For certain generations, roller skating brings back fond childhood memories. You may have grown up going to the roller rink for parties, school events, or just to hang out with your friends. Yes, roller rinks still exist, and have even seen a recent resurgence of skaters. However, there’s another place where roller skating has become a trendy way to pass the time—and you don’t have to go very far to find it.
Living That Roller Skating Life
Unless you were living under a rock during COVID-19 lockdowns, you probably noticed the roller skating craze that became a staple of approved outdoor activities across the world. While people were being asked to remain at home, going outdoors while social distancing was still acceptable in many parts of the world. This meant that people began finding outdoor activities they could do solo or physically distanced with friends. Cue the rise of pandemic roller skating.
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I’ll admit that I even jumped onto this craze. Putting on a pair of quads became a stress release for me and a way to escape lockdown around the world. Plus, roller skating was an affordable and accessible option during the pandemic. You could jump into your quads on the street, skate park, or even jam skate in your basement.
From Germany to Nairobi and here in the States, getting into a pair of quads was made popular thanks to TikTok videos and Instagram reels. Oumi Janta was just one of many skaters to popularize jam skating in 2020. Even though her reel was posted back in November 2020, people still comment on her post and show their love for her quad moves today.
Celebrities have also been part of roller skating mania. Back in October 2020, the video of Nathan Apodaca, known as @420doggface208 on TikTok, went viral. After his car broke down, he recorded himself skateboarding to work while singing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Stevie Nicks even spoofed Apodaca’s video as she laced up her roller skates and sang to her own vocals.
A Pastime That Has Roots in Civil Rights
However, roller skating didn’t begin with the pandemic, and it didn’t end once lockdown orders ceased. Roller skating has a long history of being a competitive sport, fun activity, and even a means of protesting. Many people remember or have heard of skate clubs in the 1970s that were made popular as disco was on the rise. But did you know that modern roller skating actually got its start during the civil rights era?
When desegregation began in the 1950s, many roller rinks tried to keep Black skaters off the floor. As a result, protests and sit-ins were staged by the Black community. The outcome? Many roller rinks ended up holding separate skate nights for white and Black skaters. During Black skate nights, skaters invented jam, hip-hop, and rhythm skating.
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Those same styles became more and more popular during the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Now, in 2022, we see the same quad moves from the civil rights era being reinterpreted for modern-day skaters. Whether you take it to the street or join your friends for a night at the roller rink, just keep rolling.