Beach volleyball first appeared in the early 1920s in Santa Monica, California. It was intended as family fun. In no time, though, the discipline had spread across the world and, by 1927, it was the chief recreational activity of a French nudist colony.
The game reached countries like Czechoslovakia, Latvia and Bulgaria by the 1930s, then enjoyed a hike in popularity back in the United States when the Depression left people desperate for a break from their everyday travails and heading for the beach. The first official two-man tournament took place in 1947, and the first beach-volleyball circuit, involving hundreds of players and five California beaches, began in the '50s.
Soon, the discipline had the critical ties to popular culture that would launch it to new heights. Beauty contests began to add to the whole show atmosphere. During a 1957 tournament, the female star of the Hollywood film "Pajama Tops" was named Queen of the Beach, and kissed the winning players. One was Gene Selznick, the first King of the Beach in volleyball, who was fast accruing a large fan club.
In the 1960s, the Beatles appeared at Sorrento Beach in Los Angeles for a hit. Marilyn Monroe and other film stars were speaking favourably of the place, and United States president John F. Kennedy even went for a look. The natural progression was for sponsors to follow with their prize money in the 1970s, and by the end of that decade the discipline had a new, professional life.