The Red Bulletin UK 06/22

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UK EDITION JUNE 2022, £3.50 SUBSCRIBE: getredbulletin.com

BEYOND THE ORDINARY

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DIVING HIGHER

World champion cliff-diver GARY HUNT on his soaring ambition to capture the sport’s most coveted prize

KING OF KRUMP Street dance’s fiercest freestyler SARAY KHUMALO Her mountaineering mission to transform lives WILD RIDE A spin through BMX’s craziest underground years




TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN. Thank you to everyone who’s supported us throughout the years, from the shops to the riders, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for YOU!

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Editor’s letter

CONTRIBUTORS THIS ISSUE

CELINE TEO-BLOCKEY

“I thought we were going to tell a story about dancing,” the Singapore-born, LAbased music journalist and host of the Under the Radar podcast says of her profile of Darren ‘Outrage’ King. “But a different one emerged. We landed with a piece that speaks to Rage’s own unique experience, and his passion to empower others.” Page 46

MATTHEW STERNE

RICK GUEST (COVER)

The Cape Town-based photojournalist, travel blog editor (Conquer the Cape) and writer of our Zanzibar kayaking travel story recently published Sterne Journeys, a collection detailing his adventures, from the Andes to the Himalayas. “Nothing beats travelling by your own steam across a striking landscape imbued with mysticism,” he says. “Our kayaking trip had that sense of real exploration.” Page 75

DIVE TO SURVIVE World champion cliff-diver Gary Hunt has a trick when facing that terrifying 27m drop. As our cover star reveals (page 36), he breathes once – in, out – and dives. It clearly works – he has won the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series nine times – but in truth, the motivation to make that leap was always inside him. Like the other stars of this issue, Hunt possesses that rare clarity to recognise his destiny, and to reach for it. Saray Khumalo (page 66) is the first Black woman from Africa to summit Everest. But the mountain, she says, was never the objective – it was just a stepping stone to her true goal of helping future generations of young Black Africans. Through her music, Palestinian DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi (page 32) wants to show the world her homeland’s passion for life. Disabled explorer Martin Hewitt (page 30) is forging a path for adaptive adventurers everywhere, and street dancer Darren ‘Outrage’ King (page 46) is tearing up the rulebook to evolve his art form. Then there’s a generation of BMXers who kept the flame burning during their hobby’s lost years and transformed it into the sport it is today. One of them, Mark Noble (page 56), caught it all on film. Breathe once and dive in. Enjoy the issue.

US photographer Atiba Jefferson shoots Darren ‘Outrage’ King in Santa Monica, California, for this issue’s profile of the dancer. Page 46 THE RED BULLETIN

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CONTENTS June 2022

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Ride on time: a 360 flip back to the underground years of UK BMX. Pictured: King of Concrete in Southsea, 1989

12 Gallery: highlights from global

photography competition Red Bull Illume, including a smokin’ cylinder in Cape Town, a dust devil in British Columbia, wild waveforms in the Philippines, and a heroic fall in Utah, USA

19 Two good: songs that helped

shape the musical journey of French Afro-Cuban twins Ibeyi

20 Bird and breakfast: Biosphere,

a unique hotel room where not just the pillows are feathered 22 Ekow Nimako: the artist whose

breathtaking Afrocentric Lego sculptures come in any colour – as long as it’s Black

MARK NOBLE

25 Skate of the art: F51, Folkestone’s new high-rise pleasure palace for boarders and BMXers 26 Islabikes: how the British bike

company is promoting inclusivity in the cycling world

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28 L ucy Cooke

The zoologist dismantling malebiased takes on the animal ‘kingdom’

30 M artin Hewitt

Disability is no obstacle for the pacesetting British polar explorer

32 Sama’ Abdulhadi

The techno DJ bringing the party to Palestine, and Palestine to the world

75 Oar inspiring: with its challenging

paddling and its soul-soothing vistas, the island of Zanzibar is the ultimate kayaker’s playground 80 Running is more than about

exercise; it’s about family and community. Having the best kit? That’s a bonus 91 BFR: the training regime that

doesn’t go with the flow

36 G ary Hunt

93 Want to master Gran Turismo 7?

46 D arren ‘Outrage’ King

98 Outdoors wisdom from Semi-Rad

From Leeds to La Tour Eiffel: the cliff-diving legend on crossing the Channel and hunting Olympic glory

Think like a pro, says Formula 4 trailblazer Mira Erda 95 Essential dates for your calendar

California’s krump ambassador talks freedom, style and freestyle

56 M ark Noble

The golden years of BMX, through the lens of a rider who lived them

66 S aray Khumalo

Meet the pioneering female South African climber who really is doing it for the kids 11



CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Pipe dream

WAYNE REICHE/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

DAVYDD CHONG

BMXers view the world differently from the rest of us. If we saw a big pipe, we might think, “Oh, a big pipe.” But as photographer/ rider Wayne Reiche explains, “[BMXer Murray Loubser and I] spotted this full pipe at the harbour and got excited. We thought we’d have to sneak in a session, but after talking to a worker we found out they were cutting it up and didn’t mind us riding it. It was tight, but Murray got really comfortable clocking in nice and high.” The shot won Reiche a semifinal spot in Red Bull Illume. waynereiche.com

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BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

Dry run When local photographer Lindsay Donovan and dirt-bike rider Steve Shannon drove out to Columbia Basin on this hot spring day, the window of opportunity for shooting was limited. For this image – a Red Bull Illume semifinalist – Donovan needed textured, track-free ground, and after a few hours of wandering the parched mudflats she found it. Within weeks, this area would be filled with runoff mountain water and serve as a reservoir. Thankfully, no lifeboat rescue was needed that day. lindsaydonovan.com


SIARGAO ISLAND, PHILIPPINES

Clear shot

LINDSAY DONOVAN/RED BULL ILLUME, MATT POWER/RED BULL ILLUME

DAVYDD CHONG

You won’t find it in their kit bag, but patience is a vital tool for a photographer. Without it, this shot by Philippinesbased lensman Matt Power wouldn’t exist. “I was waiting for all the elements to align: sunset, clean swell, clear water and a talented surfer,” he says of the image, which won a place in the Red Bull Illume final. “The spot was busy that evening, so the surfer is unknown to me, which I feel adds to the mystical nature of the shot. It’s a dramatic, ethereal image I’ll cherish for ever.” mattpowerphoto.com

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INDIAN CREEK, UTAH, USA

Fall guy It’s not instantly apparent what US climber Jake Talley is up to here. Is it witchcraft? Or some Road Runner-style levitation? Neither, says photographer Will Saunders; it was a heroic fall. “I asked Jake to shape his body into more of a powerful movement than the classic falling position,” says Saunders. “With grace and style, he pulled this shape out of the air, allowing me to capture an image that’s unique compared to most literal climbing imagery. His body reminded me of a superhero, which is fitting as most of my friends in this action-sports world are my heroes.” Talking of superhuman feats, the Utah-based snapper pulled off his own: this shot beat more than 41,000 other entries to take top prize in Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021. willsaundersphoto.com


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WILL SAUNDERS/RED BULL ILLUME

DAVYDD CHONG


5 YEARS OF UCI DH. 104 PODIUMS. 28 WINS. 7 CHAMPIONSHIPS. 3 WORLD CUP TITLES. TRUST THE NUMBERS.


IBEYI

Twin peaks The sister act pick four favourite tunes that helped shape their unique style When French Afro-Cuban twins Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz, 27 – aka Ibeyi – released their eponymous debut album in 2015, music magazines praised its sparse electronic sound, which blends Yoruba chants, Cuban jazz and Björk-like vocal gymnastics. A tribute to their deceased father, legendary percussionist Angá Diaz, Ibeyi also won a fan in Beyoncé, who cast the sisters in the short film for her Lemonade album. Their third album, Spell 31, is a plea for empathy and understanding that taps into the power of nature. Here are four songs that inspired Ibeyi on their journey… facebook.com/Ibeyi

SULEIKA MULLER

MARCEL ANDERS

Scan this QR code to hear our Playlist podcast with Ibeyi on Spotify

Angá Diaz

Rosalía

Meshell Ndegeocello

Kendrick Lamar

Rezos (2006)

Saoko (2022)

HOC (2010)

Lisa-Kaindé: “This is a genius song from our dad, where he recites the names of all the musicians who helped him throughout his life and who have passed on. For the track Los Muertos on our new album, we sampled his voice – so now he’s doing it with us, basically. We recite his name, his parents’, our sister’s, and also the names of musicians like Prince who helped us throughout our life.”

Naomi: “Rosalía actually wrote this song a long time ago, but it finally got released earlier this year. I think she is one of the best – she’s absolutely amazing. We’ve been following her since the beginning of her career, and it’s amazing how she mixes flamenco with pop music. It’s brilliant. This song is a mix of reggaeton and jazz, which I love, and I think it’s done really well.”

Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (2012)

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L-K: “This song is particularly dear to my heart because I’ve been a fan of Meshell since I was a teenager, and I’ve learned so much by listening to her music. Also, I discovered the song through Nina Simone [who originally recorded it], and she’s my goddess. So it’s kind of my two goddesses working together, because this song from Nina is being sung by Meshell. It’s perfect!”

N: “This tune [from the rapper’s fourth solo mixtape, 2010’s Overly Dedicated] is a great one, but honestly I could have chosen any song by Kendrick Lamar. I’m a huge fan and I think he’s absolutely amazing. He changed music as we know it, he really did. I’m in awe, you know? Would he be someone that we would want to work with? Oh yeah! Whenever he wants, we’re there. [Laughs.]” 19


Home to roost Enjoy being woken by the dawn chorus? Here’s a hotel room that guarantees it – and educates you in wildlife preservation at the same time

To say that the Biosphere at Sweden’s Treehotel offers guests a bird’s-eye view of their surroundings is an understatement. Sitting high among the pine trees in a forest near Harads in Swedish Lapland, this glass-walled hotel room immerses you in the private lives of its winged locals, thanks to the 340 wooden bird boxes that cover its exterior. Designed by Danish architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group with help from the Norrbotten Ornithological Association (NOA), Biosphere was conceived to give visitors a rare insight into avian behaviour while also boosting the decreasing bird population of the forest. 20

Wing seat: it’s heaven for bird lovers

“Deforestation has reduced the number of natural holes in trees where breeding birds nest, so the installation of [human-made] bird nests is important,” explains NOA chairman Ulf Öhman. “Also, climate change has led to the insect boom [a vital source of food for newborn chicks] happening earlier in the year. By the time the birds’ eggs hatch, the boom has passed. Feeding is an important support mechanism for the birds that stay in Northern Sweden during winter.”

Biosphere, which is suspended in the trees and accessed via a bridge, was constructed from organic materials specifically chosen to blend in with the forest and attract wildlife. Its split-level layout includes a living space and an elevated area for sleeping and birdwatching. The room’s transparent walls are entirely surrounded by bird boxes of various sizes, but if guests feel the desire to escape the flutter of wings for a few minutes, there’s a box-free roof terrace offering a more relaxing forest view. The creators of this unusual holiday retreat hope that the experience will educate and inspire guests to get closer to nature after their short stay, and to look after the natural habitat around their own home. “Demonstrating the use of bird nesting and feeding – not just at treetops but for people to install near their homes – is valuable,” says Öhman. “[This] initiative at Treehotel may inspire visitors to do the same.” treehotel.se THE RED BULLETIN

BIG BJARKE INGELS GROUP

BIOSPHERE

LOU BOYD

Biosphere: looks like a Habitat lampshade, sounds like an avian 18-30 holiday



Lego is made for building. This artist is using it to construct a richly detailed Black universe and a brighter future for representation in art

The turtles are life-sized, if not exactly true to life. The children floating above them are free and unrestrained by gravity, their wings and headdresses suggesting something mythical. This isn’t a scene from a fantasy film, but a tangible Afrofuturist sculpture by Ghanaian-Canadian artist 22

Ekow Nimako. And like the majority of his work, it’s built entirely from black Lego bricks – thousands of them. “The Great Turtle Race depicts two children riding on mythical sea turtles,” explains Nimako, 43. “There’s something so important about the preservation of childhood innocence – for Black children, in particular – because a lot of their cultural experiences get played out in systemic racism.” Nimako grew up in Montreal in the ’80s and ’90s and later worked as a multidisciplinary artist, writing, drawing, making music and sculpting. Then, in 2012, he found his medium: the little plastic building blocks he’d played with as a kid. “I look

at Lego as the most versatile medium in the world,” he says of his decision to work with the Danish-made toy bricks. “There’s a very fundamental relationship I have with it. It’s the material that I had the most experience – and the most dexterity – with.” By building with Lego, Nimako hopes to prompt viewers to look more closely at a familiar material and see it in a new way. Why black bricks? The answer is threefold. Nimako explains that black is probably the only colour in which every Lego brick is available – vital when he’s searching for just the right piece. Second, black is just a cool colour. Third – and most THE RED BULLETIN

JANIK LAURENT, SAM ENGELKING

Reconstructing Blackness

TOM WARD

EKOW NIMAKO


Opposite page: Ekow Nimako and The Great Turtle Race. Left, from top: Kadeesa (Griffyx Cub); Anansi; Simis. Above right: Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE THE RED BULLETIN

important of all – black bricks represent Blackness. “I didn’t see a lot of me in the things I consumed [as a child],” says Nimako in a video created in partnership with Lego. “That disparity has a tremendous effect on one’s identity.” Addressing this imbalance, and what he calls a Eurocentric view of art, was therefore vital. Nimako’s series Building Black: Civilisations draws inspiration from medieval subSaharan West Africa and adds mythical components to both “mystify but also demystify this particular region and place in time”, the artist explains. The centrepiece, Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE, is a richly detailed, nine-sq-m cityscape constructed from

more than 100,000 pieces. Each sculpture takes between 50 and 800 hours to complete, says Nimako, and as his ambition grows, so does the scale. But is it art or just playing? Nimako’s stance is firm. “I have a need to build that everyone who’s into Lego shares,” he says. “Beyond that, there are many factors that go into claiming artistry, including the thought process behind the work and displaying it in an artistic context. In my work, there’s an idea being communicated that isn’t typically apparent in hobbyist building. The art industry as a whole will be impressed pretty soon when they hear about my art on a larger scale.” ekownimako.com 23


