RED BULLETIN 61


Jill Heinerth

Strange brew

The waters of the Santa Fe

River in northern Florida

are stained this brownishred

colour, which resembles

tea, because of tannic acid

released by decaying

cypress trees.

63


Jill Heinerth

Tight squeeze

Moments of claustrophobia such as

this are par for the course for cave

divers. To get through them, Heinerth

says, you must “strike a balance

between fear and self-belief”.

Towing the line

Heinerth’s dive partner secures the safety line

at the entrance to the Devil’s Eye Spring in

Florida. This is the only way to ascertain where

you are, should dislodged silt suddenly reduce

visibility to zero, which is pretty common.

64 THE RED BULLETIN


Deep history

This French ship was sunk

by a German U-boat off Bell

Island, Newfoundland, in

November 1942. The wreckcum-artificial

reef is now home

to a plethora of marine life.


American underworld

The Floridan aquifer is a network of

underground channels that branch

out in all directions and provide

groundwater to 60 per cent of the

state’s population. It also has a

magnetic pull for fearless cave divers

from all over the world. This is the

entrance to the Sunshine State’s

Orange Grove Sink Spring.


Jill Heinerth

Call of the unknown

In 2000, Heinerth had an accident

in this cave – the Pit, far below the

Mexican peninsula of Yucatán –

that almost brought her career

to an end. But the Canadian says

that the thrill she gets from

diving outweighs any risk.

THE RED BULLETIN 67


PEAK

PERFORMANCE

Having started out alone in a field in rural Austria,

FABIO WIBMER now entertains millions with bike

skills that have to be seen to be believed. Here, the

25-year-old discusses the secrets of his success

Words ALEX LISETZ

Photography HANNES BERGER


NON-CONTACT SPORT

Cycling on the jetty at Austria’s Lake Hall statt is technically

forbidden. Wibmer’s solution: no touching the ground

69


Fabio Wibmer

FLIPPING THE SCRIPT

Wibmer is in complete harmony

with his environment in this

mountainous playground

Overlooked by Patscherkofel

mountain on a bright

day in rural Tyrol, just a

few kilometres from his

Innsbruck home, Fabio

Wibmer is about to start

riding. And when the

Austrian pro gets on his

bike, the world watches. Most recently,

the downhill and trials bike rider wowed

millions online with his video Home Office,

made in response to lockdown. In the

film, he transforms his house in ways that

few would imagine possible – jumping

off his roof on his bike onto a mattress

perched in a tree, netting a basketball

with his back wheel, and binning a bag

of rubbish using a homemade catapult.

Wibmer’s tricks have a sense of humour.

They’re also insanely difficult to pull off.

These sorts of unique moves are

exactly what the 25-year-old has

been training for almost all of his life.

Wibmer, it would seem, has a more vivid

imagination than most of us. And it

makes the world his playground.

“I look at the absolutely normal things

around me from a different perspective,”

the Austrian says. “I think of using them

in ways that could be a good idea. And

then I put those ideas into practice.”

Wibmer makes it sound so simple, and

for him, in some ways, it is. “You don’t

need a budget or a chic location to make

the most of your creativity,” he says.

“Sometimes you even have better ideas

when your opportunities are limited.”

Simple, maybe. But not easy.

The rider grew up in a mountain

village in East Tyrol – not the greatest

springboard to worldwide fame.

“I love Oberpeischlach,” he says, “but

there was absolutely nothing to do

there. We didn’t as much as a piece of

even ground. You could play football

for five minutes and then the ball would

roll off downhill.”

Wibmer was six when he realised

something important: a meadow and

a fallen tree can actually offer hours of

fun if you think creatively – and get

yourself the right tools. A meadow can

be a moto cross route, and a fallen tree

can be part of a trial obstacle course.

70 THE RED BULLETIN


“I look at totally

normal things

around me from

a different

perspective”


Diver

BRANCHING OUT

When planning his tricks,

Wibmer looks to other disciplines,

including skateboarding and

parkour, for inspiration


Fabio Wibmer

BALANCING ACT

In his YouTube videos, the Austrian executes tricks

that are not only audacious but also funny

“If I can do a

trick within

30 seconds,

I’m not

interested”

After a family day out at the Motocross

World Championship in southern

Austria, Wibmer and his cousin Gabriel

begged their parents to buy them mini

motocross bikes. From that moment,

his uncle’s field went from being a bad

football pitch to becoming the perfect

motocross course. And the forest at the

back of the house became an adventure

playground with endless inspiration for

daring stunts and heroic feats.

STAY CURIOUS

Fast-forward to today and Wibmer is

now his home country’s most successful

YouTuber, with more than five million

subscribers; total views of his videos

number somewhere in the hundreds of

millions. His success is, of course, down

to his ingenious skill on both trials and

downhill bikes, but the extra element is

creativity. Wibmer’s videos tell a story.

His tricks are surprising and funny. To

devise them, he says he thinks like his

six-year-old self. He examines everyday

objects from his surroundings and uses

them to create unexpected ideas.

