The “original” orginal Bali booties

One of the ogoh-ogoh statues paraded around Sanur during the Nyepi Eve procession.

Seeing this brought to mind the original original Bali booty, which was the Chinese made Swallow brand bathroom rubber sandal, kind of like you see modeled here as the surfboard. They were cheap enough to discard if you had to. I used them to tromp over the low tide reefs (those weren’t exactly the green days of ecological insight) and either left them on the edge or tied them off to a piece of coral for after-surf retrieval. They weren’t good for surfing, though.

The original Bali booty was a Rip Curl product, light blue latex with thin grip soles, originally designed and for Japanese construction workers. Rip Curl didn’t change a thing to them and imported them to flog them to surfers. Brilliant genius marketing. They were the best booties ever—just thick enough to save you from grief, light enough to feel that you were surfing in bare feet. They were being sold in Bali in the mid 80s. Here is yours truly on the Lakey Peak rights (before it was “discovered” and sorry for the crap shot–plus it’s a photo of a photo–but those are Bali booties on me twinkle-toes.)

They don’t make them anymore. Too bad. The booties you buy now feel like, well, boots on your feet.

(One of my personal rules of surf exploration, back in the day, was “wear the booties,” especially on unfamiliar reefs miles & days on a slow boat or horse cart from anywhere—I’d seen enough foot sores go septic).

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5 Responses to The “original” orginal Bali booties

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh God I wish they would bring them back. The soles were like a gum rubber colour.

  2. John Palframan says:

    Well, that’s interesting i didn’t know they were originally made for construction workers, wow.Yep, I remember those days (best), I had one ripped off me foot at g-land in ’86. they were a bugger to get on and really thin, every time I put them on I thought I was going to rip them. They did the job well though. Therefore was good to take 2pairs. I can remember a lot of guys just using one. They had either lost one or shared with a mate. One was better than none!. If you get pushed down hard to the bottom for a while, you just stand there waiting for that ocean to let you come back up to get a breath. ha ha. .PS I’d never been to indo b4 and went on Paul kings boat to Plengkung, he was trying to talk me into his first Sumbawa trip. Got there two yrs later and since then. Slamat Jalan Kewan.

    • Yeah, they were the best. When Rip Curl wasn’t importing them anymore, several guys in Bali stocked up on as many they get hold of.

      • Robert says:

        Yeah they were great ! When Rip Curl International decided they would not distribute them anymore myself and Sam Williams [ Rip Curl Indonesia at the time ] decided we had better get as many as we can. We purchased the last 600 pair from HQ and had stock for quite some time. The trick was always to put them on in the water .. Probably one of the better [ non surfing surf products ] of all time ..

  3. Pingback: The Original Bali Booties, take two: One of the best surf products ever | Bali and Indo Surf Stories

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