Photos: Ben Matthews

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F51

Riding high

MATT ROWE

LOU BOYD

More than the world’s first skatepark mall, this could be a blueprint for the town centre of tomorrow Once upon a time, inviting skateboarders to congregate in your town centre would have been unheard of. Throughout the ’90s, skaters were portrayed as delinquent teens and exiled to out-of-town industrial parks and empty playgrounds. Fast forward to 2022 and perceptions have changed: skateboarding is not only accepted as a legitimate extracurricular activity but it’s in the Olympics. Now, the seaside town of Folkestone, Kent, has placed the sport right at its heart by creating the world’s very first multistorey skatepark. Built on the site of a disused bingo hall that was once fated to become a car park, Folkestone 51 (F51) is a three-storey centre purpose-designed for skaters and BMXers, but also housing a climbing wall (pictured right) and an Olympic-sized boxing ring. F51 was commissioned by a charitable trust set up by local millionaire philanthropist Sir Roger De Haan, and designed by architectural consultancy Hollaway Studio in partnership with specialist skatepark builders. The hope is that the Folkestone project will spark a trend of regenerating towns with the younger population in mind. “It’s about regaining the use of the town,” says local resident and lifelong skater Alex Frost, project officer for The Sports Trust, the charity that runs F51. “Typically, you hit an age in Folkestone and try THE RED BULLETIN

to leave. The idea of F51 is that it encourages young people to stay because there are exciting opportunities going on in their own hometown.” Opened in April this year, F51’s three levels feature 2,100sq-m of skateable surfaces, including a streetskate room with obstacles inspired by urban furniture, and a flow room featuring wall rides and skateable pillars (pictured right). On the first floor is a world-first ‘floating’ bowl park where two suspended

concrete skate bowls have been hung from pillars, with their undersides visible to passers-by on the street. “You can see on each level how it’s catering to every type of rider,” says Frost, “whether it’s their first time skating one of the solo ramps upstairs, or doing something incredibly gnarly in one of the big concrete bowls.” As an incentive for the young people of Folkestone to get on a skateboard and drop into a bowl, F51 is working with local schools to offer a £1-permonth membership to all school-aged visitors. “When I was a kid, skateboarding was something parents thought they should be scared of,” says Frost. “They were worried about the crowds their kids were mixing with. But I never had any issues with other skaters – we’re the nicest people. Through spaces like F51, we’re starting to see skaters as we should do – as an important part of the future of our towns.” f51.co.uk 25


Breaking the cycle Imagine being unable to find a bike suited to you. For people with disproportionate dwarfism, that has always been a reality. Until now For the past 16 years, Islabikes has been known primarily for one thing: making high-quality kids’ bicycles. The Shropshirebased company was founded by triple British cyclocross champion Isla Rowntree after she spotted a gap in the market for cool-looking, ergonomically crafted frames for children. As its bikes became more popular, however, the firm began to receive requests from another group of cyclists: adults with dwarfism, asking to try out the kids’ frames for their own use. “We were happy to accommodate,” says managing director Tim Goodall, “but it didn’t feel right, and we quickly realised that it was a problem we could solve.” So Islabikes drew on its expertise in bike design and 26

set about creating a frame specifically for people with disproportionate dwarfism, or achondroplasia. “The bike industry, collectively, has done a really good job of catering to a very narrow segment of society, because that’s where the most money is made,” says Goodall. “If you’re between 5ft 6in and 6ft 1in [1.67 to 1.85m], you can go to almost any bike shop or online store and find a bike for gravel, road, mountain biking, cyclocross, you name it. If you’re outside that range, whether short or tall or heavy, there’s less choice. And then there are people with dwarfism, who have no choice at all.”

THE RED BULLETIN

LOU BOYD

ISLABIKES

To help correct this, Islabikes contacted the sporting organisation Dwarf Sports Association (DSAuk) for the input and insight of its members, including DSAuk ambassador Steve Scott (pictured left). “They were very interested in getting our involvement at the coalface, so to speak,” says Scott, who worked closely with Islabikes during the design process. “I’m not an engineer at all, but I love cycling and I know that if you’re disproportionate, your knees bend in a slightly different way because of lateral movement. And there’s also reaching for the brake… our hands are a bit shorter, so that needed to be tweaked.” The result, the Joni (pictured below), is a hybrid bike with swept-back handlebars, shorter cranks, and brakes designed for smaller fingers. The biggest change that Scott consulted on was the bike’s body shape – an ultra-low, U-shaped, step-over design for easy foot clearance when getting on and off. “I still can’t get used to it – we can step onto the bike,” says Scott. “With a traditional bike with a crossbar, my kids and I jump on. We don’t have to with this bike, which is brilliant.” Available in two models – with 20in or 24in wheels – the Joni is, to the company’s knowledge, the world’s first mass-produced bike for those with achondroplasia. It’s a development that Scott says will make a huge difference to many people’s lifestyles. “I personally believe cycling revolutionises how dwarf people get about,” he says. “If you and I were friends or neighbours, I couldn’t go jogging with you – I wouldn’t get very far and it’s not good for my joints. But we could cycle together. If we went out for a Sunday afternoon cycle, we could go together on the same course.” islabikes.com


Sticky situations. Not usually something high on the wish list and not usually something you want to find yourself in, with just one exception that is. When it comes to MTB shoes, a sticky situation is precisely what you’re after, it’s what you dream of, it’s the goal, the very aim of the game. A non-sticky situation is at best a pedal slip, at worst it’s painfully gouging a chunk of flesh out of your calf or losing a race. Not good, not what you wanted at all. Step forward, pun intended, the all-new Endura MTB Footwear Collection. Crammed to the gills with technology and innovation to make your pedal stroke smoother, stiffer and more comfortable, with better power transfer and crucially a super durable sole made of glue… Ok, it’s not made of glue, but it’s as sticky as hell… which is precisely why we named it Stickyfoot™ Stick or Twist?

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Lucy Cooke

Meet the zoologist rewriting the book on animal behaviour and exposing how patriarchal biology has underestimated the female of every species Words LOU BOYD

Lucy Cooke is on a mission to debunk our out-of-date narratives on sex and gender in the animal kingdom. A zoologist, wildlife expert, awardwinning TV producer, presenter and author, Cooke spent her early adult life studying the theories of Charles Darwin, learning under Richard Dawkins, and obsessing over the work of David Attenborough. But when she went into the field herself, Cooke had a shocking realisation: much of what those male naturalhistory heavyweights had written about female behaviour was wrong. In her new book, Bitch, she dismantles male-focused scientific bias and explains the real behaviour of female animals, discovering that – from post-copulation cannibalism in spiders to matricide in meerkats – they’re not as gentle, docile and maternal as we’ve been taught. “Being female has never been more scrutinised or politicised than it is right now,” says Cooke. “I thought it was an interesting time to see what the animal kingdom has to tell us.” the red bulletin: What sparked your interest in writing about binary sex roles? lucy cooke: At Oxford, I studied evolutionary biology under Richard Dawkins. I was especially interested in Darwin’s theory of sexual selection to explain mating behaviour, and why he saw the sexes as so different. Sexual selection accounts for the craziest things in the animal world: the peacock’s tail, the proboscis monkey’s nose, the antlers of a stag. I was fascinated, but I also found

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it dispiriting, because it portrays males as promiscuous, aggressive, the drivers of evolution, and females as bit-part players. It didn’t speak to me, this idea that we’re meant to be passive, monogamous, submissive. The book questions accepted ideas on mating, monogamy, and more… It was important to illustrate that it’s natural for female animals to be as aggressive and sexualised as males. I was recently in Costa Rica chasing capuchins, a species where males are dominant. We now know that when the females are in heat, they do ‘alpha gurgling’ – a sex dance while drooling, to get the males’ attention. Females are anything but subtle. What most surprised you when researching Bitch? It challenged my own biases and preconceptions. Males and females are more alike than they’re different – we’re made from the same genes, hormones and brains. [Scientists] have spent 50 years looking for significant differences between male and female brains and they can’t find them. We persist in the belief we’re different, and that’s the root of all inequality. By reassessing what we know about animals, could we rethink our beliefs on human sex? It’s popular in evolutionary psychology to draw conclusions about ourselves based on Darwinian thinking, but we must be careful. Many anthropologists argue, based on chimpanzees, that we’re an inherently war-like species, destined to be male-dominated. But recently we discovered that we share the

You talk about sex as a spectrum… Obviously you can define biological sex by whether you produce eggs or sperm, but the manifestation of sex is very complicated. How do you define a female? You might think by chromosomes, but it’s not that straightforward. Bearded dragons in Australia have genetic sex determination, but this is overridden by environmental sex determination. Many animals change sex. Take the clownfish. In the movie Finding Nemo, he’s a little male fish who loses his mum and goes off on an adventure before reuniting with his dad. In real life, if his mum was eaten, his dad would turn into his mum and start having sex with him. A less Disney-like story, perhaps. How can science begin to question more misconceptions like those in your book? Diversity is key, not just of men and women but all genders and cultures. Darwin’s stereotypes were confuted by some incredible feminist biologists in America who were the first women to benefit from an egalitarian education and could challenge the scientific patriarchy by viewing the world from their perspective. Science is based on questions, and naturally we ask about what we’re interested in. It’s exciting to remove our biased goggles and look at the extraordinary diversity of life in the natural world. Bitch: A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution and the Female Animal is out now; penguin.co.uk

THE RED BULLETIN

LUCY COOKE

Animal queendom

same amount of DNA with bonobos as we do with chimpanzees. They could equally be a model for human ancestry, and bonobos are peaceful and matriarchal. The females form a sisterhood, which means males can’t dominate them. Interestingly, the way the females bond is through sex – they’ve overthrown the patriarchy through ecstatic same-sex practice. They’ve even evolved [so that] the clitoris is better positioned for pleasure from same-sex sexual activity than from the opposite sex. There’s a lesson there about how patriarchy isn’t burnt into our DNA. It’s not necessarily our destiny.


“Growing up, galleries didn’t feel like spaces for me”

“The animal world shows us patriarchy isn’t burnt into our DNA” THE RED BULLETIN

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Martin Hewitt

The adaptive explorer He’s the first disabled person to reach the South Pole, but for this former soldier it’s all about bringing everyone along, whatever their capabilities Words TOM WARD

Photography JOSIAS DEIN

“Antarctica is brutal and beautiful at the same time,” says Martin Hewitt, tired but upbeat. “We only got back to Chile a couple of days ago. There, we saw darkness and a sunset for the first time in two months.” It’s January 21, 2022. A week earlier, the British military veteran and explorer (along with former Army officer Lou Rudd) completed a 50-day, unsupported voyage to the South Pole, skiing 644km, followed by a three-day climb of Antarctica’s highest mountain, Mount Vinson (4,892m). The journey was all the more challenging for Hewitt, who lost his right arm in 2007 after being shot in Afghanistan while serving in the Paras. “I was devastated,” he says of the injury. “When I got shot, I was 26 and doing well in my career [he was a captain]. Learning to do everything with my left hand was tough, but the greater challenge was that I’d just lost the job I loved.” Far from being a hindrance, his injury provided a stimulating new life path. Using mountaineering and ski-instructing skills learned during his youth, Widnes-born Hewitt became captain of the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team and represented Britain in several Paralympic World Championship events. He also launched Adaptive Grand Slam (AGS), a foundation that facilitates physical challenges for the disabled community, and in 2011 he led a team of wounded servicemen on an unsupported trek to the North Pole, joined by Prince Harry as patron of the Walking With The Wounded charity.

