Thanks to quarantine and social distancing, the nostalgic activity is getting a boost in popularity.
The thing about skating rinks is they smell exactly like you remember them: a mix of popcorn, shoe cleaner and old, wood flooring. The smell is instantly recognizable, even if you haven’t been to a rink in more than two decades.
In mid-August at this particular rink, United Skates of America on Refugee Road, there’s a solid lunchtime crowd that consists mainly of a large group of kids from St. Stephen’s Community House and their adult chaperones.
Like a host of other outdoor activities (Remember trying to buy a bike two months ago?), roller skating has seen a resurgence thanks to COVID-19. Brands like Moxi, Impala and C7 are selling out of new skates as soon as they get a restock.
And then there’s social media, specifically TikTok and Instagram, which is home to a variety of skaters with growing followers lists. Not only have these viral skaters contributed to the sport’s surging popularity (@spicyivey, @fat_girl_has_moxi, @anaocto, @the_good_guy91 and @rollertravisreynolds are just a few of them), they’re also illustrating the diversity of roller skating. It’s important to note though, that roller skating, like everything else, is having a reckoning with racism as skaters of color speak out about whitewashing and silencing Black voices.
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