Video Review: Ethic - Dante Hutchinson, Welcome to the Family

January 4, 2022

Video Review: Ethic - Dante Hutchinson, Welcome to the Family

Dante Hutchinson officially rides for Ethic DTC, and was recently welcomed in this video, a compilation of street and skatepark riding documented across several countries. The riding component of this film is, as one might expect from individuals like Dante, chock-full of next level maneuvers, though ones which, in many ways, diverge from the norms of categorical video part creation. The park-to-street crossover is fundamentally changing the way that scootering is performed and in turn the way it is understood, this video offering adequate evidence to the fact. But, this part seems also in many ways to be an outlier, neither quite here nor completely there in either direction along the skatepark-street continuum. 

Calling attention to one clip in particular will, I think, serve to elucidate this classification. At the 0:50 mark, Dante performs a two-trick line in which he bar to fakie feebles a ledge, drops into a bank and then backflips into the successive bank. The two tricks stand as polar opposites to me; the former a relatively simple, though technical and “street-oriented” move, and the latter a display of sheer gymnastic ability, a move wrought with excitement and shock value. And, in some sense, the difference between these two particular tricks represents what is perhaps the fundamental difference between street and park riding overall: the extent to which a trick is intended to shock as opposed to merely fit. 

At least from my perspective, the purpose of street riding, and thus the purpose of tricks performed in this setting, is making use of the urban/suburban space in a way that is structurally counterintuitive, but which still to some extent fits cohesively with that space in its entirety. Grinding down a handrail certainly diverges from the broader social expectation in mind when such an object was created, but doing so still appears to be something of a natural progression—it ebbs and flows with the environment, ultimately creating a unified and seamless singular event. It’s an alternate use of space, but one which does not necessarily demand attention beyond the trick’s difficulty as integrated with that space. It fits, it entertains and it may even shock, though its deeper purpose is not so. By contrast, skatepark riding, and thus skatepark tricks (or at least those which have become increasingly popular in recent years), appear largely oriented around said shock value. The intention is seemingly athletic achievement, and for that reason the spatial confinement to one designated area is irrelevant, as the goal is to push progression rather than to create a unified event within a unique or specific spatial context. Such distinctions between riding styles aren’t inherently good or bad, right or wrong, but they exist, and as such they inform the actions and choices—deliberate and not—of individuals who partake in their exercise.

Returning to Dante’s part, this would appear to hold true. Dante’s influence—his trick selection, his clothing, even the way he holds and handles his scooter—look to be distinctly defined by a skatepark orientation. And, as such, his riding in urban settings presents something of a schism, a breakage from the norms of presentation in non-traditional spatial settings. The same might also be said of instances in which he performs any number of complex flip or other aerial maneuvers—widely regarded as “park tricks”—within a skatepark, but without a helmet or additional safety gear. Such cases both represent significant separations from the norms, expectations and widespread understandings of how given spaces are supposed to implicitly and explicitly influence what and how scooter riders ride, and in turn how this comes across in the expressed representations that they create. This video, in essence, challenges and conflicts with this subcultural status quo, and in doing so situates itself in its own category of interpretation.

None of this is to say, of course, that the tricks showcased in this video lack difficulty, style or even intuitive appeal. Many of those performed in both the skatepark and the street were genuinely intriguing—the backflip at 1:08, the bump to bar at 2:10 and possibly the best double tailwhip to frontboard ever done at 2:38, to name a few. What it is to say, though, is that important shifts are occurring within scootering, and it serves us well to consider their nature as well as what they mean for the future of scootering’s performance. Personally, I am interested in viewing the response to the heightened influence of subversive riding and videos, as this one discussed is in its own way. With any challenge to the existing state of things inevitably comes a formative reaction, and it will be interesting to see how this one in particular manifests. Though I don’t necessarily think it will result in more backflips being taken to the streets, I do believe it will fundamentally change the way that scooter riders approach performing tricks—the ways in which they think about what they intend to do and subsequently the ways in which they actually end up doing it—in all settings available to them. Only time can definitely tell, but videos such as this leave important implications for scootering’s future development, nonetheless.