The best example of this is Fabiolous

Escape, the video that gave Wibmer his

breakthrough five years ago. “Fabiolous

Escape was originally my entry for a

video competition where the aim was

to film a sleek line in a single take,” he

says. “I thought to myself, ‘Why not tell

THE RED BULLETIN 73


Fabio Wibmer

Wibmer’s

guide

to the

perfect

ride

1

2

3

4

5

1. POC helmet

“It’s important to buy

a quality helmet and

find one that fits you

well. I really trust in

the protection I get

from this one. If you

do have a serious

crash with a helmet,

you need to get a

replacement. I actually

haven’t been through

too many, which is

either skill or luck!”

2. Magura MT5

brakes

“Brakes are almost

the most important

part of my bike – I use

them in almost every

step I do. And when

you’re standing

somewhere 6m off

the ground, you need

to know that your

brakes won’t let you

down. If they did, it

wouldn’t end well!”

3. Canyon

bike frame

“This is the first trials

bike from Canyon –

it’s been specifically

made for my riding.

It’s a prototype, and

we’re constantly

making small changes.

I’ve been riding it

since the beginning

of this year – it’s the

bike I rode it in Home

Office. I like to have

it kind of short and

compact, with a higher

handlebar so that it’s

easier to get your front

wheel up.”

4. Crankbrothers

pedals

The pedals are where

you and your bike meet.

Having a good pedal

with a lot of grip is

really important. These

have nice pins that go

into your shoe so you

stick to your pedal and

don’t slip.”

5. Continental

tyres

“Tyres are the

connecting point

between you and the

ground, so having

a tyre with a lot of grip

and resistance can

make the difference

between crashing and

not. Danny MacAskill

developed these tyres

specifically for trials

a few years ago, and

they make a big

difference to my

riding as they’re

a little bit wider and

the grip is better.”

a story, actually, and get the whole

village involved?’”

Wibmer’s ‘escape’ from the somewhat

blundering village policemen takes him

over rooftops and dining tables, and is

peppered with front flips, drops, and

a balancing act on his handlebars. The

result: he won the competition, and the

video has now had more than 60 million

views. “I take things that everyone knows

and give them a new twist,” says the

former sports marketing student on the

success of his concept. “Like in [his 2017

video] Urban Freeride Lives, where I leap

down stairs. Anyone can imagine that

– unlike with a ramp that has dimensions

the viewer can’t gauge so easily.”

“I watch skaters

and try to repeat

their moves”

Ideas constantly pop into Wibmer’s

head when he’s out and about: “I see

a wall and think how I could ride on it

or jump over it.” On one occasion, he

was scouting for locations in the Malta

Valley in Carinthia, a region in the

Eastern Alps, when a 200m-high dam

wall with a security rail on top caught

his eye. “I saw the handrail and

thought to myself that if that thing

was only 10cm off the ground, I’d

be able to ride along it, no problem.

So then I just had to blank out the

knowledge that there was a 200m

drop next to me.”

A couple of days later, secured with

a rope, Wibmer cycled along the rail

– the width of one of his wheels – from

one end of the dam wall to the other,

with the yawning abyss just to his left.

“It was an indescribable feeling,” he

says, “especially afterwards.” Mere

mortals might want to have a can of

deodorant close at hand after watching

the YouTube video, titled Riding a Bike

on a 200m High Rail.

74 THE RED BULLETIN


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PROTECTION

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SCIENCE

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READ MORE AT POCSPORTS.COM


Fabio Wibmer

SCREW UP

But even for a rider so experienced

in creating something from nothing,

success isn’t guaranteed. Wibmer says

many of his ideas end up going nowhere,

“because in reality they didn’t turn out

like I saw them in my head. Or they end

up being totally lame, even though I’d

imagined they were ingenious”.

However, according to the Austrian,

that doesn’t matter. Part of being truly

creative is allowing for mistakes and

potential humiliation, and being prepared

to do stuff that might end up being

useless. In fact, Wibmer says, it’s often

the very ideas that seem the most

hopeless that are most worth pursuing.

There are people who give up on

a trick if they haven’t managed to pull it

off after 30 goes,” he says. “If I can do a

trick within 30 goes, I’m not interested.

It can’t have been hard enough. I’m only

excited by a trick if it takes me 200 or

300 goes to do, like in the Home Office

video where I flick a basketball into the

basket with my rear wheel.”

“Ideas and

stress don’t

mix. You have to

find what helps

you switch off”

When tenacity alone isn’t enough,

Wibmer still won’t give up. On those

occasions, he falls back on his creativity

to find a workaround that will help

bring a good idea to fruition. “Once,

when I was in the garage, a bike that I’d

turned upside down for repair caught my

eye,” he says. “I thought, ‘What would

it be like to jump onto a bike in that

position and create a mirror image?’”

His first attempts left him battered

and bruised. “Then I had the idea of

fixing the lower bike to the spot and

locking the brakes.” And the trick

worked. You can see it now in the

Home Office video, along with the

basketball sequence.

GET INSPIRED

“I’ve always been inspired by what other

people do,” says Wibmer, “and then

I’ve made it my own.” This is what made

a spring day in 2009 the most important

of Wibmer’s life. The rider, then aged

14, was searching the internet when

he happened across Inspired Bicycles,

a video by Scottish trials-bike titan

Danny MacAskill. “I knew right away

that I wanted to do something similar,”

he says.

