The site of the former Pacific Ocean Park in the beach district on the border between Venice and Santa Monica is something of a sacred legend within the skateboarding and surfing community. The area, nicknamed Dogtown, was immortalized in the 2001 skateboard documentary, Dogtown and Z-Boys, and later in the 2005 feature film, Lords of Dogtown, which was based on the characters and events featured in Dogtown and Z-Boys. .
Dogtown and Z-Boys, directed by Stacy Peralta (a member of the original Z-Boys) and narrated by Hollywood star Sean Penn, tells the story of skateboarding. The documentary traces the story of a group of teenage surfers/skateboarders in Santa Monica, known as the Z-Boys, and their influence on the history of skateboarding (and to a lesser extent surf) culture, using a mix of the Z-Kids filmed in the 1970s and interviews conducted more recently.
The air and slide skateboarding moves invented by the Z-Boys were the foundation of air skateboarding and surfing that are still popular today. These were just twelve ordinary teenagers hanging out in the Dogtown neighborhood of Santa Monica who just wanted to surf and skate. They could never have known that they would start a revolution by turning what was a recreational hobby into an extreme sport.
Considered the most influential skate team in history, the Z-Boy movement continues to this day as an expression of performance, innovation, and style.
Officially known as the Zephyr Skateboard Team, the Z-Boys got their start when they transferred their surfing skills into drainpipes and empty swimming pools with surprising results. His acrobatic maneuvers inspired generations of teenagers to join the skateboarding frenzy and catapulted them to fame and fortune; most of the original Z-Boys went on to compete professionally. Bob “Bullet” Biniak retired from skating in 1980 but went on to play golf professionally, while the only female member of the Z-Boys, Peggy Oki, rejected skating in favor of surfing and has competed in surfing contests all over the world. the world. . Jim Muir and Tony Alva turned down deals from major skateboarding companies to strike out on their own and were the first skateboarders to do so.
In 2005, Stacy Peralta wrote the screenplay for Lords of Dogtown, which dramatically recounts the days of Dogtown. Starring Heath Ledger and Rebecca De Mornay, and featuring a cameo from Tony Hawk, perhaps the world’s most famous modern figure skater, Lords of Dogtown focused more on the relationships between the Z-Boys, looking at their friendships, how they coped with fame and how they became increasingly competitive with each other. It also focused heavily on the tragic loss of Z-Boy’s partner Sid, who lost his battle with brain cancer.
Skaters or surfers eager to make a pilgrimage to legendary and iconic Dogtown can find a hotel in Santa Monica for their lodging needs, and thankfully, the area has come a long way since the days of Dogtown.
The story of Dogtown and Z-Boys is an inspiring story of determination, rebellion, and friendship, and even those who have no interest in skateboarding or surfing have earned this fascinating little piece of American subculture.