Portland – USA.
“Hi, I’m Dane.
This is my house.
Those are my curbs.
This is my skateboard.
This is my dog, Bruce.”
And so begins one of the most provocative, and dare I say innovative, video parts–at least in the poster’s opinion–in years.
What makes this part so noteworthy you say?
Let us count the ways:
1) YOUTH. In our little introduction/prelude to Mr. Brady’s part proper, we are taken to the exterior of his home. We see him, his house, his various curbs, his chipped up skateboard, and his chubby, lovable mutt, Bruce. This is all quite easy to relate to–comforting even–if you’re at all like me; a young (well, I was young at one time) white male who grew up in the suburbs of Anytown, US of A. You probably spent countless hours skating in front of your home, and what this introduction does for you and me, is set the tone of youthfulness–what it is like to exist on a skateboard when you are a child and when skating is still rabidly pure and constantly exciting (not that it’s not those things still as we age, but certain aspects of adulthood can jade a man.). This little intro sparks the idea that, yes!, there are still young skateboarders out there, thrashing curbs, chipping their boards, having fun, and looking damn good while doing it. There’s hope for today’s youth and Dane Brady is embodying that precious hope and all else that exists outside of prefab skatepark Instagram clips, Street League “rankings”, Monster Energy sponsorships/dentist bills, clickbait Ride Channel articles, and the five ring death toll that is the 2020 Summer Olympics. Dane is showing us that skateboarding is still fun and pure, all before his part even starts. The theme of youthfulness culminates later in his part when Dane skates a swing, discussed further in section five.
2) FRIENDSHIP. As the intro concludes and Dane’s name appears on the screen, we see him skating downhill towards darkness right before we are transplanted into a parking garage. Again, if you are at all like me, this is another resounding call to being young and needing to skate at all costs–having grown up in New England, parking garages are the lifeblood of skateboarding from November to March and I am sure that is the case in the rainy Pacific Northwest where our friend Dane is showing us around. But what is this? We are staring down at yet another curb, but this time with an unoccupied skateboard on top of it…how quizzical…wait…did this strange first trick require the use of two skaters? Indeed, as we rewind a few seconds back and re-watch, we see that our eyes did not deceive us and that the huge grin on our collective faces is near permanent. Dane Brady’s style of skateboarding requires friendship.
We all know skating is an individual act, of course, but what we also know to be true is that skating with our friends is even better. I’m not saying this is like EMB background lurkers throwing out daps or doing The Wave mid-line, I think that would probably come across as ironic or disingenuous in 2016, but rather that skating is more fun with other people, and that it is okay to collaborate and get help from your pals. It’s okay to goof off and have fun. A variation on this theme returns later when Dane powerslides across the street and his lanky friend in a Spitfire long sleeve is truly unable to contain his joy, excitement, and stoke, resulting in a stupefying grin and tight-legged bunny hops. This lovely moment goes well beyond the cringe-inducing Ty Evans slowmo and contrived embraces of yesteryear and exudes genuine stoke. Dane’s skating doesn’t just simply impress us, it gets us truly excited at all of the possibilities of skateboarding.
3) SLAMS. With joy comes pain, as well all know too well. Harking back to the intro, one of the first clips we see of Dane skating is him slamming, hard I might add, while attempting a lipslide on his parking block. While there are a few other slams peppered throughout the whole video, not only does Dane’s part start with one, but his entire section has some of the hardest. I am sure they’re all kept in for specific reasons, ranging anywhere from showing the difficulty of the trick, pain, or even aiding with the editing times, but I like to think that Pontus is reminding us that Dane is just like us–he falls. Slamming is the great equalizer in skateboarding; all the way from the little kid pushing mongo to legends who have been pro for decades, we all fall, and fall fucking hard. It is a good reminder that skateboarding requires pain and work, but it eventually pays off. For every gnarly slam we see Dane take, we are then rewarded with his make.
4) TERRAIN. About one quarter of the way through Dane’s part, there is a distinct shift in the type of terrain that we see him skating. In the first instance of unconventional terrain–aside from car hoods–we see him rolling down a grass hill mid-line (more on that later), but then we see him deliberately dropping his board into water and skating a small set of stairs. From the looks of the spot, there’s no doubt that Dane could have easily skated the spot without getting wet. Obviously he is not the first person to skate in a wet spot, but the point here is Dane’s intention. Dane is constantly reinterpreting his environment in order to change what can be done on a skateboard. It’s not about the most technical trick, biggest gap, or longest rail–it is about re-envisioning old spots, skating something freshly, anew. I am not saying that Dane is reinventing the wheel, but what we are witnessing him doing is wildly important to the culture of street skating. As skating grows more and more sterile through corporatization, olympification, now being largely restricted to fenced in skate parks, and becoming quantified by scores/rankings, breaking out of the mold and utilizing one’s imagination in public space is crucial not only to the progression of street skating, but simply the preservation of it all. It is important that young people are doing this and keeping the torch of street skating aflame.
