Downtown Showdown 2013
Paris Is for (Art) Lovers
Thousands flocked to La Grande Halle de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France, on Saturday to experience the Vans Downtown Showdown, a skateboarding contest that celebrates creative culture on a grand scale. It felt like literally every skateboarder in all of the city attended, along with the most dedicated practitioners from various cities throughout France. Bigger than two Parisian cars stacked on top of each other, the stencil wall took stickering and spray paint to a level that piqued the curiosity of passersby. The crew from ATRIA supplied stencils and this interactive art experience.
This kid's face says it all: Skateboarding can be transformative. The first event of the day at the Vans Downtown Showdown was the Autism-Friendly Skate Session organized by a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for children with autism to participate in the social world through skateboarding. Most of these kids never stepped foot on a skateboard before Saturday's event. Vans will host an online auction for the live art created at Downtown Showdown and all of the proceeds will go to the organizing charity.
He's Been Everywhere, Man
The man, the myth, the legend: Steve Caballero, always with a smile on his face. He attends so many events each year -- including all four summer X Games in 2013 -- that we wonder if he sprang for the extra passport pages right off the bat.
Long gone is the time when girls just painted their nails red. These days it's called "nail art," and the girls from Wah Nails are pioneers. Hundreds of girls lined up throughout the day to get tribal-print nails, checkerboard fingertips or polka-dot lacquer from London's finest nail shop.
Skate legend Christian Hosoi checking out the prize for Best Pro, which went to Luan Oliveira for consistently killing it throughout the day.
Based in East London and focused on the art and craft of T-shirt printing for brands big and small, the Lovenskate crew is passionate about what they do. They're touted for hand-printing tip-to-tail designs on skateboards and continue to be influenced by early '80s skateboard graphics. To get the right look, they use hand-cut lettering stencils, a process that can take up to a day for one deck. Parisian skaters and event attendees lined up from open to close to try their hand at screen-printing, then stuck around for the "design your own Vans" coloring contest Lovenskate set up in a cozy corner of the cavernous venue.
Say My Name
L to R: Vans legends Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi and Tony Alva signed autographs for skaters of all ages.
Tony Alva might not approve, but the young bucks were getting proper cuts by the boys at the AONO (Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned) barbershop -- based in Brighton, England -- throughout the day. It might be the first time that these dudes were sporting "product" in their hair and looking decidedly more dapper. You can blame Danny Wainwright for letting Vans in on his barbershop secret and spreading style to the masses.
Skate legend Tony Alva watched the skateboarding with great intensity and signed autographs with an equal measure of humility. It's a long way from Dog Town to Paris, but Alva made it seem like he was just hopping next door.
Dutch artist Chris Versteeg of Projekt C works on his 120 mm x 120 mm panel while onlookers watch. He worked in acrylic paint and Posca to create the final piece, which will be auctioned off to raise money for an autism charity. You might recognize his work: He created the poster for the 2012 Vans Downtown Showdown, held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Steve Van Doren
The godfather of Vans, Steve Van Doren, knows how to brandish a pair of tongs and man a grill with gusto. He has the work ethic of a kid who grew up stacking boxes in the warehouse at Van Doren Shoe Company, and nothing seems to faze him when the 'cue is hot and the line for free dogs is 200 deep. "We need more buns!" he shouted; when buns couldn't be procured, he served the final free hot dogs on baguettes procured from the local bakery.
Ones and Twos
You've probably heard of John Cardiel's skateboarding prowess, but you might not know him by his alias, DJ Juan Love, who was in the house mixing reggae vibes to follow the old-school hip-hop of after-party headliners Black Moon.
It was estimated that 15,000 spectators navigated the Paris Mtro to discover what was going down at La Grande Halle de la Villette. Skateboarding drew them in and the atmosphere around the event kept them there. This little guy participated in Lovenskate's design-your-own-shoe contest.
Legend has it that the original Vans Waffle Sole was made with a waffle iron. To pay homage to their signature product, Vans put real waffles on the iron all day long; even the throngs of Parisians were impressed. Pas mal.
Chilean-born, Paris-raised, L.A.-living acclaimed street artist Mambo created the 2013 Vans Downtown Showdown poster art and produced the piece pictured behind him throughout the afternoon.