The first time I went to Venice Beach the people were so different and the place was so amazing, that I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about it! It was a Saturday and the boardwalk was crowded with all different kinds of people—teenagers and adults. There were people whizzing by on skateboards and walking their dogs. On one side of me there were dozens of vendors selling everything from $1 friendship bracelets to intricate paintings and posters, and on the other side were tattoo and piercing parlors and hole-in-the-wall food places. A man with dreadlocks and a tie-dye shirt skated by playing an electric guitar while another guy was pulling a cart that was blasting reggae children’s songs like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”
My friends and I go to Venice Beach, which is between Santa Monica and the Los Angeles airport, about once every three or four months. I live in the Valley and if I can’t get there by car, I can always take the bus. Unlike the mall, you don’t need a lot of money to have fun. Plus there are interesting people, street performers, handmade products and amazing weather all year round.
My friends and I usually stay for a few hours and we can spend anything from just $2 on a slice of pizza and a soda, to as much as $30 on food, plus a painting, incense and handmade jewelry.
One Saturday in December I went with my friend Sophia. We started out by getting henna tattoos (temporary tattoos that last for a few weeks) from “Dennis from Venice, the free Henna Man.” He told us that he believes in doing henna for the sake of the art and not the money, but he gladly accepts donations. (I gave him $5.) I got a butterfly on my wrist and Sophia got a Native American animal on hers. Then we walked along the boardwalk checking out all the vendors. I bought a pair of earrings and $1 incense. Along the way we even saw the house that the America’s Next Top Model cast stayed in during their most recent season! Then we got $1 pizza slices. We ate our pizza at the skate park where we saw a little girl skateboard better than any of the older guys who were there.
The recreation center on the beach hosts basketball tournaments, which are interesting to watch. Next to the courts is an outdoor gym called Muscle Beach. There are always weightlifters with huge muscles.
Often there are breakdancers or street performers who are cool to see. Sophia and I saw a crowd of people surrounding a small, muscular, shirtless man. I didn’t know what was happening, but the crowd was big so I decided to take a look. He explained how he was going to do his trick, which was to flip over eight people, lined up and bent over. After he gathered the group of children, he told everyone to stay in school and stay off drugs. Then he flipped over them, which was absolutely incredible to watch!
The best part about Venice Beach is that no matter what you’re into, you can always find something. It is one the most diverse places I have been to.