Wibmer immediately switched his

motocross bike for a trials bike and used

MacAskill’s videos to teach himself

tricks. He began to post videos of his

progress, too, and gradually built up

a community of his own. He first met

his idol in 2012 at a Red Bull Wings

Academy workshop. “I was so nervous

I couldn’t speak,” says Wibmer. “He’s

such a big inspiration.“

They stayed in touch, and MacAskill

ended up making Wibmer an offer.

MacAskill was looking for people to

join him on a show tour, as part of his

professional street trials team, Drop and

Roll. Wibmer accepted. He’s now the

youngest member of the team of four,

who perform live across Europe, turning

fans’ heads with flips of all kinds off

ramps, down ladders and over bespoke

obstacles. It’s all a far cry from the

meadow in Oberpeischlach.

FIND SOLUTIONS

When it comes to seeking inspiration for

his next challenge, Wibmer doesn’t limit

himself to the bike community. Over the

years, he’s learned the value of looking

further afield. “I’m interested in how

other communities or sports approach

a problem,” he says. “Sometimes I

watch skateboarders and try to repeat

their moves. In Home Office, I jump off

the roof and onto a tree, then slide

down it sideways. I got that idea from

parkour videos.”

Once an idea is set, the Austrian gears

up to test it out. “Ideas and stress don’t

mix,” says Wibmer. “If you want to be

creative, you need something to help you

focus. You have to find the one thing that

helps you switch off and come into your

own.” Clearly, Wibmer has found his.

Watch Fabio Wibmer’s videos, including

Home Office, at youtube.com

76 THE RED BULLETIN


spectral:on

With its plush suspension and 150 mm of travel, the new

Spectral:ON e-MTB exists to crush technical descents and nail

fast turns. We could tell you all about the new carbon frame,

fully-integrated battery, and modern, agile geometry. But to

truly get it, you need to try it yourself. Test the Spectral:ON at

selected events this spring. We’ll let the bike do the talking.

canyon.com


ALPHATAURI.COM


VENTURE

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ROAD TO

DISCOVERY

The Tour d’Afrique

TDA GLOBAL CYCLING

79


VENTURE

Travel

“You really get to

know yourself like

never before”

Canadian PE teacher Jérôme

Blais on the four-month

11,000km Tour d’Afrique

M

y head was about to explode. Too

much sun and not enough fluids.

Everything was just dust, heat, sweat and

exhaustion. It was a brutal day. But when

I arrived at the camp, I saw it wasn’t just

me who felt that way – it looked like a field

hospital. All I could see were emaciated

faces. The doctor was running from one

tent to the other. Some of my colleagues

were lying flat with drips in their arms.

Hard to believe this was just a biking trip.

That said, it did cover the whole of Africa,

from Cairo to Cape Town, passing

through 10 countries, multiple climatic

zones and the Equator. And we were still

in Sudan, only a fifth of the way through.

Why was I doing this to myself? I had

never been to Africa, so the trip seemed

perfect, the ultimate challenge, one you’d

remember your whole life. I teach PE, so

I’m pretty fit. I’d also done several solo

bike trips around North America, each

lasting months at a time. But I wasn’t

prepared for what awaited me here.

The idea is very simple: you can cycle

the whole way – more than 11,000km in

four months (33 others just as crazy as

me also went for that option) – or join for

shorter stages. A truck transports the

equipment, tents, spare parts and food,

and we’re in the saddle, on set routes, for

between 80-200km a day. A team from

TDA Global Cycling, a company that

developed out of an NGO for used bikes,

came up with the idea. It used to be a

race. Some of the participants still see it

that way. But for most – me included –

it’s not about times but the experience.

The start of the tour, in Egypt, already felt

odd. We set off in January [2019], so our

bodies were in winter mode, but here we

were, struggling our way through 35°C in

the shade – except there wasn’t any on

the road, sadly. Plus you’re riding as part

of a military convoy. As a cyclist, you’re

an object of curiosity on Egyptian roads,

which isn’t an advantage when it comes

The heat is on: Jérôme Blais in the saddle on the 2019 Tour D’Afrique

to safety in traffic. So we were escorted

by trucks and armed soldiers. It was

a strange feeling: both oppressive and

reassuring at the same time.

Our experiences during the tour soon

made us forget those moments. We saw

the Sphinx in Egypt and cycled along the

Nile to Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel,

then into the Ethiopian Highlands, through

lonely deserts in Kenya and Namibia,

safari hotspots in Tanzania and Botswana,

and finally arrived at Table Mountain in

Cape Town. You travel much more slowly

on a bike. You really earn these places.

And the experience is so much more

intense when they’re right there in front

of you. You’re guaranteed goosebumps.

But we had to work for it. I didn’t find the

physical strain the greatest challenge –

what’s much more difficult is having no

control over your schedule. What I’m

talking about here is gastrointestinal

viruses. Everyone gets struck down,

whether you like it or not. If you’re lucky,

you’ll get hit on a day off. I wasn’t – we

were mid-stage. If I’m riding on my own,

I take a break and get well again. Luckily,

the supply truck drove me part of the way.

