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.
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.
If it wasn’t for a black man, Bill Butler, we’d all likely still be skating to organ music at the local rink.
Since Co-vid19, many skaters are just now discovering quad skating outdoors. However, one of the countries’ longest-running advocates for outdoor roller skating is a black man, David Miles Jr. out of San Francisco, CA.
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.
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.
Tune in to HBO February 18th at 8 p.m. ET/PT and immerse yourself in an incredible skating world many never knew existed!!
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
For any skaters who also like gaming, The Sims 4 + Seasons Expansion pack offers your Sims the joy of roller skating (and ice skating)!
I decided to create a “White Chocolate” Sim, and it turns out, she’s a better skater than me!
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!
No excuse not to practice!
This was the place, and the people that started it all for me. Cal Skate Milpitas.
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!