Continuing on the notion of reinterpreting public space, along with water, Dane Brady skates grass–a lot of it. From charging down a grass hill in a line as mentioned above, to grinding the inside of ledges from the lawn, to skating grass banks both frontside and backside, and finally, to somehow doing a nose manual on a long and high chunk of grass, Dane might as well be a lawnmower. Much like skating through water, he is looking at spaces with a pair of fresh eyes and engaging with his skateboard off of the average surfaces that you or I would consider skating, and looking awesome while doing it. So much of the importance of skateboarding relies on the ability to find a good spot, and skate it well, and here we see Dane taking this into a different realm. This small section is not only exciting, but sort of unbelievable in many ways, and is a perfect segue for my next point.
5) DREAM SEQUENCE. At this point, Pontus incorporates some interesting choices and control over Dane’s part in a very beautiful way. After his wild grass section, we hear the lyrics in the song state “have you ever sat on an empty beach?” and we see Dane exit the world of skateboarding and enter into the world of Pontus’ mind, stumbling into an abandoned beach, looking confused, lost, and chasing Pontus’ mad, guiding umbrella. I would argue that these next few tricks in the proceeding forty seconds are surreal in a way, each exuding something special, whether it’s the trick, the spot, the filming, the reaction or otherwise. They exist in this dream sequence that Pontus has let us peak into, which he then shatters in one of the most truly incredible and beautiful sequences ever captured in a skate video.
As stated in section one, the thread of youthfulness and purity runs throughout Dane’s part, and it culminates at the end of the dream sequence when Dane ollies through the swing and the filmer turns to the presumable owner of said swing–and this is where something strange, but magical happens: we, the viewers, are taken out of the dream world that Pontus’ has created for us and Dane; the music is panned back, and the child speaks, not only to the filmer, but to us, the viewer. Dane’s part comes to a halt in this moment and this innocent swing-loving child is given a voice, one of total awe and astonishment: “It didn’t spin! He made it that time!”. I hope that child never forgets what he saw (and allowed to happen, because let’s face it, it was his swing–if only all property owners were this welcoming of skateboarding), because it was nothing short of wonderful.
Skateboarding is an artistic, creative, and exceedingly imaginative endeavor–that’s all street skating is really, reinterpreting and utilizing the space around you–and all of these wondrous traits are embodied in children. As I am sure we have all experienced in adulthood, these feelings of awe and excitement can get squeezed out of you through school, work, family, religion, and society in general, amongst other things; but there is something special about a child’s mind, and I think deep down we all strive to attain that blissful wonder again. I know for me, skateboarding is a large part of that pursuit. We are all chasing a dream. Sometimes we catch it, but a lot of the time it is fleeting. I am thankful for Dane and Pontus capturing a small part of that dream, and sharing it with us all. Dreams must come to an end, of course, and Pontus closes the sequence by coming back to the beach shot, with our traveler now collapsed on the beach, umbrella in hand.
The part then comes full circle here, cutting back to some beautiful skating of Dane along with some footage from his friends and teammates. We see a heavy pool session go down, including young Oskar, and are again reminded of how important youth and friendship are to skating; that feeling you get through camaraderie and stoke of a good session with people you care about. Noteworthy is the quick cut to a photographer, acknowledging the importance of the people documenting these special moments. As the session fades, we see more references to earlier parts of Dane’s skating–hard slams, unique spot selections and terrain, and just awesome skating overall.
This truly incredible part is a combination of Dane’s unique approach to skating which is then brought forth through Pontus’ vision of Dane’s skating, and skating as a whole, if we are looking at the whole video (we should). Dane interprets the world around him on his skateboard, and Pontus has the raw material to reinterpret it all over again and create the beautiful world which we just lived in these past four minutes.
I am forever grateful that there are skaters out there willing to dedicate the time, energy, money, pain, joy and everything else it takes to create something so beautiful and memorable, because it constantly inspires me, and hopefully you, too.