It’s tough being constantly reminded that we are entering the fifth consecutive year of one of the worst droughts California has ever seen. When we think of drought, we think of devastation to crops and lack of natural resources, but we must appreciate one thing drought has brought us: bowl skating.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but the drought of 1976-77 aligned harmoniously with the rise of skateboarding. This two-year devastation accounted for the 1st and 4th driest years in California history. So in effort to conserve water, swimming pools were being emptied all throughout Southern California. And with that, emerging skaters like Tony Alva, Steve Olson, and the late Jay Adams were jumping fences and skating empty pools.
At the time, these kids were considered criminals. Now, they’re pioneers in skateboarding. But no one was better known for their dedication to the cause quite like Steve Alba. Known as the Godfather of Pool Skating, he was the originator of finding pools, cleaning pools, and shredding until the cops came. “The generation that I grew up skating in was one that already had skateparks established, but Steve Alba came from the true empty swimming pool era,” said Tony Hawk. “So he was the one hopping fences, draining pools, and things like that.”
Of course these great people made bowl skating happen, but what if California weren’t in a severe drought back then? We might not have truly appreciated how great pools are for riding skateboards. We could have completely lost out on an entire category of skating. Furthermore, bowl skating assisted the evolution of vert and big air skating, ways of riding that we simply may not have known about had it not been for a ragtag bunch of kids from Dogtown and an unfortunate drought in the 1970s.
But luckily we do live in a world where bowl skating is king and the Zephyr boys its creator. Now that we’re suffering in a similar drought, it’s time to once again conserve water and skate those empty pools. Or you can call Tony Alva and his friends, they’ll totally come shred your pool.