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Bombs versus Boards: The Rise of Surf Culture in Southern California


Just like the testing in the Marshall Islands, the clean cut wholesomeness of American culture in the 1950’s were coming to and end. The music market was dealing with two very opposite trends that focused on two entirely different themes. If the keywords of folk music were “honesty, authenticity, sincerity, freedom, and brotherhood” the key words of surf music were found in the title of the 1964 Beach Boys hit “Fun Fun Fun” Just as folk music was at the center of a subculture, with its norms of dress, language and behavior, so surfing music was also at the heart of its own subculture. The center of the culture was southern California,  and as the popularity of the music spread across the country more would be surfers from Iowa, Nebraska, or even Maine were created. These Midwestern surfers acquired deep tans, bleached their hair blonde, put on their sandals and cutoffs, waxed down their boards and revved up their Impalas, T-birds or Corvettes. The fact that the largest nearby body of water may have been the country swimming pool was hardly a consideration. Unlike the folkers, the surfers deepest social concern was whether the local drugstore would run out of suntan oil.