As you might have observed in life, there are people with style: a walking style, a dancing style, a football style and of course, A surfing Style ! This is the case of unrepeatable Mickey Dora, also known as “Da Cat”; “the Gypsy Darling”; “Malibu Mickey”; “Kung’Bu” or “the Fiasco Kid”, yes, why so many names? It’s what happens when you mingle with thousands of groups of people: they like your style and give you a name…
The encyclopedia of Surfing says that “Those who knew Micky Dora,” biographer David Rensin wrote, “those who wish they had or never had, all agree: there will never be another character in surfing like him. No one. Not even close.”
Dora was born in Budapest in 1934 being a son of a wine merchant. When his parents divorced, his mother ended up with Gard Chapin, probably the best surfer in California during those days, and the most disliked as well. His new adopted father decided to send his stepson to boarding school and there is where Dora was introduced to surfing.
It was in the 1950’s when Dora ended up in Malibu, California, which was already the best surfing spot in the world with surfers like Dewey Weber, Mike Doyle, Mickey Muñoz, Lance Carson, Terry “Tubesteak” Tracy and Billy “Moondoggie” Bengston.
“Living at the beach isn’t the answer,” Mickey Dora said once… “Guys who live at the beach get waterlogged. I’m there for the waves, nothing else.” These words prove that this guy had some personality, good or bad nevertheless, a character himself. But the thing is that he had character in the water as well, his style was unique, in words of the Encyclopedia of Surfing that deserve another mention:
“Dora patterned his surfing style on that of postwar Malibu ace Matt Kivlin, riding with a slight curve to his upper back, his trailing knee tucked inward, hands held palm-down at waist level. Dora’s turns and cutbacks, taken individually, were similar to those of Phil Edwards, Mike Doyle, and the rest of the era’s top riders. But Dora set himself apart with the constant adjustments he made between moves—hands, head, shoulders, and feet bebopping to a complex rhythm no other surfer heard—and by the elegant trim line he drew across the wave face. Strong and broad-shouldered, with a mat of black hair across his chest, Dora was nonetheless light on his feet, earning himself the nickname “Da Cat.”
If you’d like to know more about him, they talk about him in the surf movie The Endless Summer, and is credited in plenty of beach party films as he was known as to be a prankster after all, this is because as he was a character he had his bad temper, but he also knew how to make people laugh. The movies that credit him are: Beach Party (1963), Surf Party (1964), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), Ski Party (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). Want to become the next Mickey Dora to show your unique style? Start by learning how to surf in Tenerife.