19 January 2008

CityZine Article #2

Aloha To You Too, Grand Poo Bah!

Imagine yourself sitting out in the lineup on a warm July morning. Much to your chagrin, L.A. is in the middle of another flat spell. There is almost no swell in the water. You paddle out anyway to catch what few thigh high waves might roll through. Watching the horizon, you laugh to yourself because you know no one will yell “Outside!” during this session. It’s calm and quiet, a good day to enjoy the beauty of your local break.

Then you see something strange out of the corner of your eye. Was that Santa Claus? Shaking your head, you wonder why anyone would buy a red wetsuit and imagine the Santa Claus jokes that guy will endure wherever he goes surfing. The quiet is now broken by the sound of laughter and many arms paddling out to the lineup. What the hell? You finally turn around . . . and there are no words to describe what’s paddling toward you.

There are, in fact, three words for the event: Doo Dah Surf. Costumes. Surfboards. Laughter. Party waves. The beauty of the Doo Dah Surf is its freedom from the constraints of the often rigid rules that exist in the water. What began in 2002 as an attempt by several surfers to inject fun into L.A.’s hostile lineups eventually morphed into a large-scale celebration of the Aloha Spirit. The 2007 edition of the Doo Dah Surf saw participants dressed in costumes that baffled both the onlookers and the other costumed surfers. A typical conversation in the lineup involved speculation as to how others were able to surf in those costumes.

How the Grand Poo Bah (Barry Hackett) was able to surf without losing the headdress remains a mystery. It is probably the reason why he won the Doo Daher’s Choice Award. The costumes, as it turns out, are only a small part of the Doo Dah Surf experience. One thing you notice about the surfers who participate is that they are always doing one of two things—smiling or laughing. The waves, the surfing, the surf etiquette are secondary to the fun. When a wave comes, everyone goes. There’s no calling someone off a wave at the Doo Dah Surf.

The party wave then culminates in boards crashing and bodies flying. People nonetheless paddle back out with smiles on their faces as they adjust their wigs or look for wayward pieces of clothing floating somewhere in the water. Yes, Timmy, there really is Aloha Spirit in the L.A. breaks. You just have to know where to find it.


At 1/20/08, 3:45 AM, Blogger Beach Bum said...

Hi SS, any chance you could email me that background pic you use of the lifeguard tower - I'm collating stuff on towers for a future post. There's a button on the RHS of my site that will allow you to email me direct. Keep well (and great hair btw!)- thx for the linl ;)

At 1/24/08, 9:22 PM, Blogger Sharkbait said...

Re: first picture:
I think we found Waldo.


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