Outdoor Skaters Unite!

Philly skater Cohen Thompson has been making headlines for his incredible skating ability, and once again for his efforts to bring outdoor roller skating to his community.

So happy to see that community leaders are supporting this. Too often I’ve seen skaters shooed out of public parks and recreation areas just for trying to exercise the way they choose.

Why do cities prioritize space for tennis courts for a chosen few, when we could invest in multi-purpose areas for more varied interests and serve more of the community?

Now that more skaters are having to roll outside, due to the Co-vid19 pandemic, conversations with our community leaders and park officials are going to be very important. Skaters are going to need to coordinate and show up in numbers so that we can’t be ignored.

A few years ago, I interviewed one of the most successful community advocates for outdoor roller skating. David Miles Jr., San Francisco’s “Godfather of Skate.” Over the last 40 years, he has developed a very vibrant and successful skate community producing over 2000 skate events, many which have been featured in national magazines including Sports Illustrated and on the front page of newspapers throughout the country.

Since arriving in California from Kansas City in 1979, D has developed great working relationships with the local government in the city and county of San Francisco to create a positive image for skaters and help implement laws that benefit skaters.

Here again are his thoughts on how to start, and grow a thriving outdoor skating community in your city!

David Miles Jr. is the owner of the Church of 8 Wheels, San Francisco, CA. Since co-vid shut down his rink, he recently added an online skate shop offering official Church of 8 Wheels skates, wheels and accessories.

Black Roller Skating Appreciation Post

The recent rash of headlines touting the new “TikTok roller skating trend” reminded me a lot about why I started my website and social media pages back in 2014.

I was struck by how often media coverage on roller skating was centered around white women in some strange, exclusionary form of “girl power.” I had been an avid roller skater for nearly 5 years by then. Although I am white, I didn’t look like that, and neither did the people I skated with. My intention was to use my privilege to amplify those who weren’t being seen.

Many of these articles centered skating around white influencers and erased the African-American communities that have been nurturing and elevating this activity for decades. 

On top of that, some were quick to capitalize; positioning themselves as the gatekeepers of some skating “revival.” Never turning down the spotlight, they could be seen taking credit for, and profiting from, dances and skills they took from the culture, but did not create.

Both types of passive and active whitewashing send the unfortunate message that black skaters and their beloved activity didn’t really matter until white people discovered it. It also prevents black talent from receiving any media recognition or compensation.

Despite black skaters’ apparent erasure from the press, they have had some of the most significant impact on our culture.

Even the film makers of the 2018 HBO documentary “United Skates” embarked on their original journey thinking that roller skating was dying off with the last of the original New York “roller disco” skaters. They soon learned that there was a whole vibrant movement of adult roller skating they’d never heard of. To their credit, they worked tirelessly with those skaters for over 5 years to get their story told on a bigger scale.

Prior to that, Tyrone Dixon released his independent documentary, “8 Wheels and some Soul Brotha Music” in 2004 to critical acclaim. Without these films, the media has virtually ignored black roller skating culture.

In an attempt to course correct, some authors have recently taken up the cause to remind people how the roots of modern skating stem from the civil rights movement. While skating does indeed bears roots in the struggle of racism, we must not overlook the positive and joyful contributions the black community has made to modern skating culture.

When the media continues to portray skaters as majority white, retro, eye candy, or conversely when black skaters are only represented by their racial trauma, they are missing out on the cutting edge of music, dance, fashion, style, etc.

This is a vibrant and important culture still fighting racist policies, continued gentrification, and historical erasure. Black skaters deserve to have their contributions acknowledged, respected and appreciated at the forefront of cultural conversations, not as a footnote.

A letter to the SF Planning Commission regarding The Church of 8 Wheels building proposal.

roller skating rinks under threat of development gentrification article Church of 8 Wheels may be bulldozed for development

Dear Members of the San Francisco Planning Committee,

I’m writing in regards to the proposed plans for 554 Fillmore, currently operating as The Church of 8 Wheels.

I think we’re all well aware of the struggle for affordable housing in the city. However, it seems that this developer seeks to use the housing scarcity to their own benefit, not that of the SF community and its residents.

My concern lies with the fact that the owner/developer purchased the land and building at 554 Fillmore with the full knowledge of the historical value and structural requirements of the former Sacred Heart Church, but now wants the rules to be changed in favor of their development.

What message would a committee approval send to other developers? Do we want to set the precedent that rules and regulations really don’t mean anything so long as the promise is large enough?

If these variances are allowed, a mere 36 people will be able to utilize this building. This limits housing benefits to a few, while separating thousands from the human benefits of health, fitness, connection and fellowship that recreational activities provide to its communities.

