History of Dogtown
In 1971, Jeff Ho, Craig Stecyk III and Skip Englblom opened up a surf shop in Santa Monica. There was a heavy local surf contingent that didn’t mess around… the dilapidated
crumbling Pacific Ocean Park jutted out of the ocean and was a dangerous and heady place to surf. Nathan Pratt, Allen Sarlo, Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and Chris Cahill were on the surf team before a skate team existed. The wooden pilings of the pier were gnarly and the Zephyr Team surfers would spend the mornings tearing the place apart. It was not for the weak at heart. In the afternoons or on flat days, the surfers would skate around, do errands for the shop and hang out with each other. As skateboarding began to explode in popularity, the Zephyr Team began riding in contests. In 1975, the team expanded. Bob Biniak, Wentzle Ruml, Paul Constantineau, Jim Muir, Shogo Kubo and Peggy Oki were added to the roster and the Zephyr Team would be complete.
In 1975, the Del Mar Nationals took place. This skateboarding competition would show the world its first glimpse of a completely different type of skateboarding. Participants were doing 360 turns and handstands. When the Zephyr Team rode, people had no idea what they were doing. The skaters were pulling low turns and surf style cutbacks on the banked walls. They rode with a controlled cruelty that hadn’t been seen before. In the end, many of the Zephyr Team ended up on top. The world of tight shorts, 360s and headstands was quickly replaced by the Zephyr low slung surf style of that day.
As time marched on, everyone wanted a piece of the action. Money began to spill into the raw naked chasm that opened up around the Zephyr Team. Tony Alva went his own way and formed Alva Skates. Jay Adams had his Z-Flex model along, Stacy Peralta went with Gordon & Smith and ultimately ended the seventies by forming another influential team at Powell Peralta. Jim Muir and Paul Constantineau would form Dog Town Skates and Shogo Kubo had a model there as well. Bob Biniak spent time at Logan Earth Ski and carved out a solid reputation there. Zephyr exploded on the scene, changed everything and scattered to the four winds.
Without them, who knows where we’d be. Would time have eventually ushered in a new way of riding a skateboard? Would there have been another collection of greats that came together like an awesome force of nature? I’m unsure. I think these things happen once in a lifetime. They weren’t one in a million. They were one in two billion.
(Stories and images used by permission of Blue Tile Obsession / Ozzie Ausband)
Alan Sarlo grew up in Venice and his father was a lifeguard. He spent all of his time surfing and gathered a slew of surfing contest wins before he was old enough to drive a car.
Bob Biniak- Bob Biniak grew up in the Santa Monica area and was similarly situated to spend his time in the water surfing and the banked asphalt schoolyards of Los Angeles on his skateboard.
Chris Cahill- Grew up in Santa Monica and Venice. Chris always surfed in the area and skated and bombed hills with Jay Adams, Wentzl Ruml and Bob Biniak. Chris Cahill was an…
Jay Adams grew up in Venice and Santa Monica. He was always at the beach and in the water. Jay was a local surf rat. He approached skateboarding in a very unorthodox manner…
Jim Muir was born in Venice but grew up in Santa Monica. He started skateboarding in 1963. He surfed all over Santa Monica and Venice in his youth. At first, skateboarding…
Nathan Pratt was born in Venice Beach and moved to Mar Vista Hill at the age of five. There he rode the hills and schoolyards with classmate Stacy Peralta…
Paul was born in Canada and moved to the Santa Monica area of Los Angeles when he was ten years old. He eventually fell in with the locals and would surf and skate. He was…
Peggy Oki grew up in West Los Angeles. She started surfing and skating early in life. While attending Santa Monica City College, she met Jay Adams and he took her to the Zephyr…
Shogo Kubo was born in Japan and came to the United States when he was young. He took to skateboarding around the age of twelve and met Jay Adams…
Stacy Peralta was born in Venice and graduated from high school there. He rode for the Z-flex team but then moved on to Gordon & Smith. Later, he co-founded Powell Peralta…
Tony Alva is a child of Santa Monica. As usual, he surfed and when it was flat, he’d go skateboarding. Tony had a unique style and power that others lacked and is widely…
Wentzl Ruml began skating when he was fifteen years old. He was best friends with Bob Biniak. They’d surf in the mornings and end up taking the bus to skate at Paul Revere…
Dog Bowl. Santa Monica. Summer 1977. David Hackett, Shogo Kubo, Jay Adams, Bob Biniak, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Stan Sharp on the deck. Four of seven. I look at this shallow end lineup and find it difficult to believe that four of these guys have slid away from the sun…
The Search for Tony Alva
The freeway was a blur of chrome and metal. Rushing. Frenetic movement. Everyone hurtling to nowhere. Tony Alva and I nimbly moved through traffic. We were going to skate a pool. As reggae music washed over us, I idly wondered just how many times in his life, TA has been in exactly the same situation…
Jay Adams Last Words
It has been almost two years since Jay Adams left us. He passed August 15, 2014. He carved away from the sun. He didn’t look back. We don’t know why… The finality of someone leaving us is difficult to grasp. The void. Jay Adams was a remarkable light in the world…
Pebble in a pond. We’ve heard it all before… a ripple rolls out and makes contact, developing momentum until it washes a wave into the future. Its hard to quantify the influence that the Zephyr Team unleashed on youth culture. I think the reason is simple. Its ongoing. How can one calculate the sum of something…