Why do people throw shoes on power lines & tree ?

Why do people throw shoes on power lines & tree ?

One cannot imagine humankind’s progress and development without shoes. We’re one of the most defenseless beings that has stepped foot on this planet. With no sharp teeth, no super strength nor speed, we had nothing but our brains to create tools to go through the most adverse conditions.

One of these tools are shoes, but shoes are more than protection. Can you imagine how shoes end up on power lines?

Why do people throw shoes on power lines ?

why do people throw shoes on power lines

why do people throw shoes on power lines


One of the mostly spread traditions on the American continent is throwing shoes on the power lines. But, what does it mean? There is not only one answer to this question. It’s not hard to imagine that in a continent where dead is celebrated as it’s in America, this tradition is well related to death itself. However, even though it’s related to death, this tradition in America has two different origins.

Thug Life

The widest spread tradition began in the United States of America. Its origins are linked to crime, murder and drug dealing. It’s known that shoes hanging from power lines are a sign of criminal activity in a specific area. Shoes became a “trophy” for gangs, as they belonged to their victims and they would brag about it by leaving them where rivals were able to see them, and there was no better place than on the power lines.

Just America?

With the pass of time, the tradition of using the shoes as trophies began to spread south to most of the American continent. With the appearance of new technologies, it has become more common every day to see shoes hanging on power lines in countries like Spain, Germany, and England. Today we can even see them in Asia and Australia.

Celebrating the Death

In Mexico, the origin of this tradition is more romantic. Even though the “criminal” roots of shoes found on power lines is also evident in Mexico, for decades a synonym for dying has been “to hang the tennis shoes”, something like the equivalent of “kicking the bucket”. It’s very common to see all kinds of shoes (mostly tennis shoes) hanging on power lines all over Mexico. It’s just another way to celebrate a loved one’s departure.


With globalization and today’s urban culture, throwing (or maybe just placing) shoes or other clothing items on power lines has become common in cities like Berlin. This practice other than celebrating death or pointing out the existence of gangs has appeared as art or decoration in places like Germany, France or Spain. Such form of expression is known as Shoeffiti (shoe and graffiti) or #shoeffii on social media.

Shoes have been an extremely important element for us to create the civilizations that we know nowadays. From fashion to art, from crime to celebration, from becoming a symbol of our presence on the moon to signifying the biggest offense if thrown to someone in some countries. Shoes are and will be part of human progress, culture, tradition, and history. Think of this next time you see shoes on power lines.

why do people throw shoes on power lines

Shoes End up on Power Lines

Why do people throw shoes on power lines & tree – Movie

Mery Jane Josenberg
Mery Jane Josenberg

passionate blogger and traveler as well as a journalist.