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.

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

This sends the unfortunate message that black skaters and their beloved activity didn’t really matter until white people discovered it.
On top of that, some were quick to capitalize on new-found clout, taking credit for, and profiting from, dances and skills they took from the culture, but did not create.

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, 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.

San Francisco Skaters Showcase – Rhythm Nation 30th Anniversary Roller Tribute

Prologue: For this years San Francisco Skaters showcase, I knew that I wanted to do something for the 30th Anniversary of the Rhythm Nation album. Let me tell you something, when you put on that Rhythm Nation uniform, it literally changes your DNA, molecules SHIFTED. I pulled on the final glove and immediately felt different; stronger, focused, determined.

As a bit of background, I first got into roller skating after a life changing injury to my hand. Over the years, I’ve developed additional cervical spine damage related to the ways my body has compensated for not having the full use of my hand. It’s been about 12 years since I’ve “danced with my arms” and I while I was preparing for this performance, I quickly discovered just how much mobility I had lost during that time. Only with the help of a physical therapist, and personal trainer I was able to pull this off in any capacity.
(There’s some real pain in those goofy faces, and I still can’t lift my arms right. lol)

It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but I love any chance I get to remind people of Janet’s timeless legacy and her messages of positivity and love. I hope you enjoy it too. 

CREDITS:
6th Avenue Skatin’ Place – Skaters’ Showcase 2019 – 7/14/2019
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California.
Video: Kenny Hoff
Music: Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (Jack Roeby’s 20th Anniversary Megamix) (edited)
Original Choreography: Anthony Thomas, Terry Bixler
Special Thanks:
Junior Hubbard / JanFam: The Movement
Pacific THERx Physical Therapy
Kevin Monroy
Janet Jackson
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If you’d like to see the rest of the performances from the show, the amazing Kenny Hoff has professionally recorded them for all to enjoy!!
Visit the full playlist below:

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

A return to the classics…

Thinking a lot about inspiration and motivation lately as I look to re-invigorate my own skate practice. I went back to some of the videos that were out when I first started skating (almost 10 years ago).  I’m reminded that what attracted me to this type of skating was the musicality, the finesse and the smoothness of the moves.

Here’s a collection of videos that inspired me over the years, I hope you will enjoy them as well!

This footwork:

 

Like butter…

No excuse not to practice!

This was the place, and the people that started it all for me. Cal Skate Milpitas.

Soul Skate Detroit 2018

The Soul Skate event takes place in Detroit, Michigan over Memorial Day weekend every 2 years. I finally had a chance to check it out!

It’s kind of crazy how I grew up here and had no idea about the rich skating culture that has existed there for decades. Thanks to the Soul Skate crew for an amazing time!

Here’s a few videos to give you a glimpse of the action.

The skate crews were out in full force with killer routines!

I even got to witness some of MY favs in person!

You can watch the entire playlist here. Enjoy!!

Overcoming the Fear of Falling

One of the biggest obstacles that new or returning skaters face is the fear of falling.
Surprisingly, it’s not always the bumps and the bruises that will keep you down, it’s your mindset.

Watch below as I string together some sentences on the topic of falling.

Note: I do mention some fundamental techniques that are not actually shown in the video. For safety, I highly recommend learning those with an in-person instructor.
To find an instructor near you, search this database of SkateIA Instructors

More videos to come on various aspects of skating, so stay tuned!

The Wonder Mix

Every year, the Golden Gate Park roller skaters put on a showcase filled with fun dance routines.

I was hesitant to participate this year because I had pulled a muscle, which was taking a long time to heal and I wasn’t skating at the level I wanted to be at for a “performance.”

But at the last minute, I let all that go, and decided to put 2 of my favorite things together; Janet Jackson and Wonder Woman!

Enjoy this funky mash-up!!

CREDITS:
• Song: Janet Jackson – Dammn Baby
• Wonder Woman Theme remix: Brittany Taylor https://youtu.be/h5KvCNsundA
• Addtl. Instrumental arrangement/stabs: https://www.instagram.com/mrklynik/

Special thanks to Kenny Hoff for capturing the moment!

Featured Photo: Justin Link

2Raw Spring Skate Jam 2017 – Highlights

Another amazing event from the 2Raw Skate Club took place April 14-16 in Citrus Heights, CA.

FRIDAY – The Warmup
DJ Soulnificent (Maryland)

I pulled a muscle the weekend before, so I was a little nervous going into the weekend. I knew I wanted to go all out, but I didn’t want to make the injury worse. Friday was mostly about saying hello and giving hugs to my skate family. DJ Soulnificent had us groovin though, it was a great warmup.

Skates = smiles!! 😉


Above Photo: Denyse Jones

Saturday – The Main Event
DJ Joe Bowen (Chicago)

I was still skate buzzing from Friday night that I hardly slept! Unfortunately, I didn’t make it out to the park for the annual BBQ, but I knew I needed to conserve my energy.

For SIX hours, DJ Joe Bowen kept the flow going. Amazing set, I skated my injured tush off. (ow)

This time, I hit the floor with my camera to capture some of the action. Enjoy the 2Raw experience from my POV.

J’Roc Henderson

Golden Gate Park Skaters visit 2Raw!

Kelvin brings the Chicago flavor

Killer Routine

Find your nearest adult skate party at skategroove.com