Shoefiti: 5 Meanings of Shoes Hanging from Electrical and Telephone Cables



This is a trend that has been seen in almost every continent, from North America to South America, Europe and even Africa, even Asian countries have not been left behind. Hanging shoes, sometimes called shoe throwing, occur worldwide in rural and urban areas.

Most discarded shoes are sneakers. But these are not the only ones hanging from lines or trees, there are leather shoes and boots that are thrown on lines.

Shoe throwing, also known as shoefiti, is the act of using shoes as a projectile in a number of folk sports and cultural practices. It involves throwing a pair of laced shoes over elevated wires, such as telephone wires and power lines, or tree branches, creating shoe tree art.

In Arab culture, throwing a shoe at someone means disrespecting the person to whom the shoe is thrown.

One such incident occurred on December 14, 2008, when an Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, threw his pair of shoes at US President George W. Bush during an Iraqi press conference. Bush was not hit by either shoe, however, as he dodged both.

The journalist was protesting the work that US forces were doing in Iraq and he was upset because women and children were the most affected.

However, have you wondered the meaning of the shoes hanging in these places, has it ever stirred your mind and left you with questions about the meaning of them and how they come to suspended areas?

Let’s look at some of the meaning that dangling shoes indicate in the different areas and places where they can be found.

Territory of drugs and gangs

One of the most commonly accepted reasons for shoes hanging over power lines is to signal the location of a crack house or a place where drug dealing is prevalent. This may mean that the drugs are available where the hanging shoes are spotted.

Dangling shoes can also be a symbol of gang members claiming territory, especially when the shoes hang from power lines or telephone wires at road intersections.


Other beliefs say that when you see shoes hanging over power lines, they’re there simply because someone got bored and decided throwing shoes over the line would be fun.

In other cases, the shoes belong to drunks or people unable to defend themselves whose stalkers and/or bullies have decided it would be fun to taunt their victims and leave them without shoes. Their tormentors do it just to harass the victims.

Commemoration of the death of a loved one

Although it is unclear when the practice of hanging shoes began and some of the meanings in different parts of the world, some do it for the remembrance of a loved one.

Sometimes the death of a young person in a community prompts close friends, family members and loved ones to throw shoes at different places, electricity, telephone wires or even trees.

It is also believed that gang members also practice this as an informal memorial to where a close member lost their life.

Celebrate the stages of life

Some of the common celebrations that people hold by throwing their shoes over lines or trees include graduation or basic military training. It’s like carving a name into a tree.


The act of hanging shoes is also said to be done by part of the population as a way to leave a part of themselves behind. Often reformed gangs also hang shoes in different places to signify that they have changed or transformed for the better.

These could be considered as some of the reasons why the shoes are hung in different places, but in reality the matter remains a mystery to this day.

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