This essay examines skateboarding as an architectural act of pleasure that allows
private spaces in cities to be appropriated for alternative uses. In particular, the
appropriation of swimming pools by skateboarders will be explored, from the renegade
to the officially sanctioned, to explore socio-political aspects of space. The film
Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Peralta, 2001) provides a primary source for this examination, and will be
used as a vehicle through which to examine these issues, particularly in Los Angeles.
Recent appropriations of swimming pools in New York will provide a secondary reference.
In Dogtown and Z-Boys, swimming pools form a playground in which skaters in 1970s Los Angeles re-appropriated
urban space for their own use. This paper will argue that the appropriation of swimming
pools by skateboarders has provided a viable venue for alternative uses of the city
that include both play and dissent. By framing the history of swimming pools in late
20th century America, a case will be presented for how skateboarders’ appropriation of
swimming pools in 1970s Los Angeles can provide clues to continual opportunities for
alternative configurations and uses of twenty-first century urban space.