Do or be whatever you like in Brighton
Sussex has a reputation for independence of thought, an admiration of the independence of others, toleration of others and an aversion to being pushed around or told what to do. The unofficial Sussex motto is “we wunt be druv” – in Sussex dialect which was once spoken in the Sussex area, translates in English to ‘We won’t be driven’ and is still used by the Sussex Bonfire Societies today.
How does Brighton and Hove live by this motto?
It has one of the biggest LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, transgender and queer) communities in the UK. The heart of the community is located in a gay village, called Kemptown, which is made up of many gay bars and clubs and saunas near to the seafront on the eastern side of the city. A huge annual celebration at the end of August known as Pride sees the streets of Brighton transformed by rainbow flags, people in bright-coloured clothing, exotic costumes and, of course, the main parade with its floats, dancers and band all leading to Preston Park where a two-day festival takes place with nationally acclaimed artists and bands entertaining the masses.
The Lanes also reflect this notion through the majority of shops and businesses being small, organic companies, starting from nothing: boutiques, craft-shops and through a large representation of other communities such as vegans and vegetarians with shops such as ‘Vegetarian Shoes’ and many bespoke cafes and food shops.
It has a lot of graffiti – which is non-conformist through its illegality and aimed at obtaining a reaction. Brighton has a lot of ‘legal walls’ – walls designated by each cities council as being specifically for people to graffiti them as they wish, with complete freedom. Graffiti writers see blank walls as ‘ugly and repressive’ which is perhaps why Banksy chose Brighton to put his piece the two ‘kissing policemen’ - you can find this image on the back of the pub, The Prince Albert on Trafalgar street if you wish to see if for yourself.
The Naked Bike Ride - Every summer thousands of people strip-off completely to cycle from The Level all around the city centre and finishing at Brighton’s nudist beach for a skinny dip. Yes, Brighton also has a nudist beach.
Zombie walk – Since 2007, hundreds of people dressed as zombies gather to start at the West pier and walk, like zombies, into town - scaring all unsuspecting Brighton newcomers along the way. You may have realised through reading this article that most Brightonians don’t tend to bat an eyelid, as this unusual behaviour is quite characteristic of Brighton!
Lewes bonfire night – Every 5th November thousands of people flock to the historic town of Lewes to honour Sussex’s barbaric and bloody history by setting to the streets with 17 burning crosses and the biggest bonfire and fireworks display in the whole county. The carnivalesque nature of this event and the sheer individuality of many other events remind you of the wonderful freedom Sussex encourages its inhabitants to possess.