No one can skate like you.

Very often new skaters take up skating because they were inspired by other skaters (which is great!), but get frustrated comparing themselves to someone who has been skating much longer. (not so great.) 

This also applies when it comes to style – if you find that after significant practice you look and feel stiff doing a particular move, it may be that that move just doesn’t work for your body. (This is common in the professional dance world. What works for one performer may not look good on another.) 

Side bar: Listen to this clip from world renowned choreographer Tina Landon discussing the challenges for choreographing for Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson at the same time. (14:35 minute mark)

For example, I wish I could dance like Janet Jackson or Gene Kelly, but I’m not made that way. I had to take the things I appreciated about those artists and find what works for my own body to create my own vibe and style. 

(I mean…who wouldn’t want to skate like that?)

I actually started roller skating after a neuromuscular disorder called focal dystonia severely limited the use of my hand and nearly ended my career as an artist. I also developed cervical spine issues because of the ways that my body had compensated over the years. I have to be mindful of my body so as to not inadvertently do more harm.
  
When I skate, I always hook a towel in my hand to hide my odd hand posture. After awhile, it became a prop when I dance – just a part of my unique style.

Photo: Andre Cates/ Gliders Captured Moments

Who really wants to watch a bunch of people skating exactly the same and doing the same moves anyway? That’s kinda boring.

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

– Oscar Wilde

Allow yourself to be a beginner give yourself time to find YOUR style and what feels good to YOUR body.

Another skater may be waiting to be inspired by YOUR unique style and and build from that! 

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. 

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; positioning themselves as the gatekeepers of some sort of skating “revival,” 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.

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.

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
—-
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:

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!)