Oakland sideshows, a culture that emerged in the mid-1980’s, has gained a bad reputation, however, the long tradition and roots of East Oakland continue today. Sideshows first appeared in Oakland as informal social gatherings with the original intent for people to show off their “whips” or customized American Muscle cars from the 1960’s painted in candy colors, leather interiors, wire rims, and modified high-performance engines. This was the inception of the sideshow culture where the community was able to meet, and share music, art, and wares for the industrious, entrepreneurial and creative residents of deep East Oakland. Sideshows became an informal demonstration of car stunts held in vacant lots, and most popular today in public intersections. Tires screeching, cars spin donuts, blocking lanes. Normally about 200 vehicles are said to be associated with sideshow activity on any given night. But the bad reputation has come from the violent incidents such as shootings have peaked. Police crackdowns that often result in police patrol cars getting vandalized, car chases have become interwoven into the fabric of the community. As the years have gone by, a gang element has been integrated, as well as the often fatal “ghost riding”. Ghost riding is a maneuver in which a person when “yoking” or doing donuts exits the vehicle mid “whip” or does some antics outside the vehicle before returning the vehicle, which is often still in motion. Dangerous and illegal nevertheless, Oakland sideshows persists as a developing culture to many.

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