Let’s roll back to the 1960’s when a couple of surfers in California realized that they had nothing to do when the waves were flat out at the beach. They created a device that allowed them to surf on land, and they called it “side surfing” (surfing on the sidewalk). These surfers took roller skate wheels and attached them to a piece of wood. As a result, they invented the modern day skateboard.
Skateboarding, since the beginning, has been more than just a mode of transportation. It has its own culture. Since its inception in the 1960’s, skateboarding culture has blossomed from a small subculture to large market with nearly five billion dollars in social revenue, according to the New Yorker. From performing kick-flips with friends at the skatepark to the hundreds of skate brands to milling around at the Vans Warped Tour, skating is a phenomenon.
Like surfing, skating offers a sense of freedom. For some, it’s a way to relax when stressed. It gives people time to think when they need to.
“When I’m just out of it and the day is coming to an end, skating helps me forget about my problems. It’s just a mindless activity,” junior Gary Ekmekjian said.
Though many people think skateboarding would cause anxiety since you are either traveling at fast speeds on sometimes uneven sidewalks or attempting to do somewhat dangerous tricks, for people like Ekmekjian, skating is soothing experience.
Because of all of these elements, skateboarding has become more than just a way to get from here to there. It has become a culture in itself. For instance, skater fashion now thrives all over the United States. Skater fashion typically includes Dickies pants, Vans skate shoes, and graphic t-shirts by brands such as Thrasher and Santa Cruz. Thrasher is actually a monthly magazine, but the logo has become so popular on shirts that its origin is obscure. This simple and comfortable style influenced by late 20th century skaters continues to draw in people in our generation, even those who don’t skate.
“With Vans, most kids wear them even if they don’t skate, but the brand originally started as shoes for skaters. It would offer all things needed to make a good skate shoe. However, its moved on beyond that and has become a fashion staple. The same could be said about Thrasher. You see dozens of people at school wearing the clothing brand despite the fact that its [originally] a skating magazine,” junior Giselle Gutierrez said.
Initially skater style was influenced by the techniques skaters use in their sport. Their choice in thick pants including corduroy, denim, and the material used to make pants like Dickies help protect them from scraping their skin or hurting themselves. Shoes like Vans and Converse give skaters extra support to prevent the shoe from ripping easily and offer flexibility to complete tricks and ride with ease. And although most skaters wear a plain t-shirt to skate, graphic tees are simply a cool accent to their outfit.
Skating culture is also very tied to music. Although traditionally, skaters have been drawn to rock and alternative music, lately skaters have branched out to genres like Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, or Indie.
“As for music, hard rap is what is mostly associated with skating in my opinion. Most skate videos include rap in the background too, but you can skate to whatever music you like,” said junior Joseph Protiva.
While most would not associate skating with hard core rap, there are certainly skaters like Protiva who are pushing the culture’s boundaries.
Over time, skateboarding culture became a part of the larger culture, bringing in people who skate and those who don’t. And although to some, skateboarding is just considered an activity to do when you’re bored, skating culture is so much more than that with its rich history and impact on the larger society.