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“When adventuring, you can be as well prepared as possible, but nature has the final say,” says Hewitt, “That dynamic is appealing to me.” He’s now leading an AGS attempt to be the first disabled team to reach both Poles and the highest mountains on each continent: the Explorers’ Grand Slam. Their success in Antarctica means they can now tick off the Poles and six of the seven summits. Only New Guinea’s Puncak Jaya stands between Hewitt and his goal. the red bulletin: What was each day like out there in Antarctica? martin hewitt: We had no time to be anything but task-focused. We’d get up for breakfast at 6.45am, then prepare for the day. With my arm, certain things take longer, so we divided up tasks based on what was easier [for each person] to do. Then we’d set out, with the person in front keeping our bearings in 90-minute shifts. We left Union Glacier [base camp] on November 17. The distance to the Pole was 720 miles [1,160km]. We broke it up into degrees, each of which was 60 nautical miles [110km], and averaged a degree every four days, so 15 nautical miles per day. You were injured on the trip. What happened? You get these [terrain] features called sastrugi – mounds of snow blown by the wind. For more than 200 miles, we had to get over all of them while pulling a 108kg sledge. We carried all the food and fuel ourselves, and the whole load was on my left-hand side, so I had Achilles tendonitis building for three weeks, with constant pain down my left leg. After 350 miles, I couldn’t stand on it any

more. We had to get to the Pole by January 6, to catch the last flight back to Union Glacier to climb Mount Vinson, so we didn’t have time to rest my Achilles and finish everything. We decided to go back to Union Glacier, get medical attention for 10 days, then re-deploy around 65 miles from the Pole. We ended up doing more than 400 miles.” It’s clearly a huge physical challenge. What about mentally? Lou described it as a journey into your own mind. You think about things you’ve done in the past; things you haven’t done but want to. I thought about changes I wanted to make to my life when I got back. I’d brought music and audio books, but my headphones stopped working within the first week because of the cold, and that had a negative impact on my moral. I was having massive food cravings, visualising things I’d eaten. But after two weeks that all goes and you’re in the zone, focusing on what you have to do that day. What surprised you most? There’s a lot of infrastructure at the South Pole – a big US base, space research stations, satellites. You could see it from 13 miles away, and as the weather was clear we had a good view the entire last day. When we arrived at the Pole, I had this huge sense of relief that I’d made it; this feeling of gratitude that I’d had the opportunity. Then we did Mount Vinson in three days. It’s more of a trek than a climb, but it’s very cold; a lot of people get frostbite. It’s one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever climbed. What’s next for Adaptive Grand Slam and for you personally? I want to get more disabled people involved in adventuring, and to organise more challenges for them, whether it’s UK hill-walking weekends or our annual Alps challenge. It’s about building confidence and getting people with disabilities out there. As for me, I fancy something in the Yukon – out in the real wilderness again. adaptivegrandslam.com

THE RED BULLETIN


Martin Hewitt (left) with Lou Rudd on Mount Vinson in January this year

THE RED BULLETIN

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Sama’ Abdulhadi

Palestine’s ‘queen of techno’ is on a mission to export the beauty of her homeland to the world, one beat at a time Words LOU BOYD

When Sama’ Abdulhadi took to the decks in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in 2018 for her Boiler Room debut, she had no idea she was about to play a life-changing set. By the end of those 58 minutes, Abdulhadi had been transformed from a small but respected DJ into a techno sensation. Attracting almost 10 million views, the video became one of the most watched in Boiler Room’s history, and her music quickly spread across the globe. Abdulhadi, a leading voice in Palestine’s underground dance music scene, is the first DJ/producer from the state to gain international recognition. She initially took up DJing on the encouragement of her father, before leaving Ramallah – Palestine’s de facto capital – for Beirut. From there, she moved to London, then Cairo, then Paris, all the time evolving her beat-heavy spin on Berlin techno with influences picked up on her travels. Another of Abdulhadi’s online sets gained international attention in 2020, but for more controversial reasons. During a streamed private event for electronic music platform Beatport at Maqam Nabi Musa, a cultural complex in the West Bank, religious conservatives entered and ordered her to stop playing on the holy site. Abdulhadi’s life was threatened and, although she had all the necessary permits to perform, she was arrested by Palestinian officials and jailed. It was only after the submission of a petition bearing 100,000 signatures that Abdulhadi was released, eight days later. “People got really angry,” she says. Here, she tells us about finding a community in Ramallah’s party 32

scene, handling the pressure that comes with international success, and how she’s using techno to share her home with the world and put Palestine on the musical map. the red bulletin: You’ve lived in many different places – where does your music feel most at home? sama’ abdulhadi: I change my music depending on the country. If I’m in Berlin, it’ll be a completely different set to the one I’ll play at home. It might have the same tracks, but you’ll hear the way I play them differently because I know the crowd is different. The music I play is Berlin techno, so it always works there, but Lebanon and Palestine are my favourite crowds. As the first world-famous DJ to come from Palestine, do you feel any kind of pressure to represent your home? There are so many different layers to being Palestinian, and a lot of pressure on me to represent all those stories. I can speak for myself and a small section of Palestinians, but I can’t speak for the people in Gaza or Jerusalem. It’s an honour to be one of the few people who can be listened to, because we’ve never had anybody in the music industry to speak for us. I hope the community on this side of the world grows so that it won’t just be me who has to represent everybody. DJs aren’t usually expected to have a degree in geopolitics… Exactly. And the questions people ask me are really hard. I didn’t expect to have to be completely knowledgeable about world politics

You’ve been referred to as ‘the DJ who brought techno to Palestine’. How do you feel about that label? Well, I did bring the genre here – and the tracks – but I didn’t make the first successful party. I tried to make techno parties work here and I failed! There are other people who made the scene happen. It was a collective effort – it was built by those people and by all the people who were willing to take a bus from Haifa [in northern Israel] to Ramallah, to come out to dance to this music. Now, the parties have people from all different cities and I’ll always come back and play. You’ve formed a party collective, Union. Tell us about that… I wanted to create a safe space, a home and a hub, so I contacted my DJ friends across Palestine and said, ‘Let’s make a collective.’ It’s open to anyone who wants to be a part of it, even if they’re not DJs. Members can be stage designers, people who do graffiti, who like to build light systems… they can even come to just help set up. Everyone will work all the jobs at a party. For example, I’ll DJ for two hours, then I’m at the door selling tickets for an hour, then in the bathrooms for an hour. It means that everybody gets two hours of dancing and two hours DJing. Nobody cares if we make money – and whatever we do make from it, we split. Where do you usually hold your parties? We take over different venues. We actually bring our own things from our homes to [furnish] the place: people bring their couch, their lamps, their rugs, to be part of the design of a party, and then they’ll pack it all up and take it back. There’s a real family vibe, and everybody has a vote on what we THE RED BULLETIN

JACOB KHRIST

Turning the tables

and [its terminology]. But now all I read is politics and history, so whatever question I get from some random fan in a club somewhere in the world, I have the right words to say. I feel that if I didn’t have those words, I’d be reflecting badly on six million people in Palestine.


“I never thought I’d have to be an expert on politics, too” THE RED BULLETIN

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Sama’ Abdulhadi

the government said that they had nothing to do with it – but they were the ones who’d given me the permit. It was the first fully legal party I’ve done, ever! Normally they would come and shut down a party but they’d never imprison us. However, [this time] it became a publicopinion case. I still have a little bit of PTSD from it. The court case hasn’t happened yet, so it isn’t over. The people in the country didn’t get their closure, but I didn’t get mine either. I’m still not doing parties right now, out of respect. Do you think the situation was handled fairly? I guess they had to listen to the public. They could have just said they were sorry for giving me a permit. But they didn’t and it went into some dark places. You’ve described techno as a healthy ritual for you. Is it still a safe space? Yes. To be honest, it’s my therapist and I’m so happy that I do it more now. It can feel pretty serious before a big gig, but there’s a switch when I get on stage and press play. Everything disappears and I’m just there with the crowd and the speaker. I love that feeling.

do. We took over an abandoned kitchen in a restaurant and turned it into a makeshift club where you had the lights going through the room, with the DJ booth on the stove. Then we packed it away until we did it again the month after. It was a crazy underground party, but it worked for a really long time without getting shut down. But throwing a party hasn’t always been so easy – can you 34

explain the circumstances that led to your arrest at Maqam Nabi Musa in 2020? For some people it’s one of the holy sites. The government should have known it was a non-permit location, but they’ve been trying to make it more of a tourist attraction, so they’d been giving out permits. A lot of different [events] had happened at that location already, but with mine people noticed and the public went crazy about it. That’s when

What do you have planned for the near future? Well, I’ve always wanted to create a festival in Palestine. I’ve always thought that if we could get a lot of big DJs to play here and loads of foreigners to come and see the country, it might make a difference. It could even change the world’s perspective a little. Follow Sama’ Abdulhadi on Instagram (@samaabdulhadiofficial) and on Soundcloud: @sama_saad THE RED BULLETIN

TRISTIAN HOLLINGSWORTH

“There are so many different layers to being Palestinian”

Can you remember the first time you felt it? It was an early time when I was playing in Ramallah. That’s always been a space I’m really comfortable in – even if I do make a mistake, nobody’s mad at me. The first time I played Fusion Festival in Germany I felt like I was having a panic attack the whole time, but now that festival just feels like my home.



HIGHER CALLING

Cliff diver GARY HUNT is on top of the world. The nine-time world champion is undisputed in his sport. But as he aims for high-diving glory at the 2024 Olympics, he needs to raise his game further still Words PIERRE-HENRI CAMY

Photography RICK GUEST


The sky’s the limit: Gary Hunt, photographed for The Red Bulletin in Paris in March this year

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Technological leap: to capture these ‘tracer’ shots of Hunt’s movement, photographer Rick Guest combined a high-speed flash with long exposure. “The strobe fires when he jumps,” says Guest. “And the number of flashes recorded is controlled by manually opening and closing the shutter. Electrickery…”


Gary Hunt

“For me, diving is like asking your body to do a puzzle”

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ored. That’s how Gary Hunt feels. It’s 1993, he’s nine years old, and he’s doing non-stop lengths during swimming lessons at his local pool in Leeds. And it’s no fun. Every now and then, he wants to stop, take a break, and chat with a friend before continuing. But that isn’t possible. He has to swim. Where he really wants to be is up there – on the stairs leading to the diving boards. Up there, the boys are talking and joking and doing extraordinary things. Gary Hunt was never going to settle for a life of drudgery, stripped of pleasure and filled with work stress. He saw his father – who would later pass away when Gary was only 18 – spend too much time struggling with the pressures of his job at British Telecom, gaining little fulfilment while the office at home overflowed with files. Having moved from London (Gary’s birthplace) to Leeds for the sake of his dad’s career, Gary and his older sisters Carolyn and Jeannette – all of whom did gymnastics, ballet and tap-dancing – were looked after by their mother. She’d had several jobs in the past, including time as a nurse for the British Army. She’d served in Yemen and came close to losing her life there: during an attack on the city of Aden a grenade exploded at a spot where she’d stood just seconds earlier.

THE RED BULLETIN

In person, Hunt is one of the most laid-back guys you could hope to encounter. “I don’t seek out excitement or try to scare myself,” he tells The Red Bulletin at a terrace bar in Montreuil, a district in the eastern suburbs of Paris. “I like to do relaxed things where you’re not thinking of anything else – DIY, gardening, even cross-stitch.” To anyone glancing at the 38-year-old on their way to work or the Metro station, this might not seem especially surprising. But then, his 1.75m-tall, lean and athletic 68kg frame is concealed beneath a jacket and trousers rather than the work attire he’s more famous for: those legendary Speedos. Hunt is an elite sports diver – one of only a handful capable of launching themselves off an aerial platform at least 20m high, performing insane twists and somersaults at a downward velocity of 85kph, before entering water seconds later in a way that, if impacted incorrectly, would feel as hard as concrete. The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series – the competition launched in 2009 and held annually at locations around the globe – has made this intense and spectacular sport hugely popular. Hunt has competed since its inception, winning nine of the 12 championships to date. He’s also made his mark as one of the most creative and popular divers, known to perform somersaults on the 27m-high platform where an average person wouldn’t even 39


Gary Hunt

the European Championships, Commonwealth Games and other grand prix events. One day, while in his twenties, Hunt received a phone call. It was from a company of performers who featured high diving in their show; they wanted to know if he’d be interested in deputising for the legendary Canadian-Australian stunt diver Steve Black, who was injured. So, in 2006, Hunt joined Black at the Italian seaside town of Jesolo, where he was initiated into high diving as part of a pirate-themed show. The height just kept rising: three metres, eight, 14, 20… “The thing that freaks you out at the beginning isn’t really the height when you’re on the diving platform,” notes Hunt. “It’s climbing up to it on the tiny ladder. When you head up to the 10m board at a swimming pool, it’s on a nice wide set of steps. This was something else.” Then there’s the platform itself – 30cm by 40cm in size. “Just enough room for your feet,” says Hunt. “Climbing onto that thing for the first time was horrible. The platform was moving. My brain was asking, ‘What’s going on here?’ You think of the worst thing that could happen. Eventually, you’re OK and you go for it.”

Spanish fly: Hunt leaps off La Salve Bridge in Bilbao, Spain, during the 2018 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

dare lie down. “Some of the divers are hyperconcentrated, but I’ve always played the relaxed guy,” says Hunt. “Fake it until you make it.”

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efore traversing the planet to nosedive from its highest cliffs and diving platforms, he first had to try the one-metre board at that dreary swimming pool in Leeds. Disinterested in paddling any more lengths, the nine-year-old Hunt asked if he could attempt diving. His parents acquiesced and soon he gave up swimming entirely, devoting himself to diving full-time. His gymnastics skills prove invaluable. When Hunt was 16, his parents separated. While his father stayed in Leeds, Hunt moved to Southampton with his mother and sisters. His diving progressed ever upwards, rising now to a height of 10m. Hunt worked out a list of dives he needed to master to push even higher. “For me, diving is like asking your body to do a puzzle,” he explains. “I always loved solving problems at school and doing puzzles at home. I would even ask my sisters to let me do their maths homework.” Mission accomplished, at 18 years of age he earned a place on the British National Diving Team, competing at

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“Climbing onto that platform for the first time was horrible” THE RED BULLETIN

DEAN TREML/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

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unt was immediately drawn to the energy within this troupe. They juggled, played music, drank around a campfire; there were French people, Bulgarians, Russians. At this stage Hunt was still a classic diver, but he joined another company, Sokol, for a series of shows at the Walygator fairground in Maizières-lès-Metz, France. It wasn’t all diving – he did a puppet show, dance performances and acted, too. At drama school in Leeds, Hunt had once played the role of a karatekicking granny in Little Red Riding Hood, but this time he’d be Tarzan. At first, you wouldn’t see him in the crowd, then someone would throw a custard pie in his face and he’d leap up in hot pursuit, climbing that narrow ladder before performing an extreme dive to close the show, rendering the audience speechless. Where there’s Tarzan, there’s also Jane. In this case, that was Sabine, a French member of the troupe. She and Hunt quickly hit it off, and when they next met in Paris, Sabine “missed her train”. They became inseparable. In 2010, Gary moved to France and found a place to train at the Maurice Thorez watersports stadium in Paris. By this point, Hunt had been competing in Red Bull Cliff Diving for a year. He was now hooked –


“It’s not unknown for your legs to tremble… your body doesn’t want you to do the dive”



Gary Hunt

“Some divers are hyper-concentrated; I’ve always played the relaxed guy” 27m above the water and the crowds, he felt at home, and he was near unbeatable. He won the international competition consecutively in 2010, 2011 and 2012, then again in 2014, 2015 and 2016. High diving and the name Gary Hunt soon became inseparable; the media made him the face of the sport. And then he lost it. In Chile in 2017, during the final round of that year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, one ascent made Hunt question whether he had a future in the sport. “I lost it on my last dive and did one spin too many,” he recalls. In diving parlance, to ‘lose it’ means to be in the middle of the action, where the risk is highest, and lose track of where you are in your intended combination of moves. On this occasion Hunt got away with it, but from there on the game had changed. “That winter was horrible. I kept losing it during training. It got to a stage where I was wondering if it was worth continuing high diving at all.” Faced with doubt and a determination to rediscover himself, Hunt needed to go back to basics. He did dives without spins from the 5m and 10m boards. He cut no corners and put in extreme hours. It paid off: in 2018, he won the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Then he did it again in 2019, and in 2021. The boss was back.

