A sideshow is an informal and illegal demonstration of automotive stunts now often held in vacant lots, and public intersections, most often in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, United States. Sideshows were first brought on the scene at Oakland's Eastmont Mall parking lot as informal social gatherings of African-American youth. Sideshows were made even more popular throughout the 90's with such songs as bay area rapper Richie Rich's "Sideshow" anthem. "Down Bancroft / To the light / Let me warm it up, I hit a donut tight / Chevy on my side / Windows straight tinted / He got hype when he saw me spinnin’ / I’m up outta there, sideways to the next light"
The most common activities at sideshows are maneuvers such as doughnuts. Another popular activity is ghost riding. This involves driving a car, opening the door and climbing out, sometimes onto the hood, sometimes standing or dancing next to the car while the car continues to roll. Violent incidents, including shootings, sometimes occur at the events, leading to a public demand that the exhibitions be halted. The phenomenon is most strongly associated with Oakland, California (the birthplace of the sideshow), with the events there often being attended by those in the hip hop community. Such events are promoted in local rap by artists such as E-40 and Keak Da Sneak.
On June 8, 2005, the Oakland City Council narrowly defeated a measure (pushed by then-Mayor Jerry Brown) which would have subjected spectators at sideshows to criminal sanctions, such as fines and even jail terms. Drivers face various penalties, including having their cars impounded.