The Death of Skate Culture

The rise and fall of skating at NHHS


Back in 2019, one would drive past North Hollywood High School, only to notice the front entrance littered with skateboarders—and that’s what it was known for. 

Our very own Colfax staircase became a staple for young skaters in the Los Angeles valley (and beyond). Many talented skaters would frequent it, creating a spot aside from the local skatepark to socialize. This created a tight-knit community of skaters who supported each other.

An NHHS student even starred in a popular skate movie, Mid90s, which garnered media attention after its release in 2018. Then, in 2021, North Hollywood was released, marking the city as an iconic symbol in skate culture. 

Do you ever wonder what happened to all those skaters? Why has a community that once seemed so crucial to the culture of our school suddenly disappeared? 

Skateboarding initially gained popularity in the 1950s-60s in places like California, where surfing was already trending. It wasn’t until 1962, when the first Val Surf store opened in Hollywood, California, that skateboards became accessible to the public.

With a rich history here in the valley, one can imagine how easy it is to become engrossed in skateboarding. “I first started skating in like 7th or 8th grade. I always had a skateboard, but never used it,” explains senior Nathan Burkett, “Then, when a lot of my homies started skating or taking it seriously, I started doing it, too.”

Skating was especially popular on the NHHS campus. It caused people to pay more attention to NHHS and enticed students to attend it. “I like skate culture; it’s the main reason I switched to this school. When I first started going here, everyone would always skate in the front, but recently, there’s no one there,” shares Burkett.

With how apparent the entrance’s newfound emptiness is, students wonder why skaters don’t gather there nowadays. Burkett provides his insight: “The main reason, I think, is because of the gym. Skateboarding was just something fun and active to do, and now the gym has replaced it because working out is the new trend, I guess.”

While some replaced their boards with lifting weights, others stopped skating for different reasons. “I think skating lost its popularity (at least in NHHS) over the years since skating is a team sport,” shares Andy De Luca, an SAS senior. “When Covid hit, and everyone had to quarantine and stay home, many lost the opportunity to skate with friends. For them, it just turned into a grind of trying the same trick repeatedly with no one to cheer them on.”

For many, skating became more than just a sport; it was a way to socialize and develop a support system. De Luca reveals, “I like to call myself a social person, but skating really taught me how to talk to people I don’t know. I would stay after school to skate, and people would come up to me — whether teachers, students, or other skaters — and cheer me on. As this kept occurring, my social circle got a bit bigger. Talking to people that I didn’t know became so common that I eventually treated random people like my closest friends.”

Skating helped many teenagers gain not only friends but lifelong memories. “Skateboarding brought many people into my life who I appreciate and helped shape me into who I am now,” explains senior Jacob Acuna, “Before, I spent most of my weekends inside, but skating got me outside more. The people I skated with and I would go on ‘missions’ to different skateparks that took us hours to travel to without a car. It showed me there were more things out there than what’s in front of me; I just had to look for it.”

Some wish that NHHS would show support for its skate community. Acuna shares, “Our school even frowns upon the idea of skating altogether, forcing students to lock up their boards. Instead of nurturing this sport that many students enjoy, they punish them for it. This could also be a contributing factor to its decline.”

Although skating is not as popular anymore at school, it continues to play a significant role in many people’s lives. Acuna states, “I truly believe that if I hadn’t picked up a board, I wouldn’t be the same as I am now.”

Outside of North Hollywood High School, skate culture persists as both a trend and a passion for many. LA has always been a hub for skate culture, and it probably always will be; therefore, it’s hard to imagine the sport ever going out of style. It is the ambition, devotion, and solidarity of skaters that many greatly admire.