But we weren’t the only ones to suffer;

our equipment did, too. Sand, dust, filth,

never-ending dirt tracks – no bike can

stick that for long. I didn’t get a flat until

Malawi, more than 7,000km in, but after

I’d had 11 more I stopped counting. I had

80 THE RED BULLETIN


VENTURE

Travel

TDA GLOBAL CYCLING FLORIAN STURM

Scenic route: Blue Nile Gorge in the Ethiopian Highlands has dramatic views

Lifesaver: the supply truck carries vital

equipment, tents, spare parts and food

Crossing the

continent

Start: Cairo, Egypt

Finish: Cape Town, South Africa

Official distance: 11,222km

In existence since: 2003 (the first outing

broke the Guinness record for the fastest

crossing of Africa under one’s own steam)

Countries traversed: Egypt, Sudan,

Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi,

Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa

Areas passed through: the banks of the

Nile, the Ethiopian Highlands, Lake Malawi,

the Victoria Falls, the Kalahari Desert

Duration: 115 days (86 on the bike,

25 rest days, four travel days)

Price: US$17,400 (£13,800)

Africa

Cairo, Egypt

Cape Town, South Africa

THE RED BULLETIN 81


VENTURE

Travel

Riding out

trouble

Got a flat tyre in the

Ethiopian Highlands, but

no tools? All you need is

a shoelace and a field

1

Remove the

outer tyre and tube

from the rim

2

Tie a shoelace tightly

over and next to the spot

with the puncture. Don’t

go easy on the knots

Head for the hills: the riders pass through Kenya, almost halfway into the tour

the most problems in Namibia, as less

than 10 per cent of the road network there

is tarmac. At least I’m now an expert at

patching up holes by the side of the road.

The team spirit that comes about on a

tour like this is great. When you’re on the

bike, you may be fighting just for yourself

against the heat, the potholes, the climbs

and the headwind, but as soon as the

others see you’re in difficulty and might

even want to give up on that stage, they

urge you on until you’re pedalling again.

Some of your teammates become real

friends as you sit around the campfire in

the evenings; I’m still in touch with them.

I had to fight against exhaustion, heat

stroke, diarrhoea, and dips in motivation.

But even if the tour really took it out of

me, I never considered retiring. You really

get to know yourself like never before. I’ve

been much more relaxed and open in the

way I live since the adventure came to an

end. I’ve realised what a good life I have,

and that many of our problems aren’t

really problems at all. Pretty amazing

what a bike tour like this can do to you.

The next Tour d’Afrique runs from 15 Jan

to 8 May 2021; tdaglobalcycling.com

Stop and gape

Make a detour to visit these three marvels

City of the Dead

(Cairo, Egypt)

It is estimated that around

half a million people live here

among the graves, family

mausoleums and lavishly

decorated burial sites.

Devil’s Pool

(Livingstone, Zambia)

A natural pool (pictured)

with a stunningly good view

on the edge of Victoria Falls,

the world’s largest waterfall.

Leper Tree

(Liwonde, Malawi)

A hollowed-out baobab that

became a final resting place

for lepers, who, as recently

as the 1950s, couldn’t be

buried in Malawi.

3

Fill the outer tyre

with as much grass

or as many leaves

as you can before

replacing the tube

4

Pump up the tyre

and carefully continue

on your way until you

find a colleague with a

professional repair kit.

Items that Jérôme Blais

advises you pack for the trip:

Baby wipes

Essential to combat sweat,

sunscreen, and a lack of showers

Stretcher bed

Forget roll mats and air mattresses –

they get soaked when heavy rain hits

Clothes brush

Being able to brush the filth from

your clothes from time to time is

surprisingly re-humanising

CLICK PICTUREWORKS AFRICA LTD, ALAMY SASCHA BIERL

82 THE RED BULLETIN


VENTURE

Equipment

SKATE

Artful

dodgers

The flipside of board design

Design by US artist

Tallboy (@tallboy666),

whose work is influenced

by legendary cartoonists

Robert Crumb and

S Clay Wilson

Once, skateboards sported

designs on top. Then came grip

tape. But the art lives on below

deck. Pioneers like VC Johnson

for Powell-Peralta (‘Flame Face’

1980s reissue, top left), and Jim

Phillips, creator of Santa Cruz’s

‘Screaming Hand’ (remixed

bottom right), inspired future

generations of inkers. Clockwise

from top left: POWELL-PERALTA

Claus Grabke board, powellperalta.com;

BANZAI Speed

Seal wheels and trucks,

banzaiskate.com; SANTA CRUZ

Winkowski Dope Planet VX and

Echo Chamber Preissue boards,

santacruzskateboards.eu;

VANS Sk8-Hi shoes, vans.co.uk;

KROOKED Zip Ziiiiiiinger board,

blacksheepstore.co.uk; ARBOR

Martillo Legacy board,

arborcollective.com

The Martillo

(Spanish for

hammer) is

so-named because

of its blunt tip.

Arbor also makes

a bullet-nosed

Pistola and

a spoon-tipped

Cucharon

TIM KENT

THE RED BULLETIN 83


VENTURE

Fitness

IMPROVE

In the

mind’s eye

Most glasses enhance your eyesight.

