Lords of Dogtown

This movie, set in 1970’s California, tells the story of Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay Adams, as they make the transition from surfing into the world of skateboarding. Set in Venice, the movie draws relevance to the grittier parts of Los Angeles, where the boys live in rougher and poorer neighborhoods than those usually portrayed in movies. They refer to Venice as Dogtown, and states that Dogtown is “the ghetto by the sea”.

The movie does have elements of historical relevance to Los Angeles. In the very beginning of the movie, Jay can be seen skating through a street filled with broken furniture and trash, jumping over homeless people on his way to go surf by the Pacific Ocean Park pier. The pier is said to be a symbol of “L.A.’s urban decay” and is a big element of contrast to the way people normally perceive Los Angeles. The movie also tells the story of how the historical drought in the 70’s caused people to drain their pools, which led skaters to skate the empty pools to imitate surfing and the shape of waves.   

In the movie, the boys become part of a competition team through their local surf shop Zephyr, run by Skip Engblom. The boys create names for themselves, and after some drama between the team and Engblom, the boys go their separate ways. Tony Alva gets a generous offer and creates Alva Skates. He then goes on to become a professional skater, and the first ever world champion. Stacy joins G&S but later goes on to create the brand Powell-Peralta, be considered the best skater in the world, and discover Tony Hawk. Jay gets a failed partnership and eventually stops skating; he is, however, today considered to be “the spark that ignited the sport – the original seed”.

I really love this movie, and I think it’s crazy to see just how much skating has evolved since then. Powell-Peralta was also the first ever old school deck I bought, and it’s pretty sick with the rails and old school tail, so I love seeing this sort of backstory. I also think it’s pretty funny how Tony Hawk plays an astronaut meeting Stacy in the movie, when in real life Stacy actually discovered Tony Hawk when Tony was 14 and Stacy considered to be the best skater in the world. Highly recommended! Another great skateboarding movie by the way is Gleaming the Cube, who also happens to have one of the best soundtracks in the history of soundtracks. Worth checking out if you’re into 80’s skateboard movies!

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