Archive for Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Z-Boys’ recalls early days of skateboarding

June 25, 2002

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Before the X Games, there were empty swimming pools. Before Tony Hawk, there was Stacy Peralta.

Peralta was a California teen-ager who in the early 1970s was among a group of kids who introduced the world to a new style of riding a skateboard. They were the Z-Boys, members of a skate team sponsored by California's Zephyr surfboard shop.

Skateboarder Tony Alva is shown in action in an empty swimming
pool. Alva is one of the extreme skateboarders chronicled in
"Dogtown and Z-Boys," a documentary directed by Stacy Peralta.

Skateboarder Tony Alva is shown in action in an empty swimming pool. Alva is one of the extreme skateboarders chronicled in "Dogtown and Z-Boys," a documentary directed by Stacy Peralta.

Today Peralta is a director, whose movie "Dogtown and Z-Boys" (rated PG-13) looks back at those early days. Here's what he had to say:

Did you have to make your own skateboards when you started skating?

It was the only way you could get one. I don't know where you could buy a skateboard. I had never purchased a skateboard in my life prior to 1974.

How did you make your skateboards?

You'd go to a thrift store. You'd pick out a pair of roller skates, hopefully ones that had a really good set of clay wheels. You'd go in on the pair of roller skates with a friend of yours, because you only needed one of them. You'd go together, it would probably cost you two bucks, and then you'd go to the lumberyard and buy a piece of pine, and you'd cut a board out in the shape of a little surfboard, and then you'd cut the skates in half and bolt them onto the board, and that was it. That was your skateboard, and so everybody's skateboard was very personal to that person, because they were homemade. They were like totems. That meant a lot. You'd draw on the bottom of them and stuff like that. That's how you skateboarded back then.

Back then, did you think that skateboarding would lead to anything?

No. At that time, everywhere we would go, we were told to leave. Our superiors and people at school said, "You'll give this up someday. This is just your phase with the hula hoop." So it wasn't something that you could share with people other than your close friends who skateboarded, because no one understood it. But we did, and it was our life and it was what drove us, and we were very committed to doing it.

Did the Zephyr team's style form the foundation of modern skating?

It seems to be that way. Because we were skaters who were brought up on all three forms of terrain: flat, banked and vertical. And hills. And we had this stuff in abundance in Los Angeles. We had so many banked playgrounds, and we had so many empty pools, that it enabled us to develop quicker than anybody else. So we were at the head of the gate before everybody else, and that's why we were there. I mean, a lot of things worked in our favor. Other people would have eventually done what we did, but we just did it first.

Any advice for kids starting out now?

Just follow your heart at all costs, in whatever you do in your life.

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