These exercise the brain

In 2012, Carlin Isles earned

himself the tag of “rugby’s

fastest player”. The US star’s

speed is undeniable: at the

time, he could cover 20m

0.22 seconds faster than

Usain Bolt. But Isles sees it

from a different perspective

– for him, it seems the world

has slowed down. And this is

down to a technique he uses:

strobe training.

For this, athletes in

training wear stroboscopic

glasses with liquid-crystal

lenses that flicker between

transparency and opacity, as

if under a strobe light. Being

momentarily blinded might

seem counterintuitive, but it

actually exercises the senses,

forcing the brain to work

overtime to fill in the gaps in

visual information, improving

spacial awareness and

reaction times. This ‘blindness’

can be set to anything from

100ms to more than a second;

the longer the athlete is in the

dark, the greater the brain is

challenged. Studies show that

it enhances peripheral vision,

eliminates the dominance of

one eye, and helps the inner

ear track objects.

An app is used to set the duration

of the ‘blindness’ phases as well as

the difficulty level of the session

The technique can be traced

back to basketball legend

Michael Jordan’s time with

the Chicago Bulls in the ’80s

and ’90s, when he trained

under strobe lighting to adjust

to camera flashes on court.

His mind, essentially, had to

compensate for being blinded

continually during a game.

Today, this is a recognised

sports science, and US firm

Senaptec’s Strobe glasses

are used by athletes in

various disciplines, including

the US shooting team and, of

course, Isles, who wears them

for 15 minutes several

times a week. “My

hand-eye coordination

has greatly improved,”

says the 30-year-old.

“Neither the pace nor

distractions bother me.

It’s almost like the ball is

approaching in slow motion.”

senaptec.com

“Now, it’s almost like

the ball is approaching

in slow motion”

Carlin Isles, 30, rugby player

Lightning

responses

Senaptec CEO Joe

Bingold on how to

improve coordination

even without strobes

FAST TURN

“Turn your back on your

partner and stand 5m

apart. When your partner

throws, they shout, ‘Go.’

Only then do you turn and

try to catch the ball.”

UP THE ANTE

“Make the exercise more

difficult by reducing

distance, using a smaller

ball, or closing your eyes

before turning around.”

GOING SOLO

“Mask one lens of your

sunglasses or close one

eye, then try some basic

running drills.”

Quick start: prior to taking up rugby in 2012, Ohio-born Isles was a

talented track-and-field athlete with college records to his name

MARV WATSON/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, SENAPTEC.COM FLORIAN STURM TOM MACKINGER

84 THE RED BULLETIN


VENTURE

Equipment

TRAIN

The not-sodumb

bell

JaxJox KettlebellConnect

The kettlebell is one of the

earliest pieces of modern

gym equipment – ancient

societies including the

Greeks are known to have

used handled weights.

Today’s version derives

from the Russian girya,

a block of cast-iron that

was used to weigh crops in

the 18th century and was

subsequently toted by

circus strongmen. Its

design and methodology

have remained much the

same over the years: with

the centre of gravity below

the handle, exercises such

as ‘the swing’ and ‘clean

and jerk’ work the whole

body, building usable

strength. Now, this

dumbest of bells has been

given 21st-century smarts,

connecting to your phone

and loading six ‘bullet

weights’ – from 5.5kg to

19kg – from a stack in its

charging station. All of

which will prevent your

home from becoming as

cluttered as an Imperial

Russian farm. jaxjox.com

TIM KENT

THE RED BULLETIN 85


VENTURE

Equipment

LISTEN

Champion

sound

Our edit of the best

house-party tech

Virtual festivals, concerts

inside video games, a digital

carnival, professionally made

cocktails delivered direct to

your home – 2020 was the

year the house party evolved

to the next level. Though

born of unhappy necessity,

this situation has shown how

resourceful we humans can

be when looking for ways to

share good times. Society

may now be slowly emerging

into the new normal, but the

state-of-the-art house party is

here to stay. Here’s what you

need in your home set-up…

Clockwise from left:

FOCAL Aria 926 floorstanding

speakers feature cones woven

from flax for a natural sound

and tight bass; focal.com. The

NAIM Uniti Star is a complete

music centre that streams

from services such as Spotify,

wirelessly connects to your

music player via AirPlay,

Chromecast and Bluetooth,

and has a CD drive to rip tunes

or export them to the built-in

hard drive; naimaudio.com.

The PIONEER DDJ-800 pro DJ

controller has jog controls, a

mixer and performance pads

in a club-style layout, plus a

feedback reducer to prevent

microphone ‘howl’ if the

MC gets to close to the

speakers; pioneerdj.com.

The URBANISTA Brisbane

Bluetooth speaker gives 10

hours of play time; urbanista.

com. SKULLCANDY Crusher

noise-cancelling headphones

(shown in black and deep red)

offer a personalised audio

set-up via an app; skullcandy.

co.uk. URBANISTA London

wireless earphones with

active noise-cancelling allow

you to filter out ambient

noise; urbanista.com. The

PIONEER XDJ-RR all-in-one

DJ system has an LCD screen

for monitoring BPM and

waveforms; pioneerdj.com.

