Insider Guide — Tag along with Brian Dolle and discover the skate side of Shanghai.

Brian Dolle is living proof that skaters make the best travellers. For anybody new to the country, China can seem intimidating – and nowhere more so than Shanghai. Vans skater Dolle moved to the bustling city from Philadelphia three years ago, but it didn’t take long before a friend of a friend linked him up with local skaters.

Most people new to a city discover it through trial, error and tourist maps. But for Dolle, his new mates were the best tour guides around. “They introduced me to the Shanghai skate life,” he says. “The best restaurants, street barbecues, bars, skate spots, bowling alleys, swimming pools and clubs. After learning a little Chinese, life here is easy – honestly, the hardest thing about living here is not getting to hang out with my parents anymore. And a serious lack of pizza.”

Dolle works three days a week as an English teacher. It gives him just enough cash to survive, leaving the rest of his time free to skate. Shanghai’s skate scene is a baby compared to the rest of the world – fifteen years of activity compared to half a century in the US – but Dolle says the city’s got the best scene in China. The Ride Channel on YouTube recently filmed a video of Dolle showing off his favourite spots. He was good enough to give us a little more detail – trust us: you’re not going to find these places on any tourist map.

What’s Up Shanghai?

by Brian Dolle

Love Park
“The Shanghai Concert Hall (also called Love Park) is the most recognised skate spot in Shanghai. Up to fifty skaters are there on any given day. It’s a place to meet up before moving to other spots. If you want to make friends in the scene, this is the place to start.”

“This is an American-style breakfast restaurant located at 936 Changle Road. It’s run by Shanghai skate legend Jay Meador and his wife Stacey. This is the best place to cure a hangover, drink coffee and make new friends.”

The corner of Changle Road and Fumin Road
“Here you’ll find Chinese street barbecue, small noodle restaurants, massage parlours, bootleg DVD stores and clubs like 88, Lune, Monkey and Shelter. The homies meet in front of the convenience store here and drink beer before getting into Friday night mischief.”

Fake Markets
“There are a couple of big markets with hundreds of little shops. They’re cool places to go on a rainy day to fool around with fake electronics, clothes, weapons, watches and just about anything else you could imagine. Be prepared to bargain.”

“Shanghai is a perfect home-base for travelling around China and all of Asia. We recently travelled to a ghost city in the north of China. [It’s called Ordos, they were the first to skate it – and yes, they got it on film.]”

You can see more of Brian Dolle’s adventures in the Ordos video by Charles Lanceplaine.