Big hair, neon hairbands, hip-hop sounds and statement skates… It seems we’ve catapulted back to the 1970s with the return of the super fun, energetic pastime: roller skating.
What was once the activity reserved for tweens' birthday parties and throwback date nights, roller skating has seen a real resurgence over the last two years and we’re all for it. From croqueting to baking, just like a lot of lockdown hobbies, there’s been a renaissance on the roller front, with just about everyone flocking to the streets to see if they have what it takes to skate into the night.
At the peak of the pandemic, we began seeing its popularity exceed at experiential rates. From Gen Z taking to Instagram and TikTok to film their new tips and tricks to local skate parks taken over by amateur skaters giving roller blades a go, it’s no wonder that we quickly saw a global shortage of roller skates back in the summer of 2020. One skater who took to social media was Singapore born, Rachel Rae who quickly garnered a following of over 50k almost overnight.
Having moved to England for university, once she graduated she began working at a corporate job whilst trying to navigate the multiple Covid lockdowns. It’s here, like many other Gen Z, she found her love for skating. “I grew up playing all kinds of sports in school such as volleyball, basketball, boxing, and tried rollerblading as a kid,” she said before revealing it wasn’t until lockdown that she put her skates back on. “Because the rinks were closed, I stumbled onto roller skating and artistic roller skating through a friend and that same night I bought my first pair of roller skates.”
With over 7.5billion tuning into the #rollerskating hashtag on TikTok and over 2.5million hashtags on Instagram, it’s clear to see this movement is here to stay. Skating has been around for decades. It’s often thought that the 70s kicked off the popular pastime, but it stems further back in history and prominently in the 1960s where Black skaters were discriminated against due to the racial segregation happening across rinks in America.
Fast forward to the present day, Rachel is just one of thousands of folk who have flocked to the internet to share her skating journey, bringing skating back into centrefold once more. She says, “I'm so grateful to have built this profile since lockdown and found such an inclusive and supportive community online which I've now been able to meet in person!”
With summer around the corner, now’s the perfect time to dust off those old skates and see if you’ve got what it takes but knowing where to start is often the hardest part. For beginners, Rachel recommends “starting with some basics like forward skating, two foot pumping, plough stops, inside and outside edges and backwards skating.
“Learning a safe way to fall and which protective gear to use is also very important, as falling is necessary to improve and part of the fun process of learning!”
Finding the right place to get skating is also vital. Rachel tells us that there are plenty of parks around London that are great for whizzing around, and London is home to several skating meet ups too, but for indoor rinks Roller Nation is where you’ll catch the self-confessed skaters working on their techniques.
But where do you start when it comes to finding the right skates? “I’d definitely recommend GH skates as they are especially suitable for any beginners,” says Rachel. Beginners should look to “the magic quad skate from GH skates because it's a beginner skate that still has great ankle support and adjustable toe stops. The site has many options from beginner to advanced boot and plate options which means it's totally customisable for your needs!” From colourful sets to simple and understated, there’s the opportunity to grab a pair of skates that suit you and your personality, helping to add to the fun of the activity too. Even if you fall hopelessly over regularly you can at least look cute…
Whether you’ve dipped your toe into the activity before or you’re a complete beginner, skating is the perfect summer trend to try out this year.