Ah, the 70s. What a time to be alive. For ages, the era was considered totally uncool because it was our parents’ heyday and there’s no way our parents could ever be cool, but as time goes on, what’s old becomes new again. I mean, have you looked at Forever 21 lately?
Ladies and gentlemen, the 70s are back. We’ve got sparkly bell bottom jumpsuits, rainbow stripes, feathered hair, and hopefully, another presidential impeachment – fingers crossed. But the one thing I really want to come back in style is roller skating.
Remember that time in That 70’s Show when Jackie and Fez entered a roller disco competition and Kelso tried to sabotage them?
Remember that other time Olivia Newton-John was a Greek muse and inspired that guy to open up a roller disco club by singing Electric Lights Orchestra songs to him, and his royal majesty, Gene Kelly was for some reason there, too?
Does all of that not look wicked fun, though? This hobby/sport has been a Los Angeles staple for years, and those easy breezy Cali girls skating down the Venice Beach boardwalk are iconic to that West Coast vibe. The YouTube channel Indy Jamma Jones has recently gone viral for featuring a clan of badass skate ladies who perform tricks, share tutorials, and review equipment. Just to give you a taste on how sick these chicks are, check this out:
Skateboarding has been a boys’ club for most of its life, and while there are plenty of amazing lady skateboarders, roller skating seems to have been adopted by women wearing sparkly hot pants and tube socks, which I 100% live for.
I believe it is absolutely time to bring that West Coast skate aesthetic to us here in the North Coast so we can put our own spin on it. Detroit women are a hearty breed, a combination of cold weather, industrial hustle, and the Motown sound making us the grooviest cats in the Midwest who aren’t afraid to eat shit once in a while. If all of us put on a pair of skates and hit the rink in 2019, I’m sure our unique skate style could easily become iconic to this city.
It’s OK, I already picked out our team name: Sk8 Mile. Pretty sick, huh? Copyright Natalie Berger, 2019. Don’t steal it, pretty please.
We are a little bit on our way, because roller derby is already pretty huge here. How could we forget the Detroit Derby Girls being featured in our favorite 2009 skate movie, Whip It? While roller derby is fun, it’s definitely a departure from dance skating. Also, this past November, Rainbow City Roller Rink opened in a high rise just off of Campus Martius Park in Downtown Detroit. The funky installation featured cool sculptures and a striped floor with free admission and skate rentals. Unfortunately, this pop-up rink was only temporary, closing at the end of January.
While there isn’t anything shiny and new at the moment for the dance skaters out there, we always have the old staples we frequented as kiddos like Skate World of Troy and Northland Roller Rink to get our practice in. However, the adult-only skate times are pretty limited at both locations, and as much as I love kids, small people on fast wheels frighten me a tad.
My New Year’s resolution was to learn to skate like the cool West Coast girls… but first I just needed to learn to skate in general since I haven’t put wheels on my feet since middle school. So, I bullied my friends into hitting up the rink. I figured that we would be the only ones there except for maybe a few old disco divas who haven’t taken off their skates since the 70s, but there were actually loads of people… and a ton of them were about my age. And they were really, really good. So, catch me looking like a fool spending most of the night falling on my ass while everyone else was skating backwards and doing spins. This one older guy looked like a straight-up Swan Queen ballerina on skates or something, swishing gracefully around me as I struggled to stand up. Skating is definitely a lot harder than I remember it being as a kid.
After getting myself a pair of deeply-bruised knees that night, I went out and bought some knee pads so I could try again. While I was there, I (literally) ran into another girl who was wearing the signature purple Moxie skates Indy Jamma Jones wears in her videos. I asked her about them, and we raved about how much we love watching that channel and how it inspired us to give roller skating a shot after a ten-year hiatus.
So, badass ladies of Detroit, I ask thee a favor: If you’re a baby giraffe on wheels like me, put on those skates and watch all the tutorials YouTube has to offer. If you are already a derby gal or dance skating queen, please adopt us and show us the way to the light. This is the year we take over, because can you imagine how cool a skate trick video happening in the Packard Plant would be??? I’m totally getting ahead of myself because I need to learn to actually, like, make the skates move. But we’ll iron out those details later. See you at the rink!