The Dime Glory Challenge has been compared to Wrestlemania, it has been called an antidote to Street League, and a joke in the face of skateboarding’s road to becoming an Olympic sport. I have heard colleagues echo my sentiments about Dime being the only company whose ideas are worthy of jealousy. “You know that one Dime video where ___” is a frequent refrain among many of our peers.
How do you write about something that everyone is unanimously in love with for the third year in a row without veering into trite redundancy? Why is it impossible to see anyone who doesn’t like Dime as anything but a shameless contrarian?
Last Saturday, we woke up so excited that we showed up to the Challenge at noon, only to learn that it would not begin until 3 P.M. Our moderately day-drunk sights set on our fellow attendees: only a week removed from #NYFW, a buzzed “wouldn’t it be funny” soon turned into asking strangers for pictures of their outfits to pass the time and break some ice.
The late fashion photographer Bill Cunningham once wrote that “fashion designers who reach the top and slipcover the bodies of a generation must deeply feel the spirit of the times. It’s not just a little effective outward trimming that produces real talent but an inner mystical revelation that a designer brightens the world with.”
It would not be reaching to say that Dime casts a wider net of attendees that say, Tampa Pro, Street League or Damn AM. You already know who is showing up to watch a standard skate contest: young kids dragging their parents along, eager teenagers thinking they’re about to get sponsored, and curmudgeon-ish industry types pretending like shit-talk isn’t the entire reason they work in skateboarding to begin with.
The pull quotes heard in the Glory Challenge parking lot while drinking contraband were far more colorful.
“This is like the skateboarding Osheaga.”
“These girls’ outfits remind me of my wife’s rave phase.”
“This is kind of what I imagine Burning Man to be like.”
We’ve said it is easier to think of Dime as a “thing” rather than a crew or a brand, but let us consider it as the generating-most-of-its-money-off-clothing enterprise that it really is. What inner mystical revelation has Dime — the skateboard fashion label with a logo half-borrowed from French couture house — found, and how has their annual “show” brightened our lives?
Skateboard contests have always been about one thing, and that’s who is the best. But in 2018, everyone is the best. A kid did a 1080 on a Mega Ramp before his puberty kicked in. A 7-year-old in a fairy costume has a better heelflip than you do. Chris Joslin does tons of crazy shit every day, but the last one I remember him doing is not vaccinating his kids.
To attend a skate contest in 2018 is to be beat over head with tricks you’ll forget in 45 seconds. In other words, a good skate trick in a mediated setting is effective in getting a reaction, but it is not revelatory.
To be picked by Dime’s algorithm, each and every moment you spend on a skateboard has to be working towards a revelation — it is a sophisticated, post-“I’d rather watch Gino push” quest for standing out in a sea of objective “goodness.” Can you imagine how fucking boring the Challenge would be if Dime’s algorithm picked contestants the way a standard contest did? Good skateboarding is simply fast-fashion now: what else is there?
The Dime Glory Challenge is less of a “contest,” and more a curation that shows what their idea of skateboarding is. Contests cannot get away with an entire half-hour spent skating on a wet floor, because wet floors hinder the performance of the best possible skate tricks. Except those who have submitted to this idea of what skateboarding is inside the Dime universe — a fun, inclusive thing that is not meant to be taken too seriously but let’s all pretend that it is serious because it’s funnier that way — do not care about doing the best possible skate tricks, nor do the people watching the show. The wet floor, the rolled ankle that leads to conceding two letters in S-K-A-T-E, and the jock knocking your tallest homie off his board are all part of skateboarding’s natural unpredictability.
It is no secret that people in 2018 are fascinated by skateboarding. This is the first year in which three separate movies have been made about skating; they all probably could’ve been about any other group of young people in their respective contexts, but they’re about skaters. Talk to anyone who has seen them, and you’ll learn that the toughest thing to convey in a skate movie, or any mediated representation of skateboarding, is a genuine tone.
The Dime algorithm is genuine in that it tells its story of skateboarding as a constantly evolving community. Internet heroes and cult personalities are as indispensable to skateboarding in the Dime universe as former SOTY winners (or the two guys who got robbed for SOTY.) Weckingball, Jamal Smith or Chachi are as paramount to the story as Wes, Tiago or Louie; Kalis’ role is as important as Kader’s. People gravitate to the Challenge because it acknowledges skateboarding as something far more beautiful than tricks, which is what a line of guys in Monster hats waiting to skate a handrail falls short of. It is a story told in jokes, fuck-ups, falls, blunders, and moments of “what just happened” rather than scoreboards.
Skateboarders are self-absorbed to the point of thinking that they’re the only ones equipped with x-ray bullshit detectors. However, it is a mistake to underestimate any large swath of young people’s ability to read whether something is genuine or not. I have never seen such an array of humans so welcomed to watch any other skate event, and if people are poking around for things that show them what exactly this hot thing skateboarding is, I’m happy that the Glory Challenge is the story they are picking up.