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rench astronaut Thomas Pesquet once noted that when taking a first spacewalk, there are a few minutes where an astronaut’s brain simply stops them from making any movement; the instinct to not launch oneself, harness or not, into the infinite void is overwhelming. High diving draws a similar reaction. “It’s not unknown for your legs to tremble before a dive because your body doesn’t want to do it,” says Hunt. But after training without a coach for many years, Hunt the problem solver devised his own solution to this puzzle. “Before diving, I’d raise my arms, count to three and jump,” he explains. “Sometimes, though, I’d count to two and have to restart. It got to a stage where I couldn’t just count once and dive.” Hunt realised he needed a more elegant solution, so instead he learned to breathe. Here’s the procedure. Positioning yourself on the edge of the platform, raise your arms, breathe in, breathe out (just once!) and dive. “At that moment, when you can’t go back, you’re much more confident,” says Hunt. “It’s a very nice moment, very Zen. All your doubts evaporate and your body knows what

THE RED BULLETIN

Pont Hunt: the cliff-diving legend takes it to the bridge in the French capital. Insert your own in-Seine joke here

it has to do.” Then, muscle memory kicks in and Hunt spins on instinct; three seconds and 27 metres later, he nails the entry into the water. One more crucial tip: at the moment of entry, position your hands tightly by your body, otherwise your private parts might pay the price. “It’s like being sliced in the balls,” says Hunt with a laugh. For this reason, he adds, some men prefer to wear two pairs of Speedos. It was Hui Tong, a Chinese coach, that taught Hunt the breathing trick. Hui worked with the French diving team, and Hunt – as a guest at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP) on the outskirts of Paris – had trained alongside them since 2014. During this time, the divers grew fond of the Brit, so when Hunt gained French citizenship in 2018, he was formally made a part of the team. And with an adopted home came a new goal: representing France in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. Coaches came and went, but one in particular was less than encouraging. When Hunt mentioned wanting to take part in the 10m diving event at the 2024 Olympics, he felt he didn’t have their support. “He said I was too old,” Hunt says. “I knew he was 43


Gary Hunt

Still life: spectators at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston study Hunt’s form at the 2013 competition

watching me dive in training, but when I came back to the surface he pretended to be busy doing something else.” Hunt felt he had hit a wall.

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unt had come up against obstacles in the past and been undeterred. In 2013, while still representing Great Britain, he’d had a chance to compete in the inaugural high-diving event at the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, but British Swimming wasn’t interested in supporting him as the sport didn’t feature at the Olympics. “I arrived at the high-diving world championships wearing a plain T-shirt that I’d written ‘England’ on,” he recalls. That year, he left with the silver medal, and at the 2015 and 2019 World Aquatics Championships he took gold. After the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, changes to the French team introduced an ally in the form of Clémence Monnery, an elite diver who’d risen through the ranks of the national diving team framework to become the French coach. Hunt already knew her as a coach to the juniors at INSEP, and Monnery had taken time out of her schedule there to guide him. Where the British team couldn’t have cared less about high diving, and previous

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French coaches weren’t exactly enthusiastic, Monnery was a supporter. “High diving is on the rise,” she explains. “More professionals are getting involved.” In December 2021, she travelled with Hunt to a high-diving competition in Abu Dhabi. While Monnery herself has never been a high diver – her fields are the 1m and 3m springboard – she believes Hunt has what it takes to represent France at the Olympics, in either solo or synchronised competition. She cites his numerous high-diving world titles and his “crazy mental strength”. Monnery notes, “He isn’t a typical diver and doesn’t train like everyone else, due to his age. But he knows what he wants. When Gary pulls something off in training, he doesn’t need to do it multiple times. He’s able to reproduce it in competition.” She sees Hunt’s presence in her squad as invaluable. “He’s a force in the team and he’s respected, mainly for his success in Red Bull Cliff Diving. He is extraordinary.” Hunt is grateful to have Monnery in his corner. “Clémence wants me to succeed,” he says, simply. “Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have needed her to motivate me. With her by my side, I want to dive.” This is a positive feedback loop that runs through the whole French team. “I support the young divers and I think they appreciate my experience,” Hunt says. “I tell them that some of the things they probably think aren’t important could help them progress if they get them down. It’s like me and my list of dives. Take a breath and go for it.” Even better, he can show them. And, poetically, this June provides the perfect opportunity for Hunt to do just that as the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series comes to Paris for the first time. In the heart of the French capital, overlooked by the Eiffel Tower, the 27m diving platform will be erected on the banks of the Seine, and Hunt will defend his world championship title for the 10th time, diving into its waters in front of thousands of spectators. “I will do what I always do – try to be my best self, but not for the sake of beating the others,” he says. “That’s the way I see competition. It’s to provide Parisians, my family and friends with the best show possible.” And with that, he bids us farewell for now, returning to the nearby Maurice Thorez centre to train alongside his sporting family in the city he calls home. Gary Hunt is where he wants to be. Happy. The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series comes to Paris on June 18. Watch the live stream on Red Bull TV; redbull.com THE RED BULLETIN

ROMINA AMATO/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

“I support the young divers, and I think they value my experience”


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Street stance: Darren King, photographed for The Red Bulletin in Santa Monica in January this year


KRUMP KING

For more than a decade, dancer DARREN ‘OUTRAGE’ KING has crushed krump competitions around the world, but these days he’s focused on helping this energetic art form evolve – and sharing its principles with a new generation Words CELINE TEO-BLOCKEY

Photography ATIBA JEFFERSON 47


Darren ‘Outrage’ King

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t’s a warm winter’s day at the beach in Southern California so, in no time at all, professional dancer Darren ‘Outrage’ King has peeled off his jacket, emblazoned with the words ‘Death By Style’. His arms are taut after 15 years as a streetstyle practitioner. In the two years since the pandemic hit and freestyle battles ground to a halt, King has taken up boxing and Muay Thai to keep his mind occupied and his body fit. Onlookers may not realise they’re witnessing a world-class master of his discipline, krump – a form of hip-hop dance known for its highly energetic, expressive and aggressive movements. Under the watchful eyes of a photo crew, King now moves his outstretched arms over his head and his feet slide back together with a subtle lock. The sand underfoot makes a frightful sound in protest, but the coarse grains are no match for his smooth control. Beneath the canopy of an impossibly blue sky, he slows down, repeats and then speeds up this motion several times for the camera, as if someone hit the forward/rewind button on an old VHS remote. The Drake song Fair Trade wafts through the warm air as King chestpops and crouches like a seasoned pugilist to this vibey strain of hip hop. This moment of calm abruptly ends when a neon-coloured bicycle approaches with a blaring boombox. The music is ear-splitting, distorting the bass and rendering whatever song 48

it’s blasting barely audible. As he pedals along, the rider yells out a merry greeting at us. King breaks momentarily from his krump pose and cracks a smile. “I love that,” he laughs. The 32-year-old is relishing everything about this moment in the sun. King – or Rage as he’s more widely known to his friends and competitors – grew up in Southern California, so trips to the beach used to be a common occurrence, but about a year ago he bought a townhouse with his girlfriend and moved to Las Vegas. These days he’s more landlocked. It’s been three years since King’s last big dance battle and maybe more since he felt that out-of-body experience – the elusive high that dancers at his level of competition will chase. Psychologists refer to this as the flow state – when you’re so immersed in an activity that everything else just dissipates and you reach a heightened state of enjoyment. For competitors, this is the moment when the pressure falls away, allowing them to perform better. Artists can access a level of creativity close to godliness.

I was like, ‘I got to change things up.’ So I broke the mould”

rump emerged from the gritty streets of South Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. The style was born partly in reaction to gangsta rap, a genre of music known for recounting – and glorifying – the violent lifestyle of its performers. At the time, cities such as Compton and Inglewood struggled with the impact of guns, violence and poverty. Credited to South LA residents Ceasare ‘Tight Eyez’ Willis and Jo’Artis ‘Big Mijo’ Ratti, krump was invented in the early 2000s as a more aggressive form of clowning – an energetic dance created by Thomas ‘Tommy the Clown’ Johnson, who would perform at children’s birthday parties in LA. Both styles precipitated a desire to get youth off the streets and prevent them from falling into gangs. The name krump is sometimes capitalised and used as an acronym, meaning Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise. In one of his instructional videos, Tight Eyez proclaims, “There is only one creator of krump and that is God.” But krump also taps into a deeper spirituality for the African diaspora. In the 2005 documentary Rize, filmmaker David LaChapelle compares the face markings on krumpers to African tribal markings and demonstrates their various similarities through jump cuts between dancers in urban settings and African warriors in sub-Saharan backdrops. Both groups stomp, chest-pop and make jerky but controlled arm swings – like warriors in battle – suggesting a deep-rooted kinship that crosses oceans and time. The popularity of Rize helped bring this lively but largely unknown street dance into the mainstream. Soon there were krumpers appearing in music videos with Madonna and Missy Elliott. Lil’ C, one of the krumpers featured in Rize, became a judge on the reality show So You Think You Can Dance. In less than a decade, krump caught on around the world and became codified as a legitimate art form like other aspects of hip hop, dance and street culture. Even if the word krump isn’t part of your vernacular, you’ve probably experienced elements of it in popular culture, whether it was watching dance competition shows or HBO’s Lovecraft Country, which brought the dance to life with nightmarish results in episode eight. In it, two characters walk knock-kneed with popping shoulder movements and arm gestures that are common in krump. THE RED BULLETIN


“Krump gives voice to a lot of people who feel like they don’t have a voice”


Mover and shaker: King teaches his own unique dance style that mixes krump and hip hop


Darren ‘Outrage’ King

The racial aspects of krump’s roots are undeniable. Black practitioners around the world have tapped into the history of slavery and oppression that’s folded into the dance. The flow state for them is sometimes a transgenerational communion with their ancestors. For King, krump was something he did just for fun, at least in the beginning. The first time he encountered this particular flavour of expressive dance, he was in the eighth grade and attending a performing arts school in San Diego. “I was at a suburban strip mall one day and there was a bunch of kids gathered there,” he recalls. There was such a commotion he naturally thought a fight must have broken out. “Usually when you have a large gathering of people of colour like that, there’ll be police or security, but this was my first experience of being outside with a large group and not having any police break things up.” As King walked towards the crowd, he heard music and then saw other kids performing these energetic dance moves. “They had loudspeakers and were playing hip hop,” he says. “I didn’t know what it was called.” It turns out they were clowning. As someone who had always enjoyed mimicking dance routines he saw on TV, King’s interest was piqued. When he was very young, King loved watching James Brown concert videos with his grandfather. “I noticed that James Brown would do these dance breaks the way bands do guitar solos,” he explains. “[Brown] would take two minutes from his singing just to do a dance solo. James Brown, Ginuwine, all those cats – I would try to imitate them.” But the first move King perfected was Michael Jackson’s moonwalk; the Smooth Criminal video was a personal favourite. “It kept me so intrigued,” he says, spellbound by the choreography, Jackson’s facial expressions, the narrative arc of the nine-minute video and, of course, the moonwalk. “I liked Thriller, too,” he chuckles, “but I was also a little scared of it.” King would often get up and perform these moves at block parties and family gatherings in San Diego. A natural performer, he noticed early on that he liked the attention. “When my aunties would ask me to dance, I was never scared to get out there,” he says. “And even back then, I felt like I would do what the song wanted me to do.” His musical tastes were already eclectic in middle school, where he performed THE RED BULLETIN

“My parents couldn’t see the sense in it. Even we didn’t know what it was”

in plays, sang in a choir and played bass guitar. “I was fortunate to go to a performing arts school with a bunch of different cultures,” King says, “so at that time I was listening to [rock and pop bands] Hawthorne Heights, Panic! at the Disco, Queen, Disturbed and System of a Down on one side; then on the other it was like Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes and Nas.” The genre separation appears black and white, but King straddled the divide. “I think I got the best of both cultures being able to listen to and understand rock ’n’ roll, punk, emo and then hardcore hip hop, ’80s-style boom bap, the current boom bap and then radio hip-hop.” All of this would play into his dance style later.

