Sidewalk Surfing Along

This project has been a fun learning experience for me. I set out wanting to find out about the skate culture in the Bay Area. I found that things aren’t that simple. History doesn’t just divide itself into neat little categories that are easy to research. Youth culture, adolescent cliques, parks and recreation and so many other things have been intertwined with the history of skating that trying to pick out what I want has been difficult, at best. I still don’t know when skating first became popular in the Bay and I only know some of the local names involved like Steve Caballero, a pro skater from Campbell.

Thrasher Magazine’s Icon. Retrieved from the magazine’s pictures on last.fm.

Thrasher Magazine started here in the Bay Area, but their focus is global. They cover skateboarding around the world, discussing pro skaters, their styles and types of terrain from Japan to Germany to Brazil and their contrasts to the styles and terrains used here in the US. So, even though Thrasher started out as a local magazine, their scope has grown substantially since then.

I’ve tried to find newspaper articles and other primary sources that would try to bring a closer understanding to the timeline of events concerning the skateboard culture and its migration, but haven’t had that kind of luck. As I mentioned in my first blog, the events surrounding the Dogtown Boys in southern California have been pretty well documented. In fact, Stacy Peralta himself directed a documentary about those events called “Dogtown and Z-Boys.”

Unfortunately, the migration of the skate culture from southern California to the Bay Area, or to anywhere else for that matter, remains a mystery to me. Throughout history when a distinct culture moves from one place to another, there has been some way of tracing that movement. I don’t know if the divergence from this typical pattern in skate culture could be linked to media coverage or other aspects of modern society, but it seems that once this culture became popular in the southern part of California, emulators popped up everywhere. There was no traceable migration…at least none that I can find. Even now there have been a lot of skaters in the Bay Area that have gotten their skill directly from So. Cal. Students that I’ve talked to at East Bay have said that they either moved here from that region or learned to skate from someone who did. I don’t know if this indicates a continued migration of the skate culture or creates more complexity in the issue. In the 1960s and 1970s when the culture took off, people all over the US picked up the sport. As Carlsbad, California was building a skate park in 1976, Jacksonville, Florida was also building a skate park. The customary time for migration of the culture was not present, yet here in the Bay, people are still having this culture brought to them from elsewhere thirty-five years later. This is only here in the US. I haven’t the mental capacity to try and consider other countries into this equation.

Regardless of my inability to find the specific answers I was looking for, this project has been rewarding and enjoyable. In fact, I intend to continue the blog with other pages and new projects. Another classmate and I have already made tentative plans to begin a research project together. Professor Ivey has given us a great outline to follow to conduct that research. From here, anything is possible.