Sideshows first emerged on the streets of East Oakland during the mid 1980s. The first sideshows were originally ad hoc car shows where people would congregate in the parking lot of Foothill Square or the top level of the Eastmont Mall parking lot.
The original intent of the sideshows at this time was for people to show off their cars, usually American muscle cars from the 1960s. These cars were often highly customized with elaborate paint jobs, all leather interiors, wire rims and modified high performance engines.
Around the early 90's, sideshows grew so popular that they had outgrown the parking lots of Eastmont Mall and Foothill square and participants began cruising up and down the Foothill Blvd which shortly after became known as "the strip". By the mid 90's the sideshow became the alternative hot spot for those too young to gain entrance into 21 and over nightclubs.