13 Urban Guerilla Playfare, or Skating through Empty Cinematic Pools in Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
To view the empty swimming pools of 1970s Los Angeles in the film Dogtown and Z-Boys (Stacy Peralta, 2001) is to take part in a unique reconfiguration of urban space. This essay attempts to examine how the empty swimming pools of 1970s Los Angeles are viewed on film – in relationship to the appropriation of McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn, New York during the 2000s – and strives to situate the swimming pool as a unique urban and cinematic space. The essay proposes to examine the pools in the film as a space within the space of the cinema. In turn, the cinema lies within the city, which is also a unique space, and which contains the pools that are filmed (and watched) in the cinemas of those cities. This essay considers the implications of such a spatial relationship when viewing Dogtown and Z-Boys. In doing so, the essay suggests that the viewing of cinematic swimming pools in Dogtown and Z-Boys acts as a prototype for the acquisition, repurposing and alterations of urban space – or urban guerilla ‘playfare’ – that cinema in general offers the viewer.
The massive concrete playground alluded to in the film’s epigraph, which reads, ‘two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential (Craig Stecyk, 1975)’ is mostly composed of empty swimming pools, whose open, inviting fixtures proved fertile playgrounds...
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