K

ing enjoyed a stable – though not stationary – childhood with younger twin sisters. His mother was a probation officer and his father was in the military, so the family moved around a lot. King was born in Kansas, and when he was four they all moved to Germany, followed by a stint in Washington, before landing in Southern California. The constant relocating made it difficult for him to foster strong bonds and lasting friendships. By the time King reached high school, he and his family were living in Riverside, California. One day he noticed some dancers at school. “I was doing sports at

the time – basketball and football – and it was cool and all, but here you had girls and guys doing it,” he says. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is for everybody.’” There was also a multicultural aspect that attracted him: “Black, white, Asian, Mexican were doing it as well. And they were all just as dope. I wanted to dance and be in that limelight.” King was inspired by how people were taking and giving back to the culture. “It’s an amazing kind of energy that I’ve never experienced doing anything else,” he says with a smile. Not long after, he quit his position as wide receiver in his high-school football team. “The chance of being a professional football player was so slim anyway,” he says, only half-joking, aware that the odds of being a professional freestyle dancer were virtually non-existent at the time. But everyone around him loved what he was doing. “It attracted people you never would have thought of: cool kids, football players, cheerleaders – people you wouldn’t think were even into dance. The teachers loved it. Parents, too.” His own parents, however, were confounded. “They couldn’t see the sense in it,” he laughs. “I mean, even we didn’t know what we were doing. There’s probably zero money in this, but we loved it.” King had no idea what would come of it, but he secretly hoped there might be some kind of a career for him in dance. “I’m going to do whatever I want – nobody can tell me,” he says, his playful tone turning serious. “I have no problems listening, and I got to take everything into consideration. But I was keen on this.” After graduating from high school, King took part in battles around Southern California. “It was just for respect, you know, for the streets,” he says, but in 2010 he formally entered How the West Was Won, a professional dance contest, where he competed in its first-ever krump category – and won. After the show, he was offered an all-expenses-paid trip overseas: “‘We want to bring this to Japan,’ they told me. They wanted me to teach my style of krump there. When I told my parents, they didn’t believe it was a thing.” By 2012, krump wasn’t as big as other street-dance styles, but there was a steady stream of informal gatherings that were creative, cathartic, and vital to the local scene. The 818 Session, held every Wednesday night at a strip-mall parking lot in North Hollywood, was legendary. OG krumpers like Lil’ C and Big Mijo took turns performing inside a circle. “It was 51


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Darren ‘Outrage’ King

super-sick,” King says, though he admits he was more interested in seeing his friends and peers battle at these sessions. They would stay out all night dancing. At these sessions, krump was often a physical manifestation of the frustration and anger the dancers were feeling in that moment. King explains that if someone had a bad day, you could see it in their dance in creative ways. It was a form of release that made them feel better. As a result, it was always evolving. Today, anyone can learn the basics of krump by watching YouTube or scrolling through social media, but back then you had to pull up in your car and be there. “Nobody had really good cameras for YouTube,” King says. “If you wanted to be a part of the scene, you had to show up. It was all word of mouth. People weren’t teaching classes. If you missed one week, the style would have changed the next week. You had to be there and be present. If you weren’t, you were behind.” During this period he formed a friendship with Marquisa Gardner, aka Miss Prissy, a classically trained ballerina and one of the krumpers featured in Rize. “If there was anyone who had noticed my style of dancing as a hybrid and gave me the chance to shine, it was Miss Prissy. At that time, she had just finished doing the music videos with Madonna [2005’s Hung Up and Sorry], so she was taking krump and giving it a different platform.” He remembers going to Miss Prissy’s house and staying for days or sometimes weeks just to be around her and observe how she carved out a career in dance. She became a mentor for many dancers trying to forge a similar path. “She didn’t take everybody, but if she liked you, she would take you under her wing,” says King, who is still friends with her today. “She definitely paved the way for a lot of people in the game. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

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t’s been quite the rollercoaster ride for King over the past decade, travelling the world as an ambassador of sorts for Team Krump. As fun and rewarding as it’s been, like any job it hasn’t been without its challenges. He mentions how ego and testosterone can fuel so much of the battling culture. The judges’ decisions can be so arbitrary. He talks of feeling dejected and questioning why he was constantly pushing his body to breaking point. There was also the pressure of going overseas and being expected to bring the

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Krumping his style: King has taken the leap into fashion with his own label

goods to local dance communities. And, of course, in battles there’s always a loser. “It is gambling,” King says of battle culture. “You got to put $20 in and hope you hit the jackpot. If you don’t, you’re going home super-broke.” About five years ago, while judging a krump competition in Las Vegas, King found himself bored. The dance moves seemed tired, but, worse still, he says that “everyone looked the same, dressed the same, had the same facial expressions and danced to the same tracks”. When he surveyed the room, everybody else looked equally disinterested. “I don’t want to look like that,” says King. “I don’t want to look like I’m in here because someone told me how to be.” And that’s when he had an epiphany. “I’m like, ‘I got to change it up. I feel like I’m getting spoon-fed the same thing over and over,’” he says. “So I broke that mould.” After he’d finished judging that day, he

“I don’t look at krump as an escape any more. It’s a presence, a feeling, an energy”

vowed to do things differently during his own battle later that evening. Tired of constantly having people “shove foundation down my throat and talk of what the style needs to look like”, King threw out the rule book and freestyled his entire krump battle. He engaged with the audience, looked them in the eye, trash-talked at them – and everyone sat up and paid attention. It was the most fun and free he’d ever felt dancing. And that’s how he’s been doing it ever since. After that breakthrough moment, King went on to win more than a dozen competitions between 2017 and 2018. “From then until the pandemic hit, I was everywhere,” he says. “So many battles. I was just being me. I was travelling overseas, winning battles and teaching.” He spent months in Korea and Japan and made several trips to Europe. And he was regularly attending dance sessions and gatherings in LA. King was no longer as concerned about winning; he just wanted to have a good time dancing. He says he learned more from the battles he lost than the ones he won. His girlfriend of three years, Jaylene Mendoza, who’s also a dancer, nudged him to promote himself more on social media and try out for different things like commercials and TV shows. He did a bunch of music videos, appeared in ad campaigns for Gap and Puma, and even had a stint on 53


Darren ‘Outrage’ King

Shape shifter: King encourages his students to channel their personality

the Netflix show Dear White People, alongside Mendoza. The couple played a pair of dancers in the final season and still receive royalty cheques. “I don’t mean to make it about the money, but it matters,” King says. Still, he has a soft spot for freestyle battles. So when he was picked as a wildcard for the 2021 Red Bull Dance Your Style World Final in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December, he was thrilled. After more than 80 qualifying events around the globe, the final would feature battles between the world’s best street dancers, and King saw this as a culmination of everything he’d been doing up to that point. But then the World Final was cancelled due to public health concerns and international travel restrictions, and King missed out on the chance to feel that feeling again – that higher state of consciousness. “Plus, it [Africa] is the motherland,” he says. “I’ve never been, so just to be there and get a taste of that cultural essence would have been phenomenal.” Trying not to sound too disappointed, he adds, “But I know that when it does happen, it will be 10 times bigger.” 54

L

ike everyone else, those involved in dance have found the past few years particularly tough. But King is enjoying his new home in Las Vegas. It’s a change of scenery, and with the lower cost of living it’s also less stressful. He’s excited about launching a new collection for his own clothing brand, Death By Style. His parents, who initially couldn’t understand why he’d moved to Nevada, have been visiting and have warmed to it. More importantly, the dance scene there is young, and King feels he can help develop it. Three times a week, King teaches at The Rock Center for Dance – Nevada’s premier training studio for adults and kids – but he claims he’s the one who’s learning how to do pirouettes from the little ballerinas in his class. He regrets not having studied ballet or jazz when he

“Everybody dances from a different place”

was younger. It wasn’t an issue of money – he feels sure his mother would have obliged him – but rather that he was never open to the idea. When King teaches his fluid style of krump and hip hop – which he feels can simply be classified under the umbrella of ‘dance’ – he is never didactic. He wants his students to be open, to trust their instincts, learn to improvise and put their own personality into the steps he teaches them. “Everyone dances from a different place,” he says, acknowledging that people each have their own body type, strengths, and reasons for wanting to dance. “At the end of the day, you don’t want robots or textbook dancers. You want people who understand the feeling.” And he remembers how he came to krump when it was in the midst of breaking from clowning. “Clowning still has a special place in my heart, but evolution is inevitable,” King says. “Either you stay back or you evolve with it.” Go down the YouTube rabbit hole and you’ll uncover tons of krump how-to videos, where many people posture that “krump is life”. When this is mentioned, King shakes his head, dismissing the hyperbole, then says quietly, “I think life is life. Life is what you make it.” To him, krump has afforded a certain freedom, a way of life, enduring friendships, a larger global community. But, he says, the key is “being able to do and say what you mean in a truthful and artistic way”. “Obviously some people have had it harder than others, and for them it was an escape from reality, I get that,” he continues, referring to those in the scene who’ve struggled with oppression. “Krump gives voice to a lot of people who feel like they don’t have a voice. It gives light to people who feel like they could never have light. Krump used to be an escape for me, but I don’t look at it as an escape any more. It’s a presence. It’s a feeling. It’s an energy.” King falls silent, reaching to find a way to describe something that began as a way to hang out with friends but evolved into something deeper for him as an adult. He wants to share all this knowledge with a younger generation because of its potential for change. “I wish people did it for us when we were growing up,” he says. After saying his goodbyes to the photo crew, King makes his way to the car with Mendoza for the long drive back to Las Vegas. Tomorrow he has classes to teach. THE RED BULLETIN



Peak

BMX

It’s 1987 and the BMX craze of the past five years is over. Bike manufacturers such as Raleigh – which had been churning out close to a million Burners a year – are exiting the market, never to return. ITV’s Saturday morning show BMX Beat and Channel 4’s Kellogg’s BMX programmes have been cancelled. However, for BMXer Mark Noble, then 18 years old and growing up in Dorchester, Dorset, these were exciting times. “BMX got back into the hands of the riders and became far more interesting,” he recalls. “We were going to make the bike companies, build our own dirt spots and backyard ramps, create our own videos and magazines.” In 1988, Noble took ownership of one of those magazines, Freestyle BMX. “The publisher was moving on to premium-rate phone lines. He was like, ‘I don’t do magazines any more... Do you want it, Mark?’ I shot the photos, wrote the stories and put the magazine together. It was a few steps above making a zine in a bedroom, but my brother Chris and I knew we had to do it, because nobody else was going to.”

BMX would, of course, mature into a respectable sport with Olympic status, and Noble went on to run other BMX magazines – Invert and Ride BMX UK – but it wasn’t until 2021, and lockdown, that he had a chance to revisit this unique time. Digging through thousands of his old photos, he curated a book, Emulsion – named after the photo section of Ride BMX, and so-called because everything was shot on film. The pictures on the following pages are a fraction of the hundreds Noble sourced for his 288-page love letter to BMX’s little-known heyday. “Through the ’90s and early 2000s, BMX really was underground,” he says. “If you were a teenager in that era, this should rekindle memories. It was mayhem: no TV crews, no first aid, no medical cover, just thousands of kids who’d somehow managed to get down to a Backyard Jam to live the BMX thing. Those were amazing times. Because this was peak BMX.” Words TOM GUISE 56

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Bike test, Hampshire, 1993 “This is Geoff Cain at a secret backyard ramp. A friend of mine, Steve Geall, was putting together a bike frame company, Zima, welding his own parts in his workshop. Geoff and his brother Doug had one of these bikes, so we went down to this hidden location to test it.” THE RED BULLETIN

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Mark Noble

Top: Broadmarsh Banks, Nottingham, 1988 “This was a real street spot back in the day. These guys [from left: Shaun Allison, John Yull, Ross Marshall] were the sort of cutting-edge street riders bringing Nottingham onto a global scale. Yull was my nemesis, competing in the same flatland contests.”

Above: Southbank, London, 1987 “The original Southbank Undercroft before they panelled it off. The rider doing a power-mower kickturn is Sid, and the mug in the foreground is Dave Slade, an early pioneer of street riding. He’d bring skate elements to BMX, doing wall rides, inventing stuff. He was also making BMX videos before anyone else in the UK. He’s now a renowned film director living in LA [Slade’s films include Hard Candy (2005), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)].” 58

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Sobell Leisure Centre, London, 1987 “Here’s American pro Ron Wilkerson riding for Haro before he started his own bike brand, Wilkerson Airlines. The event, Holeshot, is one of those pivotal moments, because BMX was on the way down, about to bomb out, but anyone who went will have it burned into their minds. This was one of the last times you’d see freestylers in kit like this, because from this point onwards everyone was in jeans, sweatshirts and Vision Street Wear, with Swatch watches.”


Scott Carroll, Dorchester, 1990 “This is the backyard vert ramp at the bottom of my parents’ garden. Scott Carroll always had the latest Haro stuff because it was the coolest brand, and that’s his Haro Master Bashguard bike. He was super-photogenic, a sponsored rider, had a great semi-aggressive style, and was just a really good bloke. Sadly, he’s no longer with us – he took his own life a few years ago. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this book: to celebrate those riders who, for whatever reason, are no longer with us. And Scott is one of them – a good friend of mine.”


Mark Noble

“My book celebrates all the riders who, for whatever reason, are no longer with us”

Backyard Jam, Hastings, 1993 “Backyard was an annual event organised by Stuart Dawkins. It was a ramp contest one day, a dirt jump the next, and every year it escalated in gnarliness and popularity until it ended up as a mini festival. That Renault van is full of Scottish people [Team Sano]. In those days, people travelled hundreds of miles to meet up with those they hadn’t seen since the year before. He’s already getting the beers on, so the ramp contest is finished and we’re all going to the bar to watch a band.”

Reaction workshop, Dorchester, 1994 “In the ’90s, bike stuff wasn’t as good as it should have been, and certain parts would break an awful lot. Rob Ridge [pictured] would rebuild brakes, pegs, hubs, goodness knows what, to his sort of standard. He did quite a tidy little business.” THE RED BULLETIN

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Mark Noble

Left: Jason Davis, 1993 “One of the best riders ever to touch a ramp. He’d wear the proper helmet and chest protector, because if you broke yourself it was very much on your own head.”

Right: Paul Roberts, 1992 “A BMX legend. Always made for great pictures because he was a rad jumper, and he always connected with us because he was sponsored and needed coverage. Now, he’s a singer, songwriter and accomplished photographer himself, living in LA.”

