Skate Culture

Skateboarding in Empty Pools

Pool skating is something I’ve been thinking of a lot for a long while now. For me, it is my holy grail of skateboarding. I’m not suggesting that other forms of skating are somehow second rate — far from it. The rise of half-pipes and, of course, street skating, contain all sorts of benefits and plenty of their own stoke. Who can imagine skate history without thinking of its surfing roots and the banks of Paul Revere middle school in Santa Monica for example? Or, for that matter, of Natas Kaupas and Lance Mountain’s employment of virtually anything and everything in their path on the street? Who also cannot think of greats like Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi battling it out on half-pipes? All of this serves to enrich skate culture and shows its diversity of mediums and styles; a diversity that lends it strength. So many other pursuits are, by contrast, fairly uniform in how they must be approached; a single surface or style, a single context. But skateboarding is not contingent upon anything other than a hard surface beneath your feet and board, and whether that surface is flat or curved, all are equally useable as surfaces upon which to create, skate and innovate. What form that surface takes merely changes how you might approach a particular skate session — or, on the other hand, perhaps not!

Natas Kaupas, wallie (detail). Natas showed that you could even use the hard surface of a vertical wall upon which to skate. Photograph by Craig Stecyk, used for the cover of Thrasher Magazine, Sept. 1984. Street skating at its finest.


Jay Adams, bank skating. These banks approximated a wave. I wish more schools had these sorts of banks.


Jay Adams pool skating. Photographed by Glen E. Friedman


Tony Alva pool skating. Tony’s style, whether on a bank or in a pool, was perhaps the most graceful and stylish of all.

So I am speaking very personally here when I say that, for me [sic], pool skating is my holy grail of skateboarding. I’m not saying it is “the best,” merely that it is my grail. Why is in part because of the lines that can be carved in a pool — and one can perhaps get no better sense of this than by watching legends and masters like Tony Alva or Jay Adams skate a pool.

Pool skating has a certain three-dimensionality about it. It is hard to describe what I mean by this. It is not a matter of an ‘x’ or a ‘y’ axis; rather is it that and everything in between. Insofar as that is the case, a pool can be so very fluid and filled with so much potentiality.

I wanted to share a couple of videos here today on this subject of pool skating, both coming from Vans. Enjoy. (If you want to read more about pool skating, I’d highly recommend Blue Tile Obsession and Empty Pools.)

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