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Former pro skater Tino Razo has documented a resurgent part of skating subculture throughout Southern California in a brilliant new book, Party In The Back.
Shot over three years with a Yashica T4 camera, the photos chronicle Razo’s experience as part of skating nostalgia, shooting and skating the abandoned swimming pools of suburban California. The end result is a beautiful collection of pictures that sees some of the best skaters in the world get together for skate sessions with the images seemingly caught off the cuff or in the most fleeting of moments, capturing the laid-back aesthetic of the disappearing pool culture amid the sunshine.
Born and raised in Vermont, Razo moved to New York to study at the School of Visual Arts, but also to be closer to his two older brothers and to skate. After spending hours and hours at the legendary sleazy-chic Lower East Side bar Max Fish, where one of his brothers worked, Razo eventually found himself doing the same. For the next 12 years, Razo was bartending at night, while spending his days skateboarding and writing graffiti.
When Max Fish closed in late 2010, Razo headed to Los Angeles, ready for the SoCal pool culture he had only ever enjoyed from afar. This move lead to a rejuvenated energy and desire to skate, which LA satisfied with its abundance of empty swimming pools. The excitement of discovering, exploring, and skating these pools with his friends was something Razo could not let go undocumented.
The project led to meeting with other skaters, obviously, but also local residents, police officers, and even the makers of the pools themselves. The abandoned landscapes that play host to the book ensure that there is an underlying eerie and melancholic quality to the photos, filled with plenty of cracked concrete and dusty soft focus.
The book pays homage to a number of loves in Razo’s life. To skating, clearly, but also to California (which he learned to love eventually), the intricacies of the pools’ designs and, ultimately, his wife, Desiree, who died in a surfing accident in 2015. On the book’s final page, he dedicates it to her. It says: “She is the first person that I’ve known in my entire life to die doing what she loved. … I loved you, I still love you, and I will continue to do so till my time is up. This one’s for you, Desiree.”