The Transition Between Old And New Venice Motivates The Community To Keep The Culture Alive

To honor the past of the Venice community is important to these ‘originals’ as gentrification and the newer culture begins to be more prevalent


Alex Esparza

A portrait of Jason Brown, owner of S.T. Tattoo and lead singer for Cycotic Youth, standing in front of tattoo designs and art

Alex Esparza, Reporter

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Some aspects of Venice as a neighborhood are timeless, yet some have changed over the years. Venice has developed a diverse community with many different cultures. 

From the Venice Originals in their shorts and Vans carrying their skateboards around listening to their favorite bands to the people that had live bands at backyard parties. 

This same atmosphere has been constant throughout the years. People have kept the Venice culture alive and have tried to keep it relatively the same in hopes of restoring the culture with changes here and there. 

The music and bands, to families, along with the stores and shops like Venice Originals Skate Shop to S.T. Tattoo Shop and restaurants like Saby’s Cafe have been here for quite a long time, and people have enjoyed these places and sometimes even come together as a community to support them. It really showcases the community Venice has always been.  

People have said the overall culture has drastically changed, for instance—the gentrification. The newer people move into Venice, the more the original people of Venice feel like they don’t belong anymore. More people have been drawn to the more modern stores and places such as stores like Erewhon, a popular grocery store in the heart of newer Venice. 

“I’ve lived in Venice most of my life, and let me tell you it’s changed a whole lot. I remember seeing this building being built, I work here now. This really goes to show that people have to resort to working at these places because all the small or older businesses most people grew up with – are being gentrified and it really sucks. I kinda miss the old Venice,” says Drew, an Erewhon employee who had worked there for three years.

As the years passed many things have changed so has the atmosphere and the people. More modernized places are ultimately normalized. The prominence of original culture had died down and taken over. The history of the original Venice plays a crucial role in defining the social history and its character. 

“I feel like everyone says this but it is the gentrification of Venice. And people are acting like they’ve been here for so long, they don’t know the true core of Venice,” said Jason Brown, owner of S.T. Tattoo and lead singer for Cycotic Youth.

 “This town has changed so much now. It’s much more acceptable and more the place to live now, with the traffic to the cost of renting an apartment.” 

With gentrification on the rise in this generation, people have described back then to be the better scene in Venice, the older Venice (the 1980s – 1990s) with more community and more infamous places still around.

Much like Suicidal Tendencies singer Mike Muir along with Jason Brown opening S.T. Tattoo studio in 1998. With the background of Jason doing tattoos on the road with Mike, thus creating such an iconic place in Venice despite all the changes and gentrification that drastically has affected Venice.

Venice’s music culture has always been there, too. With the most notable bands starting from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s, infamous bands like Suicidal Tendencies, Cycotic Youth, and Beowulf broke out of the scene.

“S.T. Tattoo Studio is a Westside landmark beyond the average tattoo shop that has seen the transformation of Venice from ‘ghetto by the sea’ to posh living and gentrification,” says Jason in representation of ST Tattoo. 

With that, there were always some challenges when bands start out or get their message across, Jason had claimed.

“Getting the respect from the punk rock community was pretty hard at first when we started out, cause a lot of these dudes were already in punk rock for like ten years. So it was mainly earning their respect,” says Jason. “It was the struggle of bringing punk rock to a mainstream platform around Venice back when we tried playing shows in different places like the Roxy in Hollywood. ”

As the scene grew in the 1980s and 1990s, punk rock shaped the attitudes of those around Venice. It started really gaining traction all throughout the different areas of Venice with the rise in popularity throughout the messages these punk rock bands were trying to showcase. 

Punk rock band singers, much like Brown, talked about how the messages in their songs dealt with the political, social and anarchist movements, but as the years progressed those messages have changed. 

With changes of living, along with old and new Venice, there’s still a sense of community especially with the older generations as people are now trying to find solutions for the gentrification of these neighborhoods like affordable housing, more people involved in the community, being able to share their experiences being around Venice.

Growing up around Venice influenced me a lot. Especially since my dad grew up around here and told me what it was like to be in Venice in the 1980s and 1990s. I found it really interesting and wanted to dive deeper into the culture of this place because this is my home along with my father’s. I’ve met all sorts of people here from the time I was a toddler to now 17 years old, which I’ve made so many memories from. To hang with my dad and his friends blasting Metallica’s album “Death Magnetic” and Suicidal Tendencies song “Institutionalized” driving down Venice Blvd as an 8 year old, to being with my dad doing the same thing years later at 17 wanting to keep the Venice culture and spirit alive.

From continuing to pursue music to skating at Venice beach still repping Venice Originals, from going into different careers and even still sticking around in Venice keeping the original community alive.

With that, Venice will always remain “Cyco” to these originals.