Skating Culture Thrives in Santa Ana

Illustration by Edgar Ornelas / el Don
Illustration by Edgar Ornelas / el Don
Illustration by Edgar Ornelas / el Don

By Jose Servin

Centennial Skate Park in Santa Ana is only empty when it rains.

“Even then, you can always find us inside parking garages and indoor parks,” Santa Ana skater Bryce Pagter said.

In the 1970s the Z-Boys of Santa Monica and Venice revolutionized the sport by incorporating stylistic surfing moves. The skate punk movement in the 1980s, propelled by Orange County bands like Agent Orange and the Adolescents, gave skate culture an edge. Skating is an integral part of Southern California.

Today, the culture thrives in Santa Ana at Centennial Skate Park and Vans Skate Park at the Outlets of Orange.

“Centennial is where most local skaters start off,” said Santa Ana College student Aaron Moctezuma. “It’s a community of homies where you can always skate and not worry about getting kicked out.”

Benches, rails, planters and most anything to grind or jump make for prime skate spots.

“One of my favorite places to skate is the parking lot under Mendez,” said Jordan Lastic, a skater who worked at Vans Skate Park.

Skaters form a tight community united through the music, clothes and films that have been inspired by the sport.

Local brands like Volcom and Vans market their clothing to skaters, while rappers like Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell have attracted fans with metaphors in songs.

Pagter describes a recent visit to Brazil as “amazing” because of his ability to connect with the skaters there, despite not speaking any Portuguese.

“Skating is a form of expression that gives people a different outlook on life. Even in a country where I didn’t speak the language, the skaters there treated me like family,” Pagter said.

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He’s built a career filming skaters around the world for companies like Grizzly Grip Tape, Key Street and Ous. Even while filming, he skates, coasting slowly next to his subject, holding his camera steady as he immortalizes flips, grinds and jumps.

“When I’m shooting, I never see dollar signs. I don’t see it as a job, it’s a passion,” Pagter said.

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