The Church of 8 Wheels is also a highly visible positive tourist attraction for San Francisco, frequently featured in airports and in-flight media. However, a new techie dorm crammed with people with no exposure to natural light or air is likely to attract a different kind of attention, a PR nightmare for the city.

So let me ask you, is 36 larger than THOUSANDS?
If you ask me, that math just doesn’t add up.

I am asking that the city reject these variances in accord with keeping the best interests of ALL of San Francisco residents in mind, not just a few.

Thank you for your consideration.

Motown Skate Night – March 2, 2019

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We had so much fun doing the Janet Jackson Roller Disco tribute a few years ago, the folks at The Church of 8 Wheels have graciously let me take over the booth for another great theme night! MOTOWN.
Just on the tail of #BlackHistoryMonth, we’ll be celebrating the 60 year anniversary of the Motown sound – on wheels!

Detroit is one of the original birthplaces of modern “dance skating” and is also the home of “Soul Skate,” one of the biggest, national adult skate jams.

Early Detroit skaters had to fight segregation during the civil-rights era, but once they were allowed in, they changed the game! Thanks to pioneering skaters like Bill Butler, who brought their jazz records to the rink, we have the modern flavor and styles that we all enjoy today!

Come down and enjoy 4 hours of great Motown hits plus lots of classic R&B, Soul & Funk to skate to!

Click to go to Facebook Event page

United Skates premieres on HBO February 18, 2019

Tune in to HBO February 18th at 8 p.m. ET/PT and immerse yourself in an incredible skating world many never knew existed!!

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United Skates spotlights a community of thousands who fight in a racially charged environment to save the underground African-American subculture of roller skating. It’s a world that has been overlooked by the mainstream for generations while giving rise to great musical talents.

Directed and produced by Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown, United Skates received the Documentary Audience Award at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival among dozens of other awards.

Rolling Stone online just shared an intriguing new trailer for the film!
WATCH HERE

United Skates Documentary – San Francisco Event!

FILM SCREENING
The United Skates Documentary is finally coming to the Bay Area! SF Doc Stories 2018 has chosen to showcase the film at this year’s film festival!
Come and see the film, and bring friends and family so they too can learn about this amazing art form and community!

November 4, 2018, 4:30 p.m
SFMOMA – Wattis Theater
151 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

PURCHASE MOVIE TICKETS
https://www.sffilm.org/screenings-and-events/united-skates


POP UP ROLLER SKATING AFTER PARTY

Lace up and join us for a pop-up roller skating party to celebrate the SF premiere of UNITED SKATES and the last day of Doc Stories!

Skate rentals will be available, but you’re encouraged to bring your own.

November 4, 2018, 7-11 p.m.
Dogpatch Dance & Yoga
435 23rd Street
Suite 18-19
San Francisco, CA 94107

PLEASE RSVP FOR ADMISSION
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reels-on-wheels-doc-stories-united-skates-after-party-tickets-51300595462?discount=RollerSkateFriends

Roll With Soul® Skate Tees

A few years into my skating journey, I was frustrated that I never could find any roller skating themed apparel that reflected the community of skaters that I belonged to. That’s when I started creating new roller skating themed shirt designs, and eventually launched Roll With Soul® skate gear!

In my 20+ year career as a professional designer, I’ve designed apparel for some of the biggest names in entertainment including Usher, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Coldplay, and even classic bands like The Beatles.

So you know these are premium designs you’ll LOVE to show off at your next skate party. That’s because they are designed by a SKATER, for SKATERS.

SHOP TODAY: Roll With Soul Shop

(Make sure to join my facebook page, to receive news on sales and discount codes!)

How to Start a Skate Movement in Your Town

One of the things that frustrates roller skaters the most is the struggle to find a safe place to skate.
Rinks across the country are closing due to skyrocketing costs of land and insurance. Some places don’t even have rinks.
It’s a hardknock life, for us!

During my skating journey, I’ve been lucky to meet and work with one of the most successful community advocates for roller skating here in San Francisco. David Miles Jr. The Godfather of Skate. Over the last 3 decades, he has developed a very vibrant and successful skate community producing over 2000 skate events, many which have been featured in national magazines including Sports Illustrated and on the front page of newspapers throughout the country.

Since arriving in California from Kansas City in 1979, David has developed great working relationships with the local government in the city and county of San Francisco to create a positive image for skaters and help implement laws that benefit skaters.

I thought I would go straight to the source when it comes to finding out how to he created all this from the ground up. So during a break between sessions at the popular “Church of 8 Wheels” I asked him to share some ideas on how anyone can do it in their own community.

Straight from the Godfather to you…

Be sure to let me know if you start something in your community. You can comment below, or join me on Facebook and tell us about it!
Keep Rollin!!