Chester, 1989

“This is an old ’70s skatepark we came across during a jam. Some of it had been [deliberately] rendered unrideable, but we still found bits we could ride. The guy up the wall is Dave Slade again.” 62

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“If you were a teenager in the ’90s, these images should rekindle memories” King of Concrete, Southsea, 1998 “This took place at Southsea Skatepark every year. The rider is Alex Bender, a German with a really solid style. This was one of the first events Red Bull got involved in – you had the massive inflatable can at the back. A fizzypop company with a big chequebook is gonna start sponsoring stuff? OK!”


King of Vert, Mansfield, 1990 “This is one of those seminal moments in BMX: [American pro] Mat Hoffman does a flair – a backflip with a 180 – which he’s just invented on the fly. He landed it, the place went batshit crazy, and it was one of those things: ‘Were you there when Mat Hoffman did the trick?’ It was like, ‘Oh God, that’s it, BMX is changing now.’” 64

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Mark Noble

“It was a changing of the guard. It’s exciting seeing new riders come through”

Bexhill racetrack, 1990 “A lot going on here. And a lot of characters. The guy on his bike on the left is Keith Duly, a Hastings local and BMX legend who now runs a brilliant BMX park called JumpClub. In the foreground is Stu Dawkins, who founded the shop Backyard (now called Seventies). These were the super-early days of Backyard and these people helped the UK BMX industry.”

Urban Games, Clapham Common, London, 2001 “A young Bas Keep. It was like, ‘Watch out for this kid, because he’s getting really good.’ And he was. The 2000s were when he started to make his mark. It was a changing of the guard. Older riders were starting companies, running events or just being older guys, and younger riders like Bas, Owain Clegg and Ali Whitton were coming along. It’s always exciting to see new people come through.”

Emulsion: Photos of BMX From 1987 to 2004 by Mark Noble is available now in a limited run of 250 copies, emulsionbmx.bigcartel.com THE RED BULLETIN

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Grit is not giving up SARAY KHUMALO is the first Black African woman to climb Mount Everest. But the summit was never the prize – her true goal is to transform the lives of South African kids Words MARK JENKINS

COURTESY OF SARAY KHUMALO

Photography ROSS GARRETT

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along the route, at airfields in the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Canada, the USA, Russia, Japan, Taiwan,


Hitting her peak: Saray Khumalo celebrates reaching the summit of Mount Elbrus in 2014


Aiming high: Khumalo wants to become the first Black African woman to climb all of the Seven Summits and reach both Poles


Saray Khumalo

We

are as far away from civilisation as you can get in South Africa, deep in the dreary, dripping Drakensberg Mountains, yet Saray Khumalo is still working. When her cell phone gets a signal, she’s on it. When it’s pouring with rain, she opens her umbrella, marching through the puddles. In the evenings, I can hear her working from inside her tent. Khumalo, 49, is a veteran banking and insurance executive who lives in Johannesburg. She’s also the first Black African woman to summit Mount Everest. Khumalo climbed Everest via the standard Southeast Ridge route in 2019, following three difficult, disappointing attempts in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Given that Africa is a continent of 54 countries and 1.4 billion people, it’s shocking that it took so long for a Black African female to make the ascent. But it makes sense that Khumalo is the one who did it: her determination is at once understated and undefeatable. Though she’s brilliant, stylish (she’s graced the cover of fashion magazines), cosmopolitan and successful, if you get her into the mountains she can suffer like an old-school mountaineer. Khumalo also knows her way around a boardroom, and the value of PR. She understands better than anyone I’ve ever met how to leverage her mountaineering success for a larger purpose. After all, she’s not out there for fame; she’s out there to build libraries and opportunities for poor Black South African kids. She’s climbing for them.

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Our hike in the Drakensberg has an inauspicious beginning. For the past five months, Saray (pronounced ‘Sarah’, with a rolling of the ‘r’) has been leading weekend hikes, hoping to prepare a team of beginners for a trek through the Drakensberg. All the participants are successful Black South Africans or Indians – IT consultants, business owners, CEOs. They have good gear, and the flexibility to take a week off work. Packing lists and pointers were emailed weeks in advance. The trip is being led by Khumalo and Sibusiso Vilane, 51, the first Black African man to climb Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits (the highest peaks on each of the seven continents): Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Mount Vinson and Carstensz Pyramid. A young local guide named Lungela and two porters complete the team. The first day is a disaster. Our goal was to hike to the rim of the Drakensberg escarpment, but by late afternoon we’re nowhere close. We’re trapped in a steep, narrow ravine with cold rain blowing sideways and the black blanket of night almost upon us. We should have stopped hours ago, but now it is too late. Khumalo and I decide that I should immediately scout for a possible campsite, but there are none – the mountainsides are too steep. Vilane keeps insisting that the top of the escarpment is not far. “It’s right there,” he shouts, pointing up to a notch in the misty skyline. But it’s too far for these newbies. I later learn that we’ve come to the jagged, verdure Drakensberg (‘Dragon’s Mountains’ in Afrikaans) – South Africa’s highest range, with more than 1,000km of castle-like walls and deep gorges – in the wrong season. It’s November, the start of summer, when it rains incessantly. And when you climb above 3,000m, that often means snow. After it gets dark, we’re dangerously strung out in the precipitous gully. Surveying downward, our headlamps – like stars one can barely see – reveal that some of our team members are still stumbling upward on the slick scree,

Khumalo has a determination that’s understated yet undefeatable

while others have simply stopped like worn-out donkeys, crushed by the weight of their heavy backpacks. At the rim of the gorge, I drop my pack and head back down. I first get Metsi’s pack and bring it up, then Kholiwe’s, then I discover Beaula sitting in the dark in a cleft of boulders. Her headlamp has stopped working. The batteries are wet. After being dried off, they function again, and she continues upwards while I descend for yet another backpack. It’s midnight by the time we finally make our camp atop the escarpment. Most of the team don’t have a clue how to set up their tents. The wind and sleet certainly don’t help. Eventually, everyone is zipped inside their billowing nylon shelters, shivering inside their damp sleeping bags, too exhausted to move. The two cooks-cum-porters are too tired to boil water, let alone fix dinner. The next morning, we sorely need the sun, but it’s drizzling. The porters manage a pot of inedible pasta and I bring them water from rock puddles to boil tea for everyone. Vilane is in good spirits and Khumalo is stolid, as befits their characters, but everyone else is as gloomy as the weather. We pack up and set out along the crest of the Drakensberg, slow and dispirited. It’s a comically miserable beginning for our team of neophytes.

I

was last in the Drakensberg in 1987, when apartheid was tearing the country apart. My father, a maths professor, was teaching Black maths teachers in Soweto, the world’s most dangerous homeland ghetto. Homelands, like Indian reservations in the US, had been created to force Black people out of white South Africa. White police were indiscriminately murdering Black youth; in retaliation, Black youth were killing random white people. Everyone saw a civil war on the horizon; whites feared Blacks would win the conflict and treat them as brutally as they’d treated Blacks. One man, however, believed his country was better than this and envisioned a more hopeful future: Nelson Mandela, although in 1987 he’d already spent 24 years in prison and would remain there until his release in 1990. Ignoring the obvious dangers, my brothers and I cycled across eastern South Africa, from coastal Durban to Johannesburg, right through the heart of former Zululand, and we were treated with nothing but kindness throughout. 69


“I’m not climbing for myself, but for every Black child in South Africa” We ate what the locals ate – biltong (jerky), meilie pap (cornmeal porridge) and tripe – and slept in the round mudand-thatch rondavels of villagers. We heard the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing on battery-powered radios and breathed the blue exhaust of overloaded bakkies (small pickups) with farmhands crowded in the bed. Some weeks later, I hiked into the Drakensberg with future Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) president Paul Fatti and climbed the north ridge of the Eastern Injisuthi Triplet, a hard eight-pitch route that Fatti had put up a decade earlier. It was classic Drakensberg alpine climbing – slippery vertical basalt, long runouts, delicate moves grasping fistfuls of grass – and I loved it. I swore I’d return to the Drakensberg the following year. Alas, work and life took me other places, although South Africa – a country that could teach my own nation so much about truth and reconciliation – stayed in my heart. Now, almost 35 years later, I’ve returned. Apartheid has since been vanquished, Mandela forged a peaceful path forward, and Saray Khumalo, the first Black African woman to summit Everest, was trying to jump-start a new generation of Black outdoor athletes. “We must build our outdoor community from the ground up,” Khumalo tells me on day two of our Drakensberg hike. Khumalo is a tall, strong, striking woman. She has a commanding presence that belies her soft but direct voice. You can imagine her in a suit making difficult business decisions with calm precision. “What about the MCSA?” I ask, splashing along the trail. “They do lots of outings and clinics and climbing meets.” Khumalo gives me a sour look. She had joined the prestigious MCSA years ago and did some climbing with them, but she felt distinctly unwelcome and eventually quit. “Sibusiso had the same experience,” Khumalo says. (When I later ask Fatti about this, he admits he can “see how she felt that way”, acknowledging that while the club 70

Born leader: Khumalo is committed to creating a community for Black outdoor athletes

encourages all new members, regardless of colour, it’s still predominantly white.) “I’d welcome a partnership with the MCSA,” Khumalo says, stabbing her ski pole into the mud. “But we must still begin to create our own outdoor community. That’s precisely why we’re here.”

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t rains the entire second day. I first walk with Metsi Makhetha, 55, who, unlike the others, is a fit, accomplished hiker. She has worked for the UN for 25 years and lived all over the world. Most recently, she’s been posted to Burkina Faso as the UN’s resident coordinator. Makhetha grew up in Soweto, and both her politically active parents ended up being imprisoned by the apartheid government. When she was 11, the police came to her house in the middle of the night. Makhetha told her mother to hide and stood in the doorway, but the police pushed right past, grabbed her mother and began dragging her out of the house. “I was trying to stop this huge Afrikaner policeman,” she explains. “And then I looked up into his eyes, and you know what I saw? Fear. He knew

that he was perpetrating injustice. I have never forgotten that.” Makhetha has spent her career at the UN working for equality and justice, from fair housing laws in South Africa to energy policies for the continent as a whole. “This country has strong, determined women,” she says. “And Saray is one of them.” Hours later, we’re still slogging through the mud and I’m trying to get Khumalo to talk about her Everest climb. She walks with resolve and little conversation with anyone. “Everest is just a metaphor,” she says, admitting she’s not much of a rock climber or an ice climber: she climbs mountains, big mountains. Khumalo would rather talk about the charities she funds through her climbs. “Education has always been my focus – education and representation,” she says, lifting her umbrella to look me straight in the eyes. From the very beginning of her mountaineering career, Khumalo was climbing for a purpose – indeed, her foundation is named Summits With a Purpose. In 2012, she climbed Kilimanjaro to raise money to build a library for Kids THE RED BULLETIN


Saray Khumalo

Haven, a home for street kids in Benoni, a poor town just outside Johannesburg. Following her ascent, she went to Kids Haven to give a programme, and afterwards a young Black girl said to her, “People like you don’t do this sort of thing.” Khumalo was stunned. “She meant Black people don’t do this sort of thing. And she was right. She’d never seen anyone like me.” That child changed Khumalo’s life. “I decided I could not live in a world where we were limited – and worse, limiting ourselves – because of the colour of our skin. I have two sons. I needed to leave them a better world.” In 2014, Khumalo attempted Everest for the first time, raising money for the Lunchbox Fund, a programme that provides school meals. The 2021 South Africa National Income Dynamics Study found that many people can’t afford food. Some 2.3 million households reported child hunger, and 40 per cent of all South Africans of all age groups suffered from a lack of food. “You can’t learn if you’re hungry,” Khumalo says. She was at Base Camp on April 18, 2014, when the Khumbu Icefall collapsed, THE RED BULLETIN

killing 16 Sherpas. It was the end of that expedition, but Khumalo still managed to raise money to provide 60,000 school meals through the Lunchbox Fund. She returned to Everest the next year to raise money for the Nelson Mandela School Library Project, which serves more than 200,000 kids. On April 25, 2015, Nepal was struck by a 7.8 earthquake and 22 people died in avalanches on Everest. Again, she didn’t get close to the summit, but she raised enough money to build her first library. “Saray was deeply committed,” says Robert Coutts, CEO of the Mandela project. “She gave her word and never gave up. It became quite a significant partnership for us.” South Africa has 48 million Black citizens and four million whites. Only 14 per cent of Black students there finish high school, compared with 65 per cent of white students. Almost 80 per cent of all South African students have no library. And more than 14 per cent of Black South Africans are illiterate, a rate 45 times higher than for the white population. “My [goal] is to make sure the next generation of Black children can reach their own goals,” says Coutts. “And they can’t do it without an education.” We’ve spent the entire day walking in cold, driving rain down a muddy track. The team is just as sombre as it was when we started at five this morning. When we finally make camp, I boil water for the team in my tent while the porters work up mashed potatoes and gravy. Nobody wants to hang out in the rain and talk – we’re already soaked to the bone – so we all retire to our tents and pray for sunshine.

