Surfing: the ballet of the waves

November 4, 2019 | Surfing
Surfing: the sport of dancing on waves | Photo: Shutterstock

We refer to surfing as "it." But it could very well be a "she." Here's why the essence of surfing is more XX than XY.

When we go back to the early days of surfing as an outdoor recreational activity in Hawaii's Waikiki Beach, the first images that come to mind are of elegance, grace, and relaxation.

The local boardriders would glide smoothly across the water, occasionally walking back and forth on the board, much to the appreciation of the tourists.

In many ways, surfing - or the simple act of riding a wave - resembles performance dances like classical and contemporary ballet or traditional Indian and Persian dances.

Surfing has its very own choreography, dictated by the flow and behavior of the moving waves. All we need to do is to interpret them and put brush to canvas.

Surfing: a sport with the grace, elegance, gentleness and style that are often associated with women | Photo: Shutterstock

The Elegance of Longboard and the Finesse of Power Surfing

Think of the temporary, curvilinear lines drawn on the saltwater. Aren't they a reflection of the curves of a woman's body?

This has nothing to do with misandry or sex discrimination. It is just what it is. If you had to associate surfing with gender, it would probably be feminine.

As, for example, rugby, boxing, ice hockey, American football, and mixed martial arts are still a predominantly male thing.

In their essence - and even visually - they look and feel more masculine than feminine.

Surfing has an inherent elegance and finesse, whether you're a fan of classic longboarders, power surfers, new school performers, or big wave hunters.

You will even find XX characteristics in the most radical maneuvers.

Surfing is one of the most photographed sports in the world, and we can easily understand why so many people enjoying watching these intrepid dancers of the ocean draw their creativity in the waves.

You don't have to be a surfer to appreciate the beauty of it - there's an immediate magnetic connection between the spectator and the dancer.

There's subtlety in small weight adjustments, precision in feet positioning, grace in the extension of the arms, and delicacy in cross-stepping.

The Celebration of a Miracle

To highlight surfing's feminine side is not to undermine a man's ability, proficiency, style, and masculinity.

On the contrary - it makes a male surfer an even more sophisticated athlete, i.e., someone who is able to combine physical strength and timeless style.

Martha Graham (1894-1991), one of the most influential American modern dancers and choreographers of all time, has once described dancing in a way that could perfectly fit the shoes of surfing.

"Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle. And the dance is a celebration of that miracle," underlined Graham.

There's a reason why so many surfing videos and TV news stories are nearly always accompanied by music.

Surfing is dancing with and to the rhythm of the waves, in sync with the compass of the ocean, and the soul of the performer.

So, let "her" drive us all - men and women - into her most secret, intimate, and sacred world of feelings. In the end, there will always be a smile drawn on our faces.


Words by Luis MP

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2019 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers