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Learning to roller skate during the Pandemic: should you roll along with the trend too?

Ever been to a park and see those unbelievably agile and nimble skaters skating around like it’s a breeze? Many of the skaters in the parks we see today use a skate called inline skates. A rarer sight however, is the roller skates otherwise known as the quad skates. The roller skate shoes are attached with four wheels in the same arrangement as the wheels on a car. If I were to describe the feeling of roller skating, it would be that of HBO’s Euphoria(a high school coming-of-age TV series) meets Summer Salt (a indie rock band from Austin Texas).Let me introduce you to the joys of roller-skating and why you should jump onto the roller skating bandwagon!



The roller skating pandemic trend



Roller Skating started trending again during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when we were cooped up at home and lockdown was at its strictest. Such a revival was largely driven by video sharing app TikTok. People shared videos on roller skating tricks and dances, swinging their hips and hands and shaking to the beat of popular pop song.


People were unsure and scared of this new norm of minimal socialising along with the guilt of not exercising.With the virality of social media posts online and the circulation of roller skating on social media, people craved social interaction whilst maintaining social distancing and this was the perfect solution! Roller skating reminded us of a time when people were care-free and having fun. During the 1970s when Roller Disco was in full swing (pun intended). People skated in the roller skating rinks to disco music that was easily danceable together with their friends in their neon lights and along the smooth wooden polished dance floor such added to the appeal of roller skating and how it became a trend.


Roller skating as a liberating dance form



I was one of those people who was mesmerised by the smooth and loose style of dancing one could do on skates. Swinging their hips, gliding their legs and swinging their arms to the music. Roller skating extends the limitations of human limbs and allows dancers to achieve more than what they can do with just their feet alone. The liberation of dancing along with their care-free smiles while they are in the zone added to the allure of skating for many viewers. Some of the inspirational TikTokers I encountered on Pinterest were @anaocto and @rollerskatingprincess. Their content includes their experiences skating as well as their dancing videos.


The nostalgic appeal of roller skating



Others skated in their peaceful quiet American suburbs in the summer with Walkmans and headphones. Upon seeing this, I thought of how I could replicate this experience here in sunny Singapore (hmm... perhaps i’ll skate at the road behind my house that’s decorated with rows of palm trees)Nostalgia is attached to quad skating since many associate roller skating with roller skating rinks, disco balls, and strobing lights. A fondly remembered narrative on youth and young friendships that is retold to us younger generations. The promise of nostalgia and disco gave roller skating a greater allure on social media during the pandemic.


The ‘Flow State’ of roller skating



The way the skaters seemed like they were floating as they danced with their skates on can be seen as being drawn into the ‘Flow State’. Positive psychologist Mike Csikszentmihalyi and Jeane Nakamura popularised the term for this phenomenon in which you feel fully immersed in what you are doing under the right conditions and you are unable to get distracted easily. You are having so much fun and joy out of what you are doing that doing the activity is effortless and suddenly anything that was on your mind disappears. Given its carefree nature and indulgent qualities, roller skating offers skaters such an enjoyful ‘Flow State’.


Why did I finally decide to get rolling?


After watching a video of a skater dancing to Mariah Carey’s Fantasy I was hooked. (sing it with me now : ‘But it’s just a sweet sweet fantasy baby when I close my eyes you come and you take me!) I really wanted in on this fun. And so I began my pursuit of trying to figure out how to skate and ended up learning something new during the pandemic. I was also driven by the motivation of going to Hi-roller, Singapore’s main disco roller skating rink, and flexing my roller skating skills while people new to skating tripped and struggled. A innocent malicious motive...


(The video link to the video I was referring to can be found here : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/734438651725275742/ )


Getting started on skating on your own!



The struggle was real at the start as I practised skating back and forth along the quiet stretch of road behind my house and fell down several times on the hard rocky gravel. Thank goodness for knee and elbow pads! I relied on YouTube and TikTok videos to learn tricks such as spinning and gliding and basic skating. YouTubers such as ‘The Dirty School of Skate’ were my life-savers in learning how to skate. After two years since starting skating, my worn and broken-in Chaya Melrose Deluxe Turquoise Roller Skates below serve as memory of my efforts in learning how to skate overtime by myself.


I would say no one is ever perfect with their knowledge in skating given the endless number of tricks one can invent with their creativity! Find your bearings overtime and see which tricks are most comfortable for you. And of course, investing in a good pair of skates (I recommend Chaya Melrose Deluxe Roller skates given their round tip wheels which make it easier for rolling on rough surface roads common in Singapore) rather than some cheap no-brand pair online helps as it will help in you picking up skating faster.


Additional sites to check out:


Buying the right skating shoes


Check out this website i referenced when choosing and buying my skates for the first time to help make a decision that is geared towards your own preferences and interests :


https://www.byrdie.com/best-roller-skates-5188401


A perfect place to skate here in Singapore


If you hate the hot sun and prefer the sweet cool indoors or want to skate with some disco grooves, check out this roller skating rink known as Hi-roller in Singapore! It is really popular right now for bonding events and get-togethers with your friends!


People of all skill ranges come here along with people who have never skated before so do make the trip here! It may even help you decide whether skating rolls with you! (i am too punny for my own good...) :


https://www.hirollersingapore.com/


For advice from experienced skaters


For some advice on skating from a experienced veteran skater, I highly recommend looking into Michelle Steilen aka Estro Jen (her roller derby name) who is the founder of leading roller skating brand ‘Moxi Roller Skates’ in Long Beach, USA. Her life story and interview on skating can be found below in this well-made video by The Idea Factory:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzpMHHdbpe8


“this could possibly be...as the worlds changing, an acceptable shoe in the future...We could all be rolling around!” -Michelle Steilen

Learning skating skills


For learning the hard skills and tricks of skating, as mentioned earlier I relied heavily on tutorial videos from this Youtube Channel ‘Dirty School of Skate’ and Dirty Deborah Harry, who lives in Long beach California, will teach you how to skate and reassure those who are starting out not to worry and just have fun!I highly recommend the channel!!! The link can be found below :


https://www.youtube.com/c/DirtySchoolofSkate



Conclusion

All in all, even though the learning curve for rollerskating may be extremely steep in the beginning, fret not! In no time, you’ll be gliding and dancing happily to your favourite Spotify playlist once you get the hang of it after a bit of hard work and practice!


~With love, see you in the next article! ~


(Don’t hesitate to comment on the article if you need help or have questions on picking up skating!!!)





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