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he next morning, almost unbelievably, the sun comes out and so do the smiles. Suddenly everyone is voluble. I can tell some of our beginners are thinking maybe backpacking isn’t so bad after all. Vilane gathers the team in a circle and wants to talk about the meaning of a single word: grit. We’re each asked to

“Everest is just a metaphor. My focus has always been education”

give our definition of the word. When it is Khumalo’s turn, she steps forward, surveys the team, pauses, then says only, “Don’t give up.” On cue, heavy clouds roll up over the horizon and it begins to sprinkle. After our recent pounding, we’re all wary, but it doesn’t get worse. We’re even gifted with a few random rays of sunshine at lunch. Sabelo Myeza, an engineer and the only one who always has a smile on his face, cuts off strips of biltong for everyone. Our plan is to cross right over Thabana Ntlenyana, which at 3,482m is the highest peak in all of southern Africa. Myeza leads the charge, shouting, “We’re taking the bull by the horns!” On the summit, he’s rejoicing, despite the hail stinging our faces, and I realise that Khumalo has once again been successful. Myeza is a convert. He’ll be back out here the next chance he gets. Crunching down through the snow, I catch up with Khumalo and her Everest saga. Undaunted by defeat in 2014 and 2015, Khumalo returned to Everest in 2017. This time, her plan was to raise enough money to build three libraries for the Mandela project. “I’m not climbing for myself,” she says. “I’m climbing for every Black child in South Africa.” In 2017, she made it to the South Summit, tantalisingly close to the top, before high winds turned her back. Somewhere below the Balcony, at around 8,200m, she collapsed and lost consciousness. Her Sherpa rallied others at Camp IV and they managed to carry her down and get her in a tent, but then they just left her there. She was unable to help herself and spent the night on the frozen snow without a sleeping bag. The next morning a Sherpa named Lakpa found her in the tent, touched her and she moved. “Oh, you are alive!” said Lakpa, surprised. “Of course I am alive,” Khumalo replied. With the help of Sherpas, she made it back down to Camp II, but she had lost her mitten shells and frostbit her fingers. Two middle fingers on her right hand and the tips of her middle fingers on her left hand were amputated in a hospital in Kathmandu. “That’s when Everest got personal for me,” says Khumalo. “I had unfinished business.” Nonetheless, she still raised the money to build three libraries for the Mandela project. “It’s rare to meet a person so exceptional,” says Coutts. “Saray Khumalo believes, and she does.” 71


“I couldn’t live in a world where we were limited because of the colour of our skin”


Saray Khumalo

make us better people. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be sane.” Which is essentially the speech she gave to our team two days later upon the completion of our dreary, dripping trek across the Drakensberg. Everest is only the beginning for Saray Khumalo. Now, she has her sights set on becoming the first Black African woman to climb the Seven Summits. She’s done Everest, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro and Elbrus, and has Denali, Vinson and Carstensz left. She wants to do all of them in 2022. After that, she plans to become the first Black African woman to complete the Adventurer’s Grand Slam: the Seven Summits plus the North and South Poles. By that time, she may well be educating half the kids in South Africa. Survivor: Khumalo (left) on Everest immediately after the 2015 avalanche

COURTESY OF SARAY KHUMALO

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ocal Lesotho shepherds show up at our camp on our third night and, taking pity on us, build a fire. Only a few hikers are willing to leave their tent and stand in the rain by the fire, but Kholiwe Makhohliso, 46, is one of them. She’s singing softly around the campfire. “It’s Empini by Kelly Khumalo,” Makhohliso tells me. Kelly Khumalo is a famous Zulu pop singer, and this the refrain from Empini: “Ng’yathemb’ uyabona (I hope you see), sofela khon’ empini (we will die in battle), ngeke baskhona (they will not defeat us).” The day is a slow hike in thick fog to reach a stone hostel that houses the ‘highest bar in Africa’. I walk with Khumalo again and she finally tells me about her fourth and final attempt on Everest. Again, instead of talking about the climb itself, she first wants to talk about education. “This time I decided to raise money for iSchoolAfrica,” she says. “I want to change the narrative of education in South Africa.” iSchoolAfrica was founded to bridge the digital divide between white and Black students by providing underprivileged schools with iPads. “I went with Noel Hanna and an Irish team. It was the first time I saw people on Everest drinking every evening,” she laughs. After three previous attempts on Everest, Khumalo was better prepared, physically and mentally. She had learned

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She lost fingers to frostbite. “That’s when Everest got personal for me” her lessons and knew the strategy necessary for succeeding on a severely overcrowded mountain. “We got ahead of the crowds and summited in 11 hours from Camp IV on May 16,” she recalls. During the descent, her oxygen mask froze and she became severely hypoxic, but she made it down alive – although one of her teammates, Seamus Lawless, didn’t. No one knows exactly what happened, but Lawless, an assistant professor working in artificial intelligence at Trinity College in Dublin, unclipped from the fixed lines at some point below the Balcony and was blown off the mountain. “We searched for his body but never found it,” says Khumalo. Despite this tragedy, she fulfilled her commitment to iSchoolAfrica once more, helping the organisation to purchase iPads for a number of schools. “I don’t think anything happens that we can’t manage,” says Khumalo. “Everything is there to teach us something. We can choose to look at the negatives and not grow, or look at all the positives that

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ne of the schools that received iPads was Igugu Primary in Soweto, not far from where my father taught maths in the ’80s. My wife, Martha, a human rights attorney, and I visited this school after the Drakensberg hike. “We’re lucky we are near the Vumatel fibre-optic line,” said Ms Sonto Tshabalala, the principal at Igugu Primary. “We have 486 students, from preschool through to seventh grade, and all of them get to use the 10 iPads at least once a week.” The tablets come preloaded with lessons in maths and reading. Tshabalala takes us to the computer room, where a group of masked eight- and nine-yearolds are doing arithmetic on them. When we ask a shy girl named Simphiwe if she enjoys learning via computer, she says yes in a barely audible whisper, then quickly returns to solving maths problems. Just behind her is a small boy intensely concentrating on his screen. When he looks up at us, we ask if he prefers learning maths from the computer or from his teacher. He breaks into a broad smile and says proudly, “My teacher.” Michelle Lissoos is the director of iSchool Africa and has been working with Saray Khumalo for two years. “Saray is so inspirational to our South African youth,” Lissoos says. “When she walks into a room, her background and her childhood are contextually relevant; she makes students believe in themselves. She makes Black kids believe anything is possible. She’s taking every one of these African children with her on her climbs.” Instagram: @saraykhumalo 73


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DESERT ISLAND DRIFT

MATT STERNE

MATT STERNE

An ocean-kayaking adventure in Zanzibar


VENTURE Travel

“We forge on, our eyes battling the glare, shoulders tensing up like crab claws. For a time it’s just us, the sea and the sky” Matt Sterne, travel writer

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the core, head down, keep going!” We’re in the middle of a three-day kayaking tour, moving from one island to the next, wild camping as we go. The trip is the brainchild of Nick Haan, a Californian who has spent the past 30 years in East Africa, working with rural communities and, when time allows, kayaking the lengths of its great lakes. He’s fluent in Swahili and is a decent guitar player, especially after a few whiskies beside a campfire. Nick arrived in Zanzibar 15 years ago in search of the perfect place to launch kayak tours, and he came with a list of criteria. It had to be away from the tourist destinations (such as Stone Town on Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja, or the kitesurfing hotspot of

MATT STERNE

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he dhow, it turns out, can be a dangerously quiet vessel. Swift, graceful and silent, these ancient Arab sailing boats have a knack for sneaking up on you – especially if you’re in a small kayak, paddling your heart out between two islands off the southern tip of Zanzibar. They come by so close and pass so silently that they carry the thrill of a wildlife encounter. The sightings spur my kayak partner and I to pause and take stock of our situation – morning sun on our backs, warm water in our laps, the taste of sunscreen on our lips, and a destination that’s just a sliver on the horizon. We regather ourselves with shouts of encouragement: “Embrace

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VENTURE Travel

This page, from top: paddling to Uzi Island as a dhow passes close by; interior of one of the five double tents at The Hideout. Opposite page: view from camp on day two; the redknobbed starfish is a common sight on Niamembe Island; our local octopus catcher THE RED BULLETIN

Paje), face the sunset, be fairly close to the airport and have a viewpoint overlooking a small beach. Pretty particular, but he found the ideal spot. More than a decade later, The Hideout has finally sprung to life. There’s a tented camp for 10 people, a thatched communal dining area, and a small private beach. And it also happens to be close to Zanzibar’s original settlement, Unguja Ukuu. The reason it’s ideal for kayaking is the same one that attracted early settlers to the bay’s natural harbour: “The wind and waves are relatively calm and the geography is varied, with lots of islands, mangroves, coral reefs and sandbars,” Nick tells me. “This is the ultimate kayaker’s playground.” It’s also Zanzibar’s largest marine-protected area, and big hotels are restricted from 77


The Hideout Your 1,000-year-old secret settlement Located in the south of Unguja, Zanzibar’s largest island, Unguja Ukuu was a trading post from the sixth to the 10th centuries, well before Arab traders established Stone Town (now the old part of Zanzibar City). Pottery found at the site came from all over the world, from the Far East to the southern Mediterranean. Today, the authentic Swahili fishing village remains very much undeveloped. Set among coconut plantations and mangrove wetlands, there’s one school, a few mosques and a football field for the 4,000 inhabitants.

opening here, so it’s off the tourist radar. There isn’t a souvenir shop or cocktail bar in sight. “There are 10 islands in the bay and we’ll visit three of them,” Nick says on the night before our trip. “We’ll make allowances for wind and play everything according to the tides, as they have drastic changes.” We had witnessed that ourselves earlier in the day. The water had quickly retreated after high tide – like a tablecloth being theatrically ripped away – settling far in the distance. During the initial two hours of paddling on the first day, we learn how to set the kayak straight as we weave towards Niamembe Island. While lunching on the beach, we witness a local woman turn an octopus insideout like an old sock. Afterwards, we climb into our kayaks for another two-hour paddle, to the small, densely forested Pungume Island, where the only other person is a lone fisherman 78

The Zanzibar train Your ocean-bound itinerary Guests are picked up in Stone Town for a fully-inclusive tour. All food and drinks are catered for, including alcohol (roughly five drinks a night are allotted to each person). On Matt Sterne’s trip, he paddled 13km on the first day, 16 on the second and nine on the third, averaging around four hours a day in the kayak. The tour is intended to be fairly challenging, but guests need no prior experience. To find out more, or to book a trip, head to kayakzanzibar.com

on the far side of the beach. He tends a fire beneath two baobab trees while listening to a football match on his radio. We camp in a tiny clearing above the beach, the background music to our candlelit evening provided by the lapping tide. The wind picks up the next morning, churning the water into a frenzied chop, and our three-hour paddle becomes four, then five, interspersed with dhows cutting in front of us to have a closer look. They’ve moved around the Indian Ocean for thousands of years, carrying sailors from the Arabian Peninsula and along the East African coast to India – even, some believe, as far as China. Life-vest-wearing foreigners in red kayaks, frantically paddling across the channels, are a relatively new sight for them. We forge on, our eyes battling the glare and our shoulders tensing up like crab claws. For a time it seems to be just us, the sea and the sky, and, despite the battle, the experience carries a deep sense of peace. When we finally arrive at Uzi Island, we stagger from our kayaks like drunk sailors. That night, we sip rum from coconuts and make a fire on the beach as tree-climbing crabs scuttle in the shadows and the lights of the distant Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam shine across the ocean. On the third morning, our final paddle, we pass the type of coastline I’d imagined finding before I came here: palm trees swaying on the shore, rock formations honeycombed with caves, a turquoise sea with scores of jellyfish and urchins among the coral. We enter a pristine mangrove forest and pop out back at The Hideout. A beer in hand, the sunset deck provides the perfect base from which to assess the trip. The tour was a little rough around the edges, but the starry nights and sense of exploration more than made up for this. It really does feel like a kayaker’s playground, but Nick envisions it to be even more than that. “I want people to feel comfortable but also to enjoy the wild,” he says. “I want them to have the opportunity, should they wish, to personally transform. I love the connection with nature you get when you’re kayaking, and I want to share that, because I know that’s what all of us are looking for.”

Matt Sterne is a travel photojournalist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Instagram: @sternejourneys THE RED BULLETIN

MATT STERNE, SIMON WATSON

VENTURE Travel


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Step it up Running is about wellbeing – not just of the body, but also the mind and soul. It’s about sharing passion and support, pain and happiness, with a community, with friends. So kit up and find your running family Photography EDD HORDER Styling JAMES SLEAFORD


Osman (left) wears NIKE Dri-Fit Academy T-shirt, nike.com; THRUDARK Force Velocity Leggings, thrudark.com; SCOTT Speed Carbon RC Shoes, scott-sports.com; EVERLAST Fitness Gloves, everlast.com; shorts, model‘s own Abel wears SATISFY RUNNING MothTech T-shirt, Space-O 2.5in Distance Shorts and Justice Tights, satisfyrunning.com; UNDER ARMOUR UA HOVR Sonic 4 Storm Running shoes, underarmour.co.uk

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Nyoka wears NEW BALANCE Printed Impact Run Light Pack Jacket, newbalance. co.uk; MONS ROYALE Tarn Merino Shift Tee, eu.monsroyale.com; SATISFY RUNNING Bandana, TechSilk 8in Shorts and Justice Tights, satisfyrunning.com


Top row, from left: Osman and Abel, clothing as on opening spread; EVERLAST Fitness Gloves, everlast.com Bottom row, left: SAUCONY Triumph 19 Running Shoes, saucony.com; SCOTT Speed Carbon RC Shoes, scott-sports.com; other shoes, models’ own Bottom row, right: Abel, as on opening spread THE RED BULLETIN

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Sepehr wears MONTANE Off Limits Cotton Hoodie, montane.com; THRUDARK Force Velocity 2-in-1 Shorts, thrudark.com; running tights, model’s own

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Jerry wears MONS ROYALE Tarn Merino Shift Wind Jersey, eu.monsroyale.com; LULULEMON Base Pace High-Rise Tights, lululemon.co.uk; MONTANE Trailblazer LT 20L Backpack, montane.com


Kens Kampf-Grimasse Riverside Park, 1982

Ken Swift, an influential member of the Rock Steady Crew, performs at a jam in Manhattan’s Riverside Park. Here Swift demonstrates a Osman wears known as ‘mad facial gesture THRUDARK Grunt mugsy’, which wasGilet, inspired by thrudark.com; martial arts film star Bruce Lee and other clothing, as on rival intended to intimidate opening breakersspread in a battle.


