Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines?


Why do people throw shoes on power lines? No doubt you’ve heard the myth that throwing shoes on power lines is an act of bullying. This happens when a bully takes the victim’s pair of shoes and tosses them where they’ll never be able to get them back. While it is certainly tied to the bullying culture, it does not always represent aggression — it can also represent a sign of respect.


There’s more than one answer to the question, “Why do people throw shoes on power lines?”

According to many theories, the meaning of sneakers on power lines depends on where you are in the world. There’s no general consensus since in some places, shoes represent a wish for good luck and prosperity. Meanwhile, others believe that hanging sneakers means someone has passed away. 

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines

Here are a few reasons we’ve gathered on why people throw shoes on power lines.

1. To Celebrate Lost Virginity

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines _ To Celebrate Lost Virginity

When a young man loses his virginity, he celebrates through shoe-tossing. Australian teens confess that they tie the laces together on their sneakers and fling them high in the air, so they dangle from the telephone wire.

In comparison to shoe-tossing, they believe that when you decide something, especially if it is permanent, you can never change it again. What’s lost is gone forever.

2. To Bully Someone

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines _ To Bully Someone

A popular reason why do people throw shoes on power lines is because of immaturity. Bullies will take their victim’s shoes and throw them on the power lines. That way their prey can’t reach their shoes. The victim will not only lose their shoes, but they’ll have to go home with no shoes on at all.

Walking home barefoot has become a symbol of defeat for people who’ve had their shoes stolen by bullies. It’s a humiliating experience, truly, to see someone walking home with no footwear. The victim’s powerlessness is a reminder to any bystander that they could have been the one robbed of their shoes.

Although the origin of this theory is unknown, bullies are present in any country and they practice this evil act on their prey.

3. To Notify Police Authorities

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines _ To Notify Police Authorities

Why do people throw shoes on power lines?

In Spain, an organized crime syndicate warning message might be at the root of a common sight in that country’s shoes hang upon power lines. Supposedly, this is the Mafia’s way of telling the police to back off. It could also be a caution that the gang will harm authorities if the cops get too close.

The hanging shoes on power lines serve as the police’s “gentlemen’s agreement”. Wherein the City’s gangs won’t interfere with their criminal operations. So they can avoid danger and threats from the gang leaders.

The more shoes hanging on telephone wires are a clear sign that the police should steer clear of the area.

4. To Hint Drug Activity

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines _ To Hint Drug Activity

The most widespread explanation for why do people throw shoes on power lines is drug activity. Locals tend to believe that if you see shoes dangling from the telephone wires, someone nearby is dealing with illegal substances.

Though the initial logic makes sense, it’s worth noting that being able to see a pair of shoes on a power line wouldn’t let you know which home they belong to. The police would have to figure that out too.

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In short, the ad is ambiguous about what exactly it’s trying to say. Is it suggesting you should stay in an area where drugs are present if you want to score some? Or is it saying that’s not a good idea? Only one thing is certain: it’s not telling you where you can buy drugs in the neighborhood.

5. To Indicate a Gang’s Territory

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines - To Indicate a Gang’s Territory

When someone steps onto your turf, you have to let them know. These gangs have created color coding that makes it clear to the rest of the neighborhood which gang is on the block. So when members from other gangs can easily spot you. 

Mafias can’t use obvious signage to signal their territories because the police might know too. Instead, gangs use cryptic signs like shoes on power lines as warning signs to outsiders.

6. To Commemorate Death

In a South Los Angeles neighborhood, there was a time when gang violence has reached new heights. Like 18 people attended a memorial service for a friend who had died of gunshot wounds. 

One week later, 50 pairs of shoes were found. Few with bloodstains hanging from power lines in the same neighborhood — the kind of respect shown to those killed in gang violence. 

The members of the gang who are alive throw the shoes over power lines as a symbol to remember their peers.

7. To Make a Graffiti (Shoefiti) 

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines - To Make a Graffiti -Shoefiti

Once you throw your shoes on a power line, your shoes are stuck up there. It’s hard to get them down, and they rarely ever return. They’re fixed up there, in the same manner as graffiti—a permanent fixture of your neighborhood.

Stories of vandalism are always coming up. It is where people can mark their new sexual experiences with sneakers hanging from a power line. 

For some teens, this is how young people announce something. They commemorate something they’ve accomplished — like achieving sexual maturity or losing their virginity.

In cities like New York and San Francisco, this recent trend called shoefiti has been making the news. This is after passersby began throwing their shoes over power lines. 

However, communities that value aesthetic cohesion have started cracking this down. They even have prosecuted those who hang their shoes on power lines as shoefiti.

8. To Create Art 

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines _ To Create Art

Here’s another reason why do people throw shoes on power lines.

Well, as an alternative to using markers, some artists have decided to use their shoes on power lines as a way to craft art. New York City-based artists have chosen to wear two-dimensional-looking shoes with holes in the toes. They hang them from various city power lines.

The artists show the viewers what they believe is. It is a new aesthetic: hanging works of art from telephone wires. 

They transgress boundaries as they hang their works of art on telephone wires. They are spurning rules they consider outdated as they send a message to the viewers. Also, with the world at large that you don’t always have to follow the rules and that art can exist anywhere.

It’s not hard to miss a single shoe hanging from a power line in New York City. You can spot these iconic images in all five boroughs, and even farther beyond the city’s borders. 

