10+ california on wheels: amazing pictures of the golden age of skating
Skating and Roller Skating became a huge hit around the world in the late seventies and the beginning of the eighties, and California was the place that saw them grow and succeed. The streets of Los Ángeles, where the sun is always on top, were full of young skaters in bikinis, bathing suits and tank tops, showing off their bodies, their skills and their grace. Venice Beach became the World's Skating Capital, and its famous boardwalk help to build that legend. We gathered fifty photos that are truly amazing and that show how the skating world was back then, and I'm sure you will want to buy some roller skates and travel to sunny California.
Venice Beach is one of the most vibrant areas of Los Angeles. It is full of young artists, musicians, bohemians and those who are in constant search of freedom and happiness.
Venice Beach was originally built as a complex that imitated the italian city of Venice. It even have canals and gondolas to make the full experience. Then it was attached to Los Angeles city.
Roller skating became a huge hit in the late seventies and early eighties, but it was not something new: The first ever recorded use of a roller skates goes all the way back to 1743.
Just like the rest of Los Angeles City, and especially because of its narrow streets, Venice Beach is known for its intense and infernal traffic. Something that can be quickly forgotten if you put on some skates.
Dorothy Stratten was the Playmate of the Year in 1980. Here we can see her skating with Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, a few months before her husband killed her when she was just 20 years old.
Venice Beach is known for its eclectic and bizarre soul, and there's no place as bizarre and eclectic as The Boardwalk. It is part a carnival and part a vibrant city center, and when you visit it you'll never know what you may find.
THE PERFECT PLACE
And that Boardwalk is what made roller skating so great. The pavement that goes all the way through the beach has been the perfect environment for roller skating to grow and become a success.
THE RECREATION CENTER
The Venice Beach Recreation Center is a place full of sports and athletes. It is the place where basketball players, bodybuilders and skaters go to show off their amazing skills.
There was a drought in the seventies that emptied the pools, ditches, fountains and artificial lakes and turned them into a cool spot for skaters to learn and show off their talents.
Venice Beach was built in 1905 by a tobacco millionaire that wanted to make, as we said, the Venice of America, and so he did. There were actually more canals, but when the cars became popular they were filled and turned into streets, the streets where people skates.
Roller Skating was so popular back then, that in 1979 a movie called "Roller Boogie" was premiered, starred by Linda Blair and Mark L. Lester, and it is set in Los Angeles.
And two hits of the time came together to create The Roller Disco, where people wore their skates to dance to the latest disco beats. There are few still open.
Roller Disco were so popular that a movie called Skatetown U.S.A., about two skaters and a competition in a roller disco called Skatetown U.S.A., it was Patrick Swayze first movie role.
Another classical movie of the Roller Skating era is Xanadu, where Olivia Newton John plays a skater that hides a magical truth. It is quite bizarre but it became a cult classic.
Skateboarding was born in the seventies in California as an alternative to surfing. If you think about it, a skateboard is nothing but a surfboard with wheels, and most of the movements and tricks imitates the ones made in the waves.
The first Skateboarding competition was held in California in 1963, but skateboarding was quite different back then. They did "freestyle", and it looked more like a dancing or roller skating competition.
In 1965 people began to forget about roller skating, and everyone thought that the practice was dead, like a lot of other inventions of the era, such as hula hoops.
THE NEW ERA
But then in 1972 a new type of wheel was created, the one that is still used, and everyone began to practice skateboarding again. Young people were crazy about skateboards.
And with this rebirth a new style was born. In 1975 in Del Mar, California, a new contest was held, and a whole new way of skating (the one we know now) arise.
By 1980 skateboarding was so popular that almost every young person in the world practiced it, since there were no limitations regarding weather, geography or social economical reality. All you needed was a board (often homemade) and a hard floor.
And that's how almost every public space in the world (And especially in California) became a skateboarding field. People would gather in parks, squares, highways, routes and under bridges to practice and contest.
THE BEGINNING OF ROLLER DERBY
Roller Derby was first born as a roller skating marathon (similar to the dancing ones), where contestants would spend days roller skating on an oval field. The last one standing was the winner.
