BHN Insider: Rolling back into Black communities, skating is a stylish exercise that is here to stay
By Black Headline News
In 2023, the roller-skating craze is back and beyond trending in Black communities throughout the nation, where adult-only roller-skating rinks are popping up all over the Midwest and the South.
The fun, fitness pastime, is becoming competitive, where skaters are rolling in dazzling, styled skate-wear and showing off innovative moves in the rink.
Mass inventor, John Joseph Merlin debuted his roller skates in a 1743 theater production, according to the JSTOR Daily. The Belgian-born Merlin used skating as a way to get more attention for his other inventions, like his weighing machine. He designed the first roller skates after he moved to London from Huy, Belgium, in 1760. Unfortunately, his skates lacked brakes, and he lacked balance. As he attempted to skate through a masquerade party while playing a violin, he promptly plowed into a mirror, broke his instrument, and ended up with severe injuries.
Roller skates were later redesigned by James Plimpton; as he wasn't very athletic in nature, his doctor recommended him to practice sport, recommending him to start ice skating to stay in shape. Plimpton was convinced that roller skating would have the same effect on his body as ice skating.
Thereafter according to the St. Croix Historical Society, the 1880 roller skating craze was launched.
JSTOR Daily reported that roller skating had been tied to Black social movements before and after the Civil Rights movements, although rinks remained segregated even after the 60s.
In the 1950s, skating rinks offered only one night per week where the Black community could come together. This night was originally called “Black Night,” but got changed to different code names such as “Soul Night” and “Martin Luther King Night” during the Civil Rights movement. Because everything was still segregated during this time, clothing and music policies discriminated against the stylization and culture of Black communities, according to criterionnow.com.
The 2017 documentary, Roller Dreams, documents how Black skaters and other minority groups were able to bypass segregated rinks, and skate outside in parks.
It was such a favorite pastime that places such as Central Park, New York and Los Angeles, CA were the first city sanctuaries for the Black skating culture. Venice Beach became a place of refuge from discrimination; it became the epicenter of roller dancing as displayed in 2017 documentary, Roller Dreams.
In 2023, the roller-skating craze is a healthy, stylish phenomena, where adult-only roller-skating rinks are popping up all over the Midwest and the South.
The fun, fitness pastime, is becoming competitive in Black communities, where skaters are rolling in dazzling, styled skate-wear and showing off innovative moves in the rink.