Abel wears SATISFY RUNNING Organic Cotton Hoodie, satisfyrunning.com

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Nyoka wears MONS ROYALE Tarn Merino Shift Tee, eu.monsroyale.com

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Martha Cooper Claude wears SATISFY RUNNING Cloud Merino Long Tee, satisfyrunning. com; other clothing, model‘s own

Photographer’s assistant JAMES BARRETT Styling assistant FLORRIE BARBER Models ABEL, JERRY, NYOKA, OSMAN and SEPEHR Thanks to CLAUDE UMUHIRE, VICTOR MACAULEY and LUCY RICHARDS at The Running Charity


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VENTURE Fitness TRAIN

Under pressure Don’t have the time or the patience to pump iron for hours on end? Here’s a speedier technique for building muscle and improving your health Gustavo Vaz Tostes knows the benefits of a consistent workout regime. The former pro footballer began musclestrength training at the age of 12, and today, at 34, is a CrossFit level-two expert and head of training at WIT Fitness in London. But Vaz Tostes also knows that finding the time isn’t always easy. “After the birth of my daughter, I saw the volume of my training drop by 70 per cent,” he says. “I realised my workouts had to get smarter.” So the Brazilian introduced performance occlusion or blood-flow restriction (BFR) training to his routine. By slowing the blood flow to your upper or lower body, BFR makes the muscles work harder, even when using a lighter weight. “This speeds up the rate at which your muscles become exhausted, which is the goal of the workout,” he explains. “It allows me to do in 40 minutes what used to take two hours.”

MATT RAY

Minimal effort

The doctrine is usually ‘more’: more weight, more exercises, more sessions. But, says Vaz Tostes, “Muscles can’t count.” It doesn’t matter how many reps you do, or what weight you use, so long as you put the same stimulus into those muscles. Studies show that BFR training requires a weight that’s just 20-30 per cent of your one-rep max, rather than the standard 70-80 per cent. Previously, this would require THE RED BULLETIN

Feeling the squeeze: fitness trainer and BFR advocate Gustavo Vaz Tostes

specialised equipment and supervision, but new products such as Hytro’s BFR tees and shorts have adjustable straps in the upper arms and legs, allowing wearers to safely administer the correct pressure (around 70 per cent) at home or in the gym.

Sore points

Anyone who regularly hefts dumbbells knows delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – the pain felt in inflamed muscles during the post-workout repair stage. It’s why recovery sessions exist, maximising the flow of blood to affected areas, Again, BFR can provide a shortcut. “Applying pressure then reducing it speeds up recovery between workouts,” says Vaz Tostes. “You can just sit watching TV with the

shorts on.” This process also compensates for increased recovery times as we age.

Formula fit

Vaz Tostes gets his clients to do hybrid workout sessions: three sets of regular weightlifting exercises, then four sets with BFR, dropping the weight. With a scientifically backed format of reps (30, 15, 15, 15, with 30 seconds rest between each set), muscle exhaustion is achieved in significantly less time. “When you’re using regular weights throughout a whole session, it’s hard to maintain the

“BFR also helps speed up recovery” Gustavo Vaz Tostes

intensity,” says Vaz Tostes, “This way has a physiological benefit. And it’s safer.”

Strength to go

A 2021 study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that a weekly musclestrengthening session can slash mortality from all noncommunicable diseases by as much as 20 per cent. Vaz Tostes recommends always packing a training kit, even for trips away. “I tell my clients to bring resistance bands with them. They weigh nothing, but team them with BFR and you can do a really good musclebuilding session in your hotel room in just half an hour.”

Follow Vaz Tostes and find out more about WIT Fitness via his Instagram: @gus.witfitness. For information on Hytro’s BFR garments, go to hytro.com 91



VENTURE Gaming

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VRAJESH ERDA

STU KENNY

ira Erda has spent her life shattering stereotypes, often at speeds of more than 240kph. In 2019, she became the first Indian woman to score an international podium in Formula 4. “Once the helmet is on, nobody knows whether it’s a boy or a girl,” says Erda. “It’s just a racer.” Although only 21, Erda has been racing for more than a decade already; she began when she was nine, after her motorsports-mad dad opened a go-karting track in her home town of Vadodara. The same year, she spectated her first elite karting race. “That was when I realised there were no girls in racing,” she says. “Not just in India, but around the world. It motivated me.” Erda recorded her first victory at the age of 12 and quickly progressed through the ranks, battling prejudice from male competitors on the track, and from potential sponsors off it. But her results speak for themselves: Erda became the youngest woman ever to race in F4, was Formula 4 Rookie Champion of the Year in 2016, and was named Outstanding Woman in Motorsports by the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India two years later. And she’s working to get more women into motorsport. “I opened an academy,” says Erda. “Every year, we train hundreds of students.” She also happens to be pretty great at the racing video game Gran Turismo 7. During the pandemic, getting real-life track time wasn’t easy, so she set up a home racing rig. “I had to keep managing my driving skills,” she explains. Here are Erda’s real and virtual track-beating tips…

Embrace the unfamiliar

GT7 features more than 400 cars, but you have to play through the more mundane vehicles before accessing high-performance rides. Erda considers this a positive. “When you turn up for a real race, you THE RED BULLETIN

DRIVE

Winning formula

Racing driver Mira Erda was notching up victories at the age of 12. Unsurprisingly, she’s also quite good at Gran Turismo 7… don’t always get a car that’s exactly how you want it,” she says. “I prefer a basic setting on the sim, adapting my driving style accordingly.”

speed through the corners. In sim racing, you might feel you’re carrying it, but you can often get 10 per cent more if your timing is right.”

Accept assistance

Power steering

Erda received just 25 days of training before her real-life racing debut, but for GT7 she recommends starting out with less intensity. “Use the driverassist functions like ABS and automatic gears until you become confident,” she says. “And keep the driving line on until you’re used to the track. Master the basics first.”

Fancy footwork

“Know the pressure you can put on your pedals,” Erda says of both real and sim racing. “That allows you to carry your

One of the biggest challenges Erda faced when young was gaining the physical strength to compete with adult men. “I had no idea how much fitness was needed to drive at such speeds,” she says. “I’ve seen a huge change since improving

“I knew that to change my sport I had to keep winning” Mira Erda

my strength. It allows you to push the car, getting better results.” She works out for at least 45 minutes a day, split between conditioning, reflex training, cardio and sports.

Stay the course

Erda tells an anecdote about her first race win. She started in last place after a technical issue in qualification. “That’s when you have to push yourself and fight,” she says. “In three laps, I overtook 14 competitors and finished with a huge lead. I could see people were shocked that a girl could do that. To change things, I knew I had to keep winning.”

Gran Turismo 7 is out now on PS4 and PS5; gran-turismo. com. Follow Mira Erda on Instagram: @mira_erda 93


CUBE BIKES UK / cubebikes.co.uk


VENTURE Calendar

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May to 29 August OUR TIME ON EARTH Perhaps the greatest obstacle we face in tackling the climate emergency is talking about it. This exhibition aims to provoke that vital conversation, with installations including a simulation of our world as seen through ‘tree time’; a multispecies ‘banquet’ with the table laid for everything from humans and birds to fungi and moss; a commute through a rewilded city concept; fashion garments crafted from living cells; and a trip beneath the earth with activist George Monbiot to meet soil-dwelling grubs (not a euphemism for politicians). Barbican, London; barbican.org.uk

10 FRED POMPERMAYER/RED BULL CONTENT POOL, RIITTA IKONEN AND KAROLINE HJORTH, JAMIE HEATH/JESPER HEDE

May onwards À LA FOLIE “To insanity” – that’s what the title of this documentary means in French surfer Justine Dupont’s native language, and it’s how her life seems to most of us as she chases the world’s biggest waves. The film looks at her 2020-2021 big-wave season as she rides some of the wildest swells in history, from Jaws and Mavericks in the Pacific to Nazaré in the Atlantic, winning three trophies at last year’s Red Bull Big Wave Awards and cementing her reputation as one of the all-time greats. “À la folie, for me, means ‘with passion’,” she says. “Because ‘madness’ is not what I see my surfing as.” redbull.com

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When headliner Sophie Ellis-Bextor takes to the main stage, the crowd may find that it really is murder on the dancefloor, having spent the last few days jogging in half-marathons at this running festival. But they can also sit back and enjoy guest speakers such as happiness guru Danny Bent and four-time Ironman world champ Chrissie Wellington. Englefield House, Berkshire; runfestrun.co.uk

Making its debut is this festival of dancing and deep thought. Musicians including Grace Jones, Confidence Man (pictured) and Self Esteem will rub minds with the likes of scientist Richard Dawkins, comedian Sara Barron and drag queen Bimini. Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire; kitefestival.co.uk

Also known as the ‘happy hormone’, dopamine is released by our brains to make us feel great, and this multisensory experience is built to trigger it, with a mirror maze, a chamber of bubble guns and bubble tea, and rooms catering to popcorn and pillow fights. South Kensington, London; dopaminelandexperience.com

to 22 May RUNFESTRUN

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to 12 June KITE FESTIVAL

May onwards DOPAMINE LAND

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The Red Bulletin is published in six countries. This is the cover of our Swiss edition for June, which features French professional enduro and freeride MTB ace Kilian Bron. For more stories beyond the ordinary, go to: redbulletin.com

The Red Bulletin UK. ABC certified distribution 141,561 (Jan-Dec 2021)

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Head of The Red Bulletin Alexander Müller-Macheck, Sara Car-Varming (deputy) Editors-in-Chief Andreas Rottenschlager, Andreas Wollinger (deputy) Creative Directors Erik Turek, Kasimir Reimann (deputy) Art Directors Marion Bernert-Thomann, Miles English, Tara Thompson Designers Martina de ­Carvalho-Hutter, Kevin Faustmann-Goll, Cornelia Gleichweit Photo Editors Eva Kerschbaum (manager), Marion Batty (deputy), Susie Forman, Tahira Mirza, Rudi Übelhör Digital Editors Christian Eberle-Abasolo (manager), Marie-Maxime Dricot, Melissa Gordon, Lisa Hechenberger, Elena Rodriguez Angelina, Julian Vater Head of Audio Florian Obkircher Managing Editors Ulrich Corazza, Marion Lukas-Wildmann Publishing Management Ivona Glibusic, Bernhard Schmied, Melissa Stutz Managing Director Stefan Ebner Head of Media Sales & Partnerships Lukas Scharmbacher Head of Co-Publishing Susanne Degn-Pfleger Project Management Co-Publishing, B2B Marketing & Communication Katrin Sigl (manager), Katrin Dollenz, Thomas Hammerschmied, Sophia Wahl, Teresa Kronreif (B2B), Eva Pech, Valentina Pierer, Stefan Portenkirchner (communication), Jennifer Silberschneider Creative Services Verena Schörkhuber-Zöhrer (manager), Sara Wonka, Julia Bianca Zmek, Edith Zöchling-Marchart, Tanja Zimmermann Commercial Management Co-Publishing Alexandra Ita Editorial Co-Publishing Raffael Fritz (manager), Gundi Bittermann, Michael Hufnagl, Irene Olorode, Mariella Reithoffer, Wolfgang Wieser Executive Creative Director Markus Kietreiber Senior Manager Creative Elisabeth Kopanz Art Direction Commercial & Co-Publishing Peter Knehtl (manager), Erwin Edtmayer, Simone Fischer, Martina Maier, Andreea Parvu, Carina Schaittenberger, Alexandra Schendl, Julia Schinzel, Florian Solly, Dominik Uhl, Sophie Weidinger, Stephan Zenz Head of Direct to Consumer Business Peter Schiffer Direct to Consumer Business Marija Althajm, Victoria Schwärzler, Yoldaş Yarar Retail & Special Projects Manager Klaus Pleninger Advertising Manuela Brandstätter, Monika Spitaler Production Veronika Felder (manager), Martin Brandhofer, Walter O. Sádaba, Sabine Wessig Repro Clemens Ragotzky (manager), Claudia Heis, Nenad Isailović, Sandra Maiko Krutz, Josef Mühlbacher Finance Mariia Gerutska (manager), Simone Kratochwill, Elisabeth Maier MIT Christoph Kocsisek, Michael Thaler IT Service Desk Maximilian Auerbach Operations Alice Gafitanu, Melanie Grasserbauer, Alexander Peham, Thomas Platzer Assistant to General Management Sandra Artacker Project Management Dominik Debriacher Editor and CEO Andreas Kornhofer Editorial office Am Grünen Prater 3, A-1020 Vienna Phone +43 1 90221-0 Web redbulletin.com Published by Red Bull Media House GmbH, Oberst-Lepperdinger-Straße 11–15, A-5071 Wals bei Salzburg, FN 297115i, Landesgericht Salzburg, ATU63611700 Executive Directors Dkfm. Dietrich Mateschitz, Dietmar Otti, Christopher Reindl, Marcus Weber

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Semi-Rad Adventure philosophy from BRENDAN LEONARD

“My friend Tony and I cycled across the US in 2010, and during the 18 days it took us to get across the state of Texas we woke up one morning with almost no food left, 60-something miles from the nearest town, with a 30mph [48kph] headwind blowing in our faces. Our route was somewhat flat, but the wind was so oppressive I’d ride the up hills in my granny gear [the lowest gear], and on the down hills I’d stay in my granny gear. It took us 11 hours to ride 55 miles [88km], until the sun went down and the wind finally dropped. Later that year, Tony completed his first Ironman triathlon and I texted him to say congratulations. He replied, ‘It was hard, but nothing compared to that day in Texas.’”

The next issue of THE RED BULLETIN is out on June 14 98

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BEYOND THE ORDINARY

THE RED BULLETIN 06/2022