THE CURRENT ROLLER DERBY
Roller Derby was never a big hit, and it actually saw its fall in 1975, during the roller skating smash, contrary of what you may think. It had its new rise in the 2000's.
The members of Skate Patrols were (and are) professional skaters that would teach the newbies how to skate, especially how to heel break. There's a National Skate Patrol that has offices in several cities of the United States.
The International Skating Federation has its headquarters in Switzerland and it regulates all the different forms of skating, including roller, skateboarding, hockey and speedskating. It was founded in 1924 and it's called FIRS.
A DRAMATIC START
The first recorded inventor of the roller skates was a belgian that wanted to enter a celebration riding roller skates and playing the violin. He didn't practice that much so you probably know how it all ended up.
Skating Carhops were a big success in 1960's, and the trend survived through the rest of the twentieth century. There's still a bunch of Drive-in restaurants that keep the tradition.
And there is one chain of those restaurants, called Sonic, that holds an annual competition of car-hopping, to select the fastest and skillful skating carhop from one of their 3500 restaurants.
Almost every major city in the United States have its own roller skating style. These styles were developed during the fever of 1970 and still remain and are practiced nowadays.
HELL ON WHEELS
Cher contributed to the roller skating fever. In 1970 she released a song called "Hell on Wheels", and it became a huge hit among the roller skaters and in the roller discos.
This must be surprising for you, but roller skates and skateboards are often used by the youth of Amish communities. They can't use any form of technology and even bikes are forbidden, but not skates.
The Ollie is the most popular skateboarding trick and it is the base of all others. It consist in "simply" jump with the board without holding it with your hands.
More than 80,000 people visit a doctor after a skateboarding injury every year. The most common injury is in the wrists, a spot that is usually forgotten by the skaters.
Since its beginnings skateboarding has been a sport preferred by the young. The average age of skateboarders is twelve, the youngest being just two years old and the eldest sixty seven years old.
Skateboarding is now the most used way of transport among the college students around the world, and especially in California. It is due to the costs of car maintenance and the traffic.
ADULT AND CHILDREN
After the disco boom most adults quit using roller skating and skates became more popular among kids. Now seventy percent of all roller skaters are between the ages of seven and fifteen.
Some studies say that indoor roller skating (one of the most popular ways of practicing rollerskating nowadays) is three times safer than playing football or basketball and two times safer than a playground.
You burn 350 calories in an hour skating at 6 mph and 600 skating at 10mph, the same as one hour of squats. And skating hurts the joints 50% less than running.
Roller skating is one of the most popular ways of celebrating a birthday in the United States. The Roller Skating Association says that its members rinks host about half million birthdays a year.
Tom Sims was one of the pioneers in the skateboarding world, and he is said to be one of the creators of snowboarding. He was World's Skateboarding Champion of 1975.
He is the most popular and one of the best skateboarders in the world. He was born in San Diego, California in 1968 and he began skating after his brother gave him a skateboard when he was nine.
Patti McGee, born in 1945, was the first winner of Women's National Skateboarding Competition in 1965 and the first ever female skater to be included in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.
Longboard was born in 1955, but it was never a big success like its brother skateboarding and its cousin roller skating. Longboarders were known for its freedom of mind and the craziness of their tricks.
SURFING WITHOUT WAVES
Longboarders were surfers that wanted to surf even when the waves were too small, so they grab actual surfboards and put them wheels. The boards were often homemade, the first industrialised ones were made in the nineties.
Ellen O'Neal was recently included to the Skateboard Hall of Fame. She was the queen of skateboard tricks and she also did some stunts in TV Shows like Wonder woman.
Quad rollers were first made by a french guy for her ballerinas to perform in an Opera. They are made in several styles, from the professional ones to the casual ones, that imitate street shoes.
Roller Hockey was born due to the need to play regular ice hockey in summer and when there's no ice rink available. It was tested in the summer olympics of Barcelona 1992 but it wasn't very popular.
Like most skateboarding pioneers, G&S was born as a surf shop. By 1977, when this picture was taken, they were the leaders of skateboards selling, with more of 500 skateboards sold monthly.
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