Health & WellbeingLifestyle & Culture

The Revival of the Roller Skate

Roller Skates are back, baby. Olivia Beveridge dishes on the rise of this iso trend.

I remember when I was about ten digging out a pair of my mums old roller skates and thinking they were so cool! A pair of chunky white skates with faded red laces that probably should’ve been replaced some time in the 80s. Who would’ve thought that twelve years later they would be all the rage.

Quarantine has meant so many of us have decided to pick up new hobbies to fill our time; sewing, painting and surprisingly roller-skating. The rising trend can be largely credited to TikTok after user, Ana Coto, posted a video of her cruising along to J-Lo’s ‘Jenny from the Block’. The video is now at over 12 million views and the #rollerskating has nearly 500 million views on the app.

TikTok has been ground zero for a number of trends but none that have been quite so widespread. The sudden rise in popularity has led to many stores selling out, such as online retailer DollsKill who’s been out of stock of the Impala brand skates for weeks now. Quad skates seem to be the poison of choice, because if we’re going to do it, it may as well be with some retro nostalgia.

While there are no more roller rinks in Newcastle, there’s still plenty of places to skate, such as at netball courts, along the Fernleigh track, and even just your own driveway. Skate Connection at Westfield still has a sturdy stock of skates ranging from the high-end Moxi skates to the more budget-friendly Impala skates, plus they’ll order in your size for you so you don’t have to pay for shipping.

I myself bought a pair at the beginning of quarantine, and while I’m still pretty terrible here’s some tips and tricks I’ve picked up.

Safety First:
They might not look super cute but protective gear is a MUST when starting out! A helmet, knee pads and wrist guards will save you a lot of pain and will help with your skating confidence – not getting hurt makes you a lot less scared of falling down. If you really wanna be covered you can buy a pack from most skating and sport stores that include knee and elbow pads and wrist guards.

Bend Your Knees:
It sounds pretty basic right? Bending your knees is key to keeping your balance, and will help you to gain momentum.

Don’t Look Down:
Just like in any other activity that requires good balance keeping your eyes straight ahead is key. The head is the heaviest part of your body so looking down can quickly throw off your equilibrium and send you tumbling – lucky you’ve got your protective gear on!

Toe Stop? Stop That!
Just because they’re there doesn’t mean you should use your toe stops all willy-nilly. Incorrect use of your toe stops can result in ankle injuries (trust me, I learnt that the hard way). The best time to use your toe stops is when skating backwards, but if you really want to use them when starting out, you should bring your knee down towards the ground to help keep you upright and not flying head over heels. Some easier alternatives to stop are: the T-stop (where you bring one foot in horizontal to the other to form a T), and the plow stop (as you skate bring your legs out a little wider than your shoulders then slowly glide them in to make a V with your toes, remember to keep your knees bent).

Check Your Wheel Speed
Most of the time new skates will arrive already tightened correctly, but its always good to double check. Your wheels shouldn’t be able to move too far up and down on the axle, but likewise they shouldn’t be so tight that you have to force them to roll. To check you’ll need a skate tool or a wrench to tighten or loosen. First give your wheels a good spin, they should spin smooth like butter but not move across. If they don’t seem right then give them a quarter turn with your tool and try again.

Wheel Bearings

Image from WA Roller Derby. Edited

Tunes To Play While You Skate Away
Of course you need some quality background music to prove your the main character in your roller-skating daydreams, so here are some bops I recommend:

  • ‘Wait a Minute!’ by WILLOW
  • ‘Brand New Key’ by Melanie Safka
  • ‘Jenny from the Block’ by Jennifer Lopez
  • ‘I wish’ by Skee-Lo
  • ‘The Impression That I Get’ by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • ‘Sunday Morning’ by No Doubt
  • ‘The Less I Know the Better’ by Tame Impala
  • ‘Y U Gotta B Like That’ by Audrey Mika
  • ‘Break My Heart’ by Dua Lipa
  • ‘Cinnamon’ by Hayley Williams

Feature Image by Phoebe Metcalfe, Yak Media Designer 

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