Quarantine Internet has inspired us to do so much: Buy tie-dye; bake bread; question whether, actually, everything is cake; and, maybe most adventurously, try our hand at roller skating.
The sport has gone viral over these past few months, prompting news reports and spikes in both Google searches and skate sales. And it’s easy to understand why: The horror of the pandemic has left many of us drenched in nostalgia and searching for activities that comply with social distancing measures, making roller skating particularly alluring. Then there are the videos being shared across Instagram and TikTok; they’re instantly soothing to watch, often featuring people gliding down the street or around a park, perhaps wearing an enviable ‘70s-inspired outfit with feel-good music set in the background. They’re 30-second visions of joy, a precious commodity during uncertain times.
But, as happens with so much of the internet, the “trend” is being whitewashed and, in reporting and on explore pages, the Black communities who’ve kept skating alive over the decades have been left out. In a piece on Mashable titled “The Whitewashing of Roller Skating’s Online Revival,” reporter Jess Joho explains how “the online skating craze also comes with an undercurrent of racism and Black erasure.” Just watch the HBO documentary United Skates to learn how the Black skating community was part of both the civil rights movement and the emergence of hip-hop, and how skaters have fought against segregation and are still fighting to keep roller rinks open as safe spaces. As skater Toni Bravo said in a now-viral TikTok, “Skating is a huge part of the Black community. Please follow Black skaters.”
As you continue your scrolling, consider adding these eight skaters—and so many more—to your feed.
Marician Dedeaux Brown might’ve only started skating this year, but her videos are full of the smooth moves and sun-soaked scenery you’ll want on your feed every day.
@oh.thatsreese_ says: “I started skating this year in February. One day I was laying in bed scrolling through TikTok and got really inspired to buy a pair of skates and start skating. My favorite thing about skating is the vibes and freedom that flow through you. No worries—even if you fall—and no care in the world, just vibes and music. When I’m feeling stressed or down, I just lace up my skates.”
Follow: Instagram and TikTok
Is it possible to receive happiness through Instagram osmosis? If so, that’s the result of watching Kelsey Guy’s videos. The dancer-slash-skater often posts “date” videos (her combination of dancing and skating) and sometimes teaches beginner lessons in the Los Angeles area if you’re feeling inspired.
@the_good_guy91 says: “I had a few birthdays at the rink, as did some friends. It didn’t click right away, but I knew I always had so much fun year to year. I’m not sure what motivated me to get my own pair of skates, but I knew I felt like a kid again when I put them on. I had a friend describe it so well: When a person learns something new, their entire world opens up again and expands. That’s what skating was for me. It seriously fills me with wonder. I continue to skate because it’s euphoric. When I drop into that flow state, I am in another world and it feels amazing. I feel sexy, I feel cute, I feel unstoppable, I feel seen, I feel radiant. Skating brings out the best in me and being reminded that I’m more than just a hot-ass mess is pretty cool.”
Follow: Instagram and TikTok
Could I watch Aaliyah Warren slide under a group of people… while in a split… while on skates… forever? Yes, yes I could. Warren has been skating since she was a year old, and according to Mashable, she’s been featured in music videos, the United Skates documentary, and once won Best Female Skater at a national skating party.
@aaliyah913 says: “My family is filled with world champion roller skaters, so it was just natural for them to put me on skates as soon as I could walk. I started off doing artistic skating and got bored of it. Then I came across R&B-type rollerskating. I love everything about it—there are no rules, you make your own moves, and skate to any music you want. Skating is my therapy.”
Follow: Instagram and TikTok
Shove, the skater behind @fat_girl_has_moxi, lays it all out in her Instagram bio: “Fat. Black. Queer. Roller Skating diva, spreading body positivity” Follow her feed for progress videos, views from her rainbow-painted ramp, and news about cool collabs, like the Thick Set skating pads she helped develop for Moxi Roller Skates.
@fat_girl_has_moxi says: “I found myself in a toxic, controlling relationship that pulled me from who I really was. I lost most of my friends, dressed differently, became weak and submissive. My one friend took me to a roller derby orientation, and it was the first time I stood up to myself and the first step to finding myself again. Three years later, and I don’t do derby, but my love of skating has given me a loving girlfriend, best friends, and community. My favorite thing about skating is the feeling of flying and the the internal and external strength you gain from falling and getting back up.”
Chances are, you’ve already seen Toni Bravo: This May, her TikTok recounting the racist history of roller skating went viral amid the sport’s internet surge. Though she jests in her video that she “doesn’t even know how to skate,” Bravo uses her TikTok to answer questions and show tricks, so you can learn along with her.
@gr00vyquads says: “I originally started skating because my parents would take me and my sister to the rink when we were younger. But after our local rink shut down, I took a long break from skating. In 2019, I came across Moxi roller skates, fell in love with their retro look, and decided to grab myself a pair. I could not have imagined how much they would change my life. My favorite thing about roller skating is how unique each and every person is through their skate style; everyone shines differently and in their own beautiful way.”
Follow: Instagram and TikTok
Frances from @abominatrix tells ELLE.com she first started roller skating in 2009 and began skating around Oahu, Hawaii, protesting in support of marriage equality. Follow her feed for calming skate videos, tutorials, and a look into how she combines roller skating with the fight for social justice.
@abominatrix says: “I learned how deep this goes. It’s genetic, it is heritage, it is history. My family has been rocking roller skating since the ’50s, during segregation and the civil rights movement, to the OG roller derby days in Kansas, into the resurgence of derby in the 2000s, into the civil rights movement of today. I am here representing my passion, my Black roots, and cultural history.
“I believe in my heart that skating finds a person within an evolution of self or a life transition. I started skating when my epilepsy was in a bad place. It was the worst bout of seizures I had in my life. I was also in a relationship with an abusive person who was more than happy to remind me that I was worthless. I felt trapped in my body, home, work, and relationship. I never graduated college and didn’t see how I fit into traditional roles of ‘success.’ Roller skating found me when I felt like my life was no longer worth living. I needed to connect to the child within me that knew joy.”
Follow: Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube
Liliana Ruiz has been skating since childhood and now uses her feed not only to show off her moves, but to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement and voting in the upcoming election. She also occasionally teaches skating classes if you want to learn even more.
@lilyskatesalot says: “I started skating because it’s fun and it was a form of play, which quickly turned into a means of transportation since my family was limited financially. Rollerskating has evolved with me as I’ve grown into an adult. Now it serves many purposes for me, one being therapy. My favorite thing about rollerskating is that for the moments I’m in my skates vibing, no one can’t tell me nothing—not even my intrusive negative thoughts. They’re not invited to the skate party!”
Follow: Instagram and YouTube
Jas of @justseconds not only brings you along with her skating journey, she also started an IGTV series called Skate Dial, where she hosts conversations with other skaters in the community. Plus, she’s constantly updating her Spotify skating playlist, if you’re looking for tunes for your next ride.
@justseconds says: “I first started skating around the age of nine, when most of the kids in my neighborhood played outside. As I grew older, I lost my desire to skate and, simply put, I couldn’t afford to invest in a new pair of skates. This past summer (pre-COVID 19), I invested in a new pair, which led me through the best summer of my life thus far. I knew from that point on that skating was something that I always had a deep passion for. My favorite thing about skating is how liberating it feels and the ever-growing community. I’ve made so many lifelong friendships and connections, and it’s been so healing to learn more about myself in the process.”
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