Rollerskating is Not a Trend – Understanding & Respecting Skate Culture
Rollerskating is rooted in Black culture, and the style, technique, and dance moves that have captivated so many of us have been created by and kept alive by Black rollerskaters worldwide long before many of us were skating. Contrary to what you might have read over the last 2 years, rollerskating did not make a “come-back” during the pandemic, and using such language is harmful and undermines the history of where the sport comes from.
For non-Black skaters, there is a responsibility to become educated and knowledgeable on where the roller style comes from, and the origins of iconic jamskate and rollerdance moves. When learning and posting videos of rink moves, it is required to learn from and credit the originator.
“Style Roller Skating
An athletic art form comprised of numerous regional tempo based roller skating styles; a unique mixture of stride, stroke, footwork and movements to set tempos; it is the fusion of music culture and roller skating.
Style’ roller skating developed in the African American community when roller rinks began to use [vinyl] records at public roller skating sessions. During the late 1950’s roller skating rinks began to convert from playing organ music to playing popular records during public roller skating sessions. Skaters who hat [waltzed] to the sound of pipe organs began to roller skate to the same music they heard on the radio. Just as the music industry has had a profound impact on other areas of America’s artistic and social culture it impacted roller skating. The way skaters moved around the roller rink began to change, the entire body of skaters was transforming; skate innovators and daredevils who had always added their unique variations, stunts, and tricks, began to take things to a new level. Playing records meant an infusion of all types of music; no longer was the music mono, and there was a full range of instruments and beats to move to. As the country entered its musical revolution, black roller skaters began putting together the movements, strides, and steps that is “STYLE’ roller skating.”
- Tasha and Norbert “Smooth” Klusmann from the National African American Roller Skating Archive at the Sk8-a-Thon in Atlanta
Rinks and skate communities across the world have regional styles and signature movements, click the link below to read more about each unique style and watch videos.
- Some regional styles, with many more
- JB “James Brown” Style (Chicago)
- NY Style (New York)
- Trains & Trios (North-East)
- Bill Butler “Jammin’” Style
- Snapping (Washington, DC; Baltimore)
- Fast Backwards (Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware)
- Detroit Open House Slide (Detroit)
- Rexing (Pittsburgh)
- Cali Slide (California)
- Slow Walk
- Richard Humphrey’s Rollerdance Style
Resources to follow and better educate yourself: