Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines? Here’s the Reason!

You must have once witnessed a pair of sneakers hanging on the power lines out of a sudden. This phenomenon happens in every continent, including Asia, Australia, and Africa. You might have ignored it while walking along the pavement in the neighborhood, or while riding a car back home.

But in the long run, this occurrence will make you curious. Surely you have asked yourself where this tradition originates? Why do people throw shoes on power lines? What can you refer to? Don’t worry, all your considerations will be explained carefully today in this article. You can see different meanings of shoe tossing, ranging from cultural purposes, social activities to artistic events.

Shoe Tossing – a Traditional Culture

Definition of this phenomenon

Before knowing why people put shoes on power lines, you must understand what shoe-throwing is. Shoe tossing, also called shoe slinging or throwing, is the act of tying shoelaces of sneakers together and then flinging them on somewhere. Sneakers can be observed hanging from telephone wires, bushes, and fences. However, the most commonplace for them is on a power line.

Notwithstanding being quite prevalent, there is no obvious explanation why people do so. The footwear in this case might represent native customs, history, or something else.

History of shoe-throwing

In the flow of time, the original meanings of shoe tossing might fade away, and I can’t tell which hypothesis is 100% correct, but these two theories below are the most outstanding ones and worth knowing.

According to many sociologists, shoe tossing stems from an old Western wedding tradition where shoes represent happiness and the best wishes of all celebrants sent to newlyweds. A pair of boots indicate the new status symbol of the bride. It is a symbol for marriage, so the one catching the shoes from her would soon raise a family.

It seems familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, this is also the meaning of bouquet-throwing in contemporary weddings. But there is still a minor distinction. While bouquets are only thrown to women in ceremonies nowadays, sneakers can be received by all genders.

Apart from formal events like weddings, sneakers hanging on power lines are also theorized to emanate from the military, and some believe that the custom has carried over to modern times. Service members have a habit of flinging a boot over a live wire after graduating from initial training or relocating to another post and achieving new landmarks.

These reasons sound strange to you since there are no longer shoes tossing at the wedding or in the army. But it is not too challenging to witness shoes hanging from power lines to telephone wires. Why must people do so?

People Throw Shoes on Power Lines? Here’s Why

Illegal activities

Drug dealing

Doubtlessly, drug-related activity is one of the most convincing reasons people put shoes on power lines. Rumor has it that a pair of tossed shoes on wires represent a house where drug dealing happens.

However, of course, dopers cannot knock on each door, proudly asking for that bent. It is weird, right? Moreover, it is illegal, so they must take the cops into account while dealing. So, the address may not be exact, but people believe that drug purchasing spots can be around.

Do people hang shoes on power lines just to mark where they sell addiction? Probably. No one can confirm whether this is true and until now there has only been a rumor. This risky behavior is still ambiguous. It’s doubtful that sneakers can advise you where to gain substances in your neighborhood.

Gang meeting

Another illegal activity explained for shoes hanging from telephone wires is the gang territory. When you see tossing shoes in some specific areas such as intersections, there is a likelihood that people put shoes on power lines to spot their gang’s dominion.

A caller in New York City has indicated that each color will represent a gang. For example, a gang named Deceptions can be affiliated with gold and purple, so they only throw shoes in these two colors over the lines. If you notice many sneakers in the same colors, you are likely in the gang’s territory. Under no circumstances is it advisable to appear in these areas with creepy and quiet images of shoes swaying ghostly along the electrical lines.

However, don’t be too afraid. This occurrence is believed to only happen at night, where gangs can avoid the sensitivity of cops. It is also a high-risk activity, so it happens mostly in large cities like Los Angeles or Chicago.

Marking formal events

An important milestone in your life

Some adolescents toss their shoes over a power line with laces tying together to celebrate that they have achieved something remarkable, including graduating, turning 18, finishing military training, or simply losing their virginity. It stems from the second theory that I mentioned above.

The history is maintained until nowadays since the majority of people believe that once you have lost your shoes to the telephone wires, you can’t get them back. Just like you can’t get your age or virginity back after losing it.

The death of a close friend or family member

Until now, it is still mysterious when and where the practice started, but when a youngster passes away in a town, his or her loved ones may toss sneakers over telephone lines, power wires, and other public locations. It is a way to commemorate his/her death and the shoes will represent the farewell wishes that relatives or friends want to send.

Some gang members also follow this custom, erecting a makeshift monument at the spot a close friend or family member was killed.

An artistic activity


No one would risk his life getting rid of a sneaker hung on the power lines, so if shoes are stuck up there, they will stay there for good. As a result, many people regard shoe tossing as an artistic activity like graffiti, which is also known as shoefiti.

Shoefiti has the same impact on a community as graffiti, therefore towns seeking to maintain a certain appearance have clamped down on shoefiti and punished people who toss their footwear over electrical wires.

People are driven by the desire to make their mark, and If they run out of paint, their shoes will be an ideal replacement.


Shoes serve as our daily companions while also acting different purposes. Why do people throw shoes on power lines can be explained in several ways, and each has its unique meaning.

Now you know all about the explanations. Which one suits you the best? Leave your idea in the comment section and don’t hesitate if you have a question for us about shoe tossing.

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