Who would have thought waterless pools and imagination would have lead to an entire cultural revolution? 

Innovative places like Dogtown thrive on cultural diversity of the artistic and the technical, but in the case of Dogtown, constraint also drove invention. “In important ways, the rise of skateboard culture in Dogtown shows striking parallels to the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx,” stated the Smithsonian. “In both places, innovation flourished in spite of its surroundings as inspiring proponents of problem-solving, risk-taking, and creativity appeared.”

The entire skateboard culture, as we know it today stemmed from the brilliant minds of twelve teenagers. The eleven boys and one girl formed the Z-Boys, and they created the aerial and sliding skate moves that were the basis for aerial skateboarding today. They redefined the sport.

Dogtown and the Z-Boys were established in mid-1960’s to 1970’s when the once majestic Venice Beach fell on hard times. Much of the area became a slum; abandoned roller coasters and piers deteriorated. According to the cofounder of the Zephyr surf shop, where the Z-Boys got their name, “[Dogtown] was dirty, it was filthy, it was Paradise.” 

According to the Smithsonian, “Dogtown was a hot spot characterized by a kind of technical adaptation that only transgressive, highly resourceful minds would think of.” The derelict pilings, twisted rebar, and chunks of broken concrete from the old Venice Pier gave surfers a new challenge. And when the winds died down and the waves stopped, the surfers tested the same challenging skills on land. Berms in elementary school playgrounds served as asphalt waves for testing new maneuvers. Severe drought in the 1970s resulted in empty backyard swimming pools and the Z-Boys converted these empty pools into proto-halfpipes until chased away by local security.

These waterless swimming pools and empty playgrounds created the aerial skateboarding that is practiced and perfected today.

“The bottom line is, all we wanted to do was skate,” said Z-Boy Wentzle Ruml. That changed when materialistic goals emerged, some of the Z-Boys became stars and millionaires because of their talents. As their stardom grew, the hot spot that was Dogtown went into decline. 

The spirit and soul of the Z-Boys and Dogtown are still prevalent in the area to this day, though skaters have traded the empty pools for the Venice Skate Park.

Author: Mariah Terry. www.mariahjterry.wix.com/reblogs