Reimagining Surf City: Surfing and the making of the post-apartheid beach in South Africa

Thompson G. (2011)


South African surfing as a sporting activity has a history located in the waves that break at the beach, the seaward edge of a coastal city. In this history, surfing has been represented as a white sport and as such Surf City was a symbolic marker for racial exclusivity on the apartheid beach (1960s-80s). This idea of Surf City has changed in the post-apartheid era (1990s-2000s), with the beach open to all persons, irrespective of race. However, there is a persistence of race at the post-apartheid beach as surfing as a sporting lifestyle undergoes transformation. In seeking to understand the effect of the apartheid past on the present, this article reviews sources from within surfing culture and available secondary literature to explore the apartheid beach. It highlights the shift to racial inclusivity in the waves and the challenges of sports transformation in the new South Africa. The article offers contextual notes towards the writing of the history of black experiences of the beach and surfing, and points to some reconfigurations of Surf City in South Africa. © 2011 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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