Dream Team Society
Shelly Simon of "DTS"
Shelly Simon, co-founder of the “dream team society,” is all about community, whether it's with the vibrant skateboarders of New York or the stoked surfers of Los Angeles. Keep an eye out for “everybody surfs,” an all-embracing surf program hosted by Shelly Simon, Jessie Meehan, and Dream Team Society.
Hey Shelly! How are you doing? Looks like you have been traveling all over! Any plans for February?
I’m so stoked! It’s seventy degrees in LA, in February, so not much to complain about. Yeah, I was just in Hawaii for two weeks, testing out a new wetsuit jacket that we’re creating. Now that I’m back in California, I definitely plan on going to surf spots that I haven’t been to as much.
And I noticed that you have meetups with other surfers, has that been a consistent thing?
Yeah! If I know the surf will be good, I post a hands-off invitation for people to “BYOB” (bring your own board), and paddle out with us! We’ll start doing lessons in a month and a half, once it gets warmer...we want people to love the sport, not hate it. I mean, plunging into the Pacific Ocean isn’t user-friendly during the winter months.
That’s right! What’s the best part about instructing first-time surfers? Why does Dream Team offer this?
Education is important to us. Educating people on proper etiquette, “wave-reading,” and swell- chasing. Essentially, protecting the lineup with safe surfing.
On that note, could you tell us more about your surfing career, your upbringing/background, and what brought you to being a surfer in Southern California?
So I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and starting surfing around the age of 12! I surfed there till’ about the time I was done with college. When I moved to New York, I felt like I hung up my surfboard and took down my skateboard. Besides for the weekend’s, I was mostly riding on concrete. Skateboarding did a lot for me, which is great. Then I got stuck in LA doing freelance work during the pandemic, and I ended up staying here.
And how did you get involved with surfing in LA? Did you have somebody show you around?
My co-founder, Jessie, hit me up and told me that she started surfing recently. I was like, “I surfed when I was growing up, I’ll come with!” So we started going to Venice Breakwater!
Is this when DTS started? Could you tell us about the origination of your wonderful coalition, the “Dream Team Society.”
After a couple months of surfing in Los Angeles, and having left my skate “family” back in New York, I was missing out on the queer community/allies, especially out in the water. I thought to myself, how could I form a congregation of like-minded people? That’s when the “Dream Team Society” came into fruition.
On your website, “DTS” stands for many things, do you mind explaining what that is?
The acronym can stand for “down to surf/skate, down to share, or down to shred!” When I was first conceptualizing the name, I thought that this acronym could be an uplifting way of getting people to join our community, and having that community is so essential.
Definitely! Now that you have been a part of many surf cultures, from Charleston to New York and now LA, what significant differences have you noticed?
Charleston is still in the south, and it’s pretty binary, so it never had groups that were tied together by commonalities. I was still able to have a good time though, I just never found surfing to be a community-based activity over there. On the other hand, New York had this, with groups like Benny’s Club. So, here in LA, it’s cool to come together with people that share this one thing with me, even if we are different in every other way.
Totally! What are you looking forward to in the future of Dream Team? Can we get a sneak peak on any types of events that you’re planning?
Of course! We will be doing our “everybody surfs” program in march, which is a safe space for surfers to bring it to the next level. It’s also broadening the exposure of identity for athletes’ personal lives, normalizing the expression of sexuality. We’ve seen Tyler Wright do this, she’s a huge inspiration for us, and with her support of LGBTQ+ there is hope for a monumental change in this sport. We would love to follow in her footsteps, you know, like using my platform to advocate for a safe space.
It’s great to see this change in such a traditional culture and industry. I want to backtrack a little and hear more about Jessie. Aside from being your surf buddy, what was Jessie’s role in the creation of Dream Team Society?
We both worked in the music industry, and I managed her band for a bit, so we traveled on cross-country tours and spent a lot of time with each other. We had been advocating for equality in the music space for a while, and tried taking that idea of community and applying it to the surf world. She’s great, like the type of person who makes you feel like you’ve known eachother forever, and her in-person help makes our events so special.
It’s great that you have her help through all of this! As a final question, I would like to ask what it means to be “true to the roots” for you? For Dream Team Society?
I see it as doing things that fill your own cup before you fill other people’s cup, like taking the time to rest, recuperate, and nourish yourself. At the end of the day, though, be bold and say “I am going to do what I want, whether it’s for myself or for others.”
Yeah, that’s a great perspective to have. Thanks for coming on to tell us about yourself, Shelly! For anybody interested in being part of the Dream Team Society, click here.