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The phrase “art shoes” coins specifically for these works of art that are often created by local artists. It serves as part of a public installation project or an artistic initiative as well.

Speaking of art, other than throwing your shoes on power lines, you can also create art by learning how to paint canvas shoes or other footwear.

9. To Copy Others (Meme)

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines _ To Copy Others (Meme)

It’s hard to admit, but a lot of the entertainment we enjoy comes from a “copy, paste, share” mentality. A quick search on YouTube will show you countless videos of people throwing their shoes onto power lines. 

This is an example of how we copy things for their own sake. We don’t even need a good reason for the entertainment with the bare thrill of copying something.

The trend of throwing your old sneakers onto power lines is not limited to those on social media. The meme has spread to every corner of the world, with people yearning to replicate it on their terms. 

There’s no denying that this is a narrative site. This is why do people throw shoes on power lines because they will always be an attention-grabbing site. It challenges people to stare at what they have done. Creating more of these sites holds that same appeal, as it often makes people ‘look’ at the things they’ve done.

10. To Have A Memorabilia

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines - To Have A Memorabilia

One restaurant has a unique tradition. When former employees stop working or move away, they take off their shoes and hang them over a power line outside the eatery. This serves as a keepsake and holds their memories while working there.

Some people spoke about the same thing. A person that lives in New York City has a couple of sneakers that he doesn’t wear anymore, but he also didn’t want to throw them away or donate them to charity. So this was his solution: a power line in Brooklyn.

Every time he passes by his old pair of shoes, he’d smile. It was like they were a museum piece — his sneakers were a reminder of those good old days.

Another person describes how his life reflects in a pair of sneakers. He hung up about seven pairs of sneakers and they were there as a marker of his life. As he looks at them, he can’t even tell who he was. He feels that he’s not that person anymore.

11. To Leave A Mark

Why Do People Throw Shoes on Power Lines - To Leave A Mark

Professor Marcel Danesi suggests that we leave our mark on the world in many ways, like with a simple shoe hanging from a telephone wire. By leaving something behind, we’re showing other people that we were there — and someone may one day find and appreciate what we left behind.

The shoes left behind by the restaurant staff and the old shoes hanging that someone threw to remember his past. They left their shoes hanging for a reason and that’s to leave their mark on their environment. 

Shoes on Power Lines Meaning

Shoes tossed over power lines are a common sight in neighborhoods, especially in countries where the local population is high. This phenomenon is also known as “shoe tossing” — an activity that is pervasive in areas where telephone wires are present. 

There’s no apparent reason what shoes on power lines meaning is, yet they’re everywhere. Some have speculated that the shoes were there owned by dead relatives. Others claim that it’s a modern version of an ancient tradition. 

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Regardless of where the shoes on power lines originate, one thing is clear: everyone has an opinion on them.

What Does It Mean When Shoes Are On Power Lines?

What Does It Mean When Shoes Are On Power Lines _

If you find yourself tossing shoes on power lines, you might want to consider what does it mean when shoes are on power lines?

This could hurt passersby.

Shoes can cause serious injury — especially the ones with large rubber soles. Even if you don’t intend to hurt someone, a misaimed shoe can end up being very harmful. Remember: the face and neck are sensitive areas, and one misaimed sneaker could blind or choke out anyone.

You never know when a shoe that’s strapping to a power line will detach from the cord and fall. If it happens to be a pair of high heels, they could fall and hit someone on the ground.

Before tossing your shoes on the power line, make sure you can get them up there with just one shot.

It is risky to retrieve the shoes.

Some residents of one neighborhood in Minneapolis refer to themselves as “the Shoe Watch”. Their concern on shoes hanging over telephone lines drove them to get together and clean up. They climb onto the hoods of their cars with sticks to retrieve the shoes.

In a YouTube video, 2 friends wanted to get their hands on their first Jordan Chicago 1s using PVC poles. They say that how they got them would make a great story. No one’s hurt — but what if they touched the live wire? According to Georgia Power, it uses 7,200 volts of electrical energy throughout its overhead power lines.

Those who want to retrieve a shoe that is hanging over a power line should prepare for the worst. You should wear rubber gloves and stand safely on an elevated platform.

Watch the climate conditions to make sure it hasn’t poured in your area if you plan to get those shoes on power lines. Rain makes footwear more conductive to voltage. It produces a slippery foothold too, which can lead to falls and electrocution.

This could send a wrong message.

Throwing a shoe over power lines is a bit of a mystery. People do it for different reasons. But, many people might assume that they are throwing their shoes at drug dealers that live nearby. While this might be the case in some neighborhoods, most people will also believe that there are a lot of bullies in your area.

While it may not be true that a neighborhood is unsafe, the sight of shoes hanging above power lines could send the wrong message to passersby.

shoes on power lines by FOX10 News (YouTube)


There’s a myriad of reasons why people throw shoes on power lines. It might be because they’re art, a means to call attention to their cause, or something personal. But now you know more.

If you have more questions, I’m more than happy to attend to you. Leave them down below because I’m excited to read them. Share your thoughts and what you believe the real reason is.

Shoes on power lines have long been a fascination for the public and even a subject of debate. If you do elect to hang your shoes on a wire though, make sure it’s legal and safe. In some cities and towns, hanging shoes over power lines is illegal or subject to fines. Remember, safety first! 

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