TIM KENT

86 THE RED BULLETIN


VENTURE

Equipment

LCD displays on the

dials of the Pioneer DDJ-

800 are customisable

to show everything from

BPMs to hot cues and

loop points

The aluminium/

magnesium tweeter at the

top of these Focal speakers

is suspended in Poron – a

memory foam that greatly

reduces sound distortion

THE RED BULLETIN 87


VENTURE

Equipment

Any decent driver’s watch

should ideally feature a

chronograph (stopwatch)

and tachymeter (numeric

bezel for calculating fuel

use, distance and speed);

some degree of motoring

heritage is a plus, too.

Crucially, it must look

great when you’re gripping

the wheel. From left:

TISSOT Alpine On Board

Automatic Chronograph,

tissotwatches.com;

BREMONT Jaguar MKII

White, bremont.com;

ZENITH Defy El Primero

21, zenith-watches.com;

ORIS Movember Edition

2019, oris.ch

WEAR

Speed

dials

Your quick guide to

identifying a good

driver’s watch

TIM KENT

88 THE RED BULLETIN


VENTURE

Equipment

PROTECT

Shades of

greatness

Sunglasses that are fun glasses

TIM KENT

From prehistoric times,

Arctic tribes have worn

slitted walrus ivory over

their eyes to block out

the sun. Emperor Nero

would watch gladiatorial

battles through cutemerald

lenses. Today’s

shades are more hightech

and easier to

obtain. Clockwise from

top: DRAGON Renew

shades with Lumalens,

dragonalliance.com;

SPECT EYEWEAR Fly

Mirrored shades,

specteyewear.com;

RAY-BAN Nomad shades,

ray-ban.com; MELON

OPTICS Layback shades,

melonoptics.com;

OAKLEY Frogskins 35th

Anniversary shades

with Prizm lenses,

oakley.com; SPEKTRUM

Anjan Black shades,

spektrumsports.com

THE RED BULLETIN 89


VENTURE

Equipment

The Razer Blade 15 is

the world’s smallest

gaming laptop – as

thin as 18mm, and just

over 2kg in weight

PLAY

Open-world

adventure

Engage in pro-level gaming on the go

Whether you’re taking part in

manoeuvres in Call of Duty:

Warzone’s fictitious city of

Verdansk or swimming around

Battle Royale Island in Fortnite,

it’s possible to traverse the

vast real world at the same

time. Clockwise from top left:

HYPERX Cloud Earbuds

gaming headphones with mic,

hyperxgaming.com; RAZER

Blade 15 gaming laptop, razer.

com; ASUS ROG Strix Impact II

mouse and ROG Ranger BP3703

modular gaming backpack,

asus.com; OMNICHARGE Omni

20+ charger, omnicharge.co;

HYPERX Cloud Flight S

wireless gaming headset,

hyperxgaming.com; NINTENDO

Switch Lite, nintendo.co.uk

TIM KENT

90 THE RED BULLETIN


VENTURE

Gaming

CONTEMPLATE

The logical

approach

Video games often help us escape

reality, but here’s one that might

enable us to see it more clearly

SONY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT MATT RAY

To say 2020 has been a tough

year is an understatement, but

video gaming has provided

some light relief, with even

the World Health Organisation

– which previously warned

against gaming addiction –

recommending it as a way of

coping with lockdown.

One of the year’s biggest

games, The Last of Us Part II,

is all about coping when

everything goes to hell. In this

survival-horror adventure,

set in a post-pandemic world,

main character Ellie must

demonstrate calm, resilience

and self-reliance – qualities

we might all learn from, and

key traits of the philosophy

known as stoicism.

The core idea is that your

wellbeing is dependent on your

mental state, your character,”

says stoic philosopher John

Sellars. Rather than worrying

about external factors beyond

your control, develop a clearer

perception of what is within

your power to affect, and take

rational actions based on this.

In short, it’s not all doom and

gloom. Here are five stoic

lessons from the game that

you can apply to your own

everyday challenges…

Don’t buy into fear

One of the enduring images

from early lockdown is of

panic-buying. The Last of Us

Part II takes this to its logical

conclusion as survivors battle

not only zombies, known as

‘the infected’, but each other.

“How much stuff were people

buying that they didn’t need?”

asks Sellars. “It’s an immediate

emotional response, rather

than one that’s been thought

Strings of life: stoicism is one of the many traits that Ellie depends upon in The Last of Us Part II

through. None of that external

stuff directly contributes to

our happiness. Slow down,

adopt a wider perspective.”

Keep calm, carry on

A common trope in postapocalyptic

games is the

resilient survivor drawing on

an internal well of courage.

This, says Sellars, is stoic.

“[Roman Emperor] Marcus

Aurelius, in his Meditations,

describes his ‘inner citadel’ –

that bit inside his control that

nothing can damage unless he

lets it in. If you judge a situation

to be terrible, it will generate

fear, and that can result in bad

judgements.” Instead, realise

that while you cannot control

the circumstances, you are

in charge of your response.

Stay positive

Pulling through seemingly

unsurvivable situations

requires optimism. “[Roman

stoic philosopher] Seneca

the Younger said, ‘Disaster is

virtue’s opportunity.’ Some

people step up, like Captain

Tom [Moore, the British WWII

Army veteran who raised £32

million for charity] and people

clapping for the NHS or

looking out for vulnerable

neighbours. In adverse

circumstances, you discover

what people are really like.

There are always positives.”

See the bigger picture

In The Last of Us Part II,

Ellie is estranged from the

protagonist of the original

John Sellars

A philosophy lecturer at Royal

Holloway, University of London, and

research fellow at King’s College

London, Sellars has written widely

on stoicism. His book Lessons in

Stoicism is out in paperback on

October 1. johnsellars.org.uk

2013 game, her father figure

Joel, which is something that

many family groups can

relate to after recent months.

Stoicism, however, views our

interconnectivity on a much

grander scale. “There’s a

concept of cosmopolitanism

– that everyone is a fellow

citizen of a single, global

community,” says Sellars.

“It downplays trivial

differences [such as tribalism

or nationality] and focuses

instead on the fact that we

are all social human beings

with shared rationality.”

Appreciate life

Unlike most video games,

The Last of Us Part II delivers

an empathetic view of death,

even of your adversaries.

“That we constantly reflect

on our own mortality is

important,” says Sellars. “Part

of that is just being realistic,

but it’s also to stress the value

of our own time. We only have

a limited amount – the more

we understand that, the better

we can prioritise the things

that are most important.”

THE RED BULLETIN 91


10 ISSUES

getredbulletin.com

£20

BEYOND THE ORDINARY

The next issue is out on Tuesday 8 September with London Evening Standard.

Also available across the UK at airports, universities, and selected supermarkets and retail stores.

Read more at theredbulletin.com

TYRONE BRADLEY/RED BULL CONTENT POOL


VENTURE

Calendar

13

August to 19 September

DRIFT MASTERS EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

The sporting calendar was sent into a spin earlier this year – but, for one returning competition,

spinning is what its athletes are relishing coming back to. Drift racing involves drivers precisely

manoeuvring around custom-built circuits by over-steering and counter-steering at speed round

the turns. Since the launch of the European Championship in 2014, the series has rapidly grown

in scale and popularity to become today’s multi-region European race schedule. These three

livestreamed weekends see the doyens of drift head to Bikernieki Circuit in Latvia (Aug 14-15),

PS Racing Center in Austria (Sep 5-6) and Mondello Park in Ireland (Sep 19-20). redbull.com

11

August to 6 September

WAVELENGTH

DRIVE-IN CINEMA

Every August, the Boardmasters

sport and music festival is staged

on the cliff-tops at Watergate Bay in

Cornwall. Following the cancellation

of this year’s event, however, the site

will instead host a series of classic

movies. There’s surfing in the line-up,

in the form of 1991’s Keanu-vs-Swayze

action epic Point Break and 1995’s

Blue Juice, as well as skate classics

Dogtown and Z-Boys and Back to the

Future. wavelengthmag.com

11

August to

9 October

BREATH IS

INVISIBLE

June 14 was the threeyear

anniversary of the

Grenfell Tower fire.

Three weeks later, the

works of artist Khadija

Saye, who died in the

fire, were exhibited

less than a mile away.

This public art project,

which aims to address

social injustice,

continues with pieces

created by artists

Martyn Ware, Zachary

Eastwood-Bloom

and Joy Gregory in

collaboration with

the local community.

236 Westbourne

Grove, London;

breathisinvisible.com

9

to 15 September

OPEN CITY

DOCUMENTARY

FESTIVAL

Last year, more than

5,000 people attended

this annual curation of

some of the best works

in documentary and

non-fiction filmmaking.

This year, the event

will be a digital edition,

with the 24 selected

films available as

video-on-demand,

including pre-recorded

Q&A sessions, and a

web-based tour of the

popular Expanded

Realities audio-visual

art installations.

opencitylondon.com

94 THE RED BULLETIN


VENTURE

Calendar

11

11

August onwards

AROUND

THE WORLD

JORDAN BUTTERS/DMEC/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, ALAMY, TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA,

DEAN TREML/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, CHRISTIAN PONDELLA/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

August to

24 January

TOYIN OJIH

ODUTOLA

Odutola is a Nigerian-

American artist whose

work – created with

drawing materials

and, most famously,

black pen ink – has

drawn acclaim for

challenging notions

of skin colour and

‘Blackness’ in society.

Her latest exhibition, A

Countervailing Theory,

is an imagined ancient

myth set in a surreal

landscape inspired by

the unique geology of

Nigeria’s Plateau State

and told in 40 drawings

created in pastel,

chalk and charcoal.

Accompanied by a

soundscape from

music producer Peter

Adjaye (aka AJ Kwame)

and a publication from

author Zadie Smith,

it was set to debut at

the Barbican in March,

but then lockdown

took effect. Now, we

can examine the work

– unfurled across the

90m gallery space of

The Curve – through

the lens of a year that

has reframed our

perceptions of society,

racial identity and

cultural mythology.

The Barbican, London;

barbican.org.uk

In recent years, the popularity

of freestyle football – the

balletic art of ball control

through tricks, dance and

acrobatics – has exploded in

popularity. This documentary

showcases the dexterous sport

in dazzling detail, following

10 freestylers from different

cultures and backgrounds as

they independently set off on

a journey that could bring

them all together at a single

destination – the Red Bull

Street Style World Final in

Miami, Florida – where only

one can claim the sport’s

most coveted title: World

Champion. It’s a tale full of

emotion, adventure and,

most important of all, epic

freestyle tricks. redbull.com

9September

THE LAST

ASCENT

Canadian Will Gadd is one

of the world’s greatest ice

climbers, but it’s a pursuit

of diminishing returns. In

2015, he scaled Mount

Kilimanjaro only to find the

ice structures he’d seen in

photographs had shrunk.

Between 1912 and 2011,

85 per cent of glacial ice on

the mountain in Tanzania

had melted, with all of it

predicted to disappear by

2020. This documentary

follows Gadd’s emotional

return to Kilimanjaro’s

peak, one made all the

more deadly by the ice’s

rapid melt. redbull.com

THE RED BULLETIN 95


Imprint

GLOBAL TEAM

THE RED

BULLETIN

WORLDWIDE

The Red Bulletin

is published in

six countries. This is

the cover of our Swiss

issue for September,

which features cyclocross

and cross-country

mountain bike rider

Lars Forster…

For more stories

beyond the ordinary,

go to: redbulletin.com

The Red Bulletin UK.

ABC certified distribution

153,505 (Jan-Dec 2019)

Editor-in-Chief

Alexander Macheck

Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Andreas Rottenschlager

Creative Director

Erik Turek

Art Directors

Kasimir Reimann (deputy CD),

Miles English, Tara Thompson

Head of Photo

Eva Kerschbaum

Deputy Head of Photo

Marion Batty

Photo Director

Rudi Übelhör

Production Editor

Marion Lukas-Wildmann

Managing Editor

Ulrich Corazza

Copy Chief

Andreas Wollinger

Design

Marion Bernert-Thomann, Martina de Carvalho-

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96 THE RED BULLETIN


PROMOTION

RAZER

SOUND OF

VICTORY

Razer’s BlackShark V2 gaming headset

gives esport gamers the edge

Players at the pinnacle of esports

are a unique animal: their reaction

times, spatial awareness and ability

to make decisions on the fly operate

at an instinctual level. Heightened

sight, touch and sound can make

the difference between victory and

defeat. This is where Razer’s latest

gaming headset, the BlackShark V2,

delivers the competitive edge.

Optimal gaming performance

starts with a lightweight stainlesssteel

headband with breathable

padding for marathon sessions.

Memory-foam ear cushions give

maximum comfort, advanced passive

noise-cancelling, and are a perfect

sound chamber for Razer’s TriForce

Titanium 50mm audio drivers.

Featuring titanium-coated

diaphragms, these drivers provide

exceptional clarity across the full

audio-frequency range – from

powerful bass to rich trebles and

a crisp high-end for clear voice

communication, all of which can be

custom-tuned. Add the immersion of

THX Spatial Sound with 7.1 Surround,

and players can pinpoint sounds

precisely around them. Controls

including volume and mic mute can

be accessed direct from the ear cup.

In team gaming, clear two-way

communication is critical. The Razer

BlackShark V2 features a HyperClear

Cardioid Microphone with lowfrequency

sensitivity to accurately

capture a player’s voice. The open

design provides superior voice pickup

while rejecting external noise. It’s

bendable to the optimal position at a

player’s mouth, and fully removable

for regular headphone use.

The Razer BlackShark V2 headset

connects to games controllers via a

standard 3.5mm jack and includes a

USB Sound Card for PCs. This audio

enhancer includes in-line controls

such as Mic Boost, Voice Gate,

Volume Normalization, Mic Equalizer

and Ambient Noise Reduction, to

carry vital commands clearly across

noisy battle arenas. These are, in

short, the only headphones that

pro gamers need to be the best.

razer.com/blackshark-v2

RAZER’S

EDGE

The BlackShark

V2 headset

delivers accurate

positional audio

thanks to Razer’s

co-development

of the THX Spatial

Audio app, which

creates a 3D

soundfield from

the two TriForce

Titanium 50mm

audio drivers.

razer.com/thxspatial-audio


Action highlight

All flip, no flop

In case you couldn’t tell, Dimitris Kyrsanidis loves the beach. “The San Blas

islands [in Panama] were one of a kind,” says the Thessaloniki-born freerunner.

This parkour project, shot on the tropical coast of central America in February

this year, was titled From the Office to the After Office. Fortunately, Kyrsanidis’

line of business doesn’t require a suit. Watch him in action at redbull.com.

The next

issue of

THE RED BULLETIN

is out on

September 8

EDUARDO VASQUEZ/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

98 THE RED BULLETIN


2020

READY TO JOIN

THE CHARGE?

OTL

The aston martin red bull racing

official teamline 2020 has LANDED.

available worldwide now at

redbullsop.com / redbullshopus.com

and in the red bull world stores in

salzburg and graz.

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