“When I add my own flare it makes it more fun,” said Madisson Eaton (@punkygirlsk8s), a Pacific Beach roller skater who has been skating for the last three years.
For Eaton, that flare includes a “flow” type of skating where she can slow down and focus on choreography.
“One of my biggest dreams is to be able to just skate and just not have to worry about hitting anything ... just close my eyes and be in total zen,” Eaton said.
Eaton noted she also enjoys working on more technical moves at the skatepark, like trying to do a no-handed cartwheel – also known as an aerial – without touching the wall.
Kara Simpson (@karashredz), who began roller skating in June 2020 and considers herself “strictly an aggressive park skater,” said she is working on mastering a variety of flips.
“If you can’t already tell, I love being upside down!” Simpson said.
For other roller skaters, like Brie Olsen (@beepbeepbrie), the fun is not necessarily the tricks and techniques, but the outfits she wears while skating.
“I just show up in skates and dress fun,” Olsen said.
Olsen began roller skating in August 2020 and is a frequent participant of Sunset Roller Club’s (@sunsetrollerclub) themed skates where roller skaters meet up dressed in costumes. The latest themes include dressing like it’s prom and impersonating a pop star for the evening.
One of the club’s founders, Channon Medeiros (@thehawaiianwerewolf), said he wanted the Sunset Roller Club to offer a community for people amid the pandemic. Medeiros himself began roller skating during COVID-19. With all the gyms closed, Medeiros quickly fell in love with roller skating and even quit his nursing job to give roller skating lessons full time.
A little more than a year later, Medeiros said his goal is to “never stop having fun roller skating.”
While some roller skaters enjoy pairing their skates with a fun outfit, others are discovering a more classic combination by joining their love for roller skating with lowrider cars. Bayan Ghahramani (@persianskater), who has been roller skating nearly every day since December 2016, said she likes to go to lowrider cruises in Barrio Logan and dance in between the cars during the event. Ghahramani noted she now travels with different car shows across the country and coordinates specific choreographed dances with the drivers.
Ghahramani said she also enjoys connecting to her Persian heritage by belly dancing on her roller skates along the boardwalk in PB and Mission Beach while jamming to any kind of music with a beat.
“Any roller skater when they put roller skates on, at first they find their balance … then they start incorporating their own personality and culture into it,” Ghahramani noted.
While roller skating is an outlet for individual expression, there is also a sense of camaraderie among skaters.
Even if you’re new to the roller skating community, Ghahramani said, “The skating community is very accepting… you don’t have to know someone to go up to them and say ‘hey teach me a move,’ you just have to know that you both have skates.”
Ghahramani noted that during the pandemic, the number of roller skaters dramatically increased. And while the boardwalk may be slightly more crowded as a result, Ghahramani said she loves seeing new skaters show off their tricks on social media.
“It’s really cool that we have so many skaters because we get to learn so many different things from each other,” she said.
Eaton also commented that there is no specific age demographic when it comes to roller skating.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are,” Eaton said. “The boardwalk is for everyone.”
The pandemic and social media connections have played an undeniable role in the uptick in roller skating in recent years, according to business owner and rink hockey player, Christina Stang. Stang opened her Fritzy’s Roller Skate Shop at 4150 Mission Blvd. in Pacific Beach during the pandemic. She stated that online orders as well as the shop’s roller skate rentals have been especially successful, allowing newbies to try skating out on the nearby boardwalk before deciding whether to commit to a new pair of skates.
Stang noted, “It’s cool to see the San Diego community embrace roller skating for fitness.”
Fitness is indeed an important aspect of the activity for those in the roller-skating community. While newbies may feel achy learning to balance on a pair of skates for the first time, Ghahramani noted, “Skating doesn’t become a form of exercise until you gain your balance and you can move in it.”
That’s when the real perspiration begins, according to Ghahramani, who said roller skaters often bring towels to wipe off the sweat while they skate.
“It lets me get out of the house and move,” said Olsen, who added that she’s been tracking her miles while roller skating since October. Her goal is to get to a thousand miles by her one-year roller skating anniversary in August. Olsen noted she has about a hundred miles left until she reaches her goal.
But unlike taking time out of a busy day to go to the gym and work out, Olsen and Eaton said they both incorporate roller skating into their day-to-day errands. They manage to do this by taking note of which stores allow them to do their shopping on roller skates, and avoid places that don’t.
Aside from the physical benefits of roller skating, roller skaters say the activity has elevated their mental health. Ghahramani noted roller skating consistently helped her overcome anxiety.
“It was my lifesaver and then it started growing into an art-form too,” she said.
Olsen also noted that when she first started roller skating, she would sometimes go at night when it was most meditative for her. Even now, as more opportunities to be sponsored by brands and audition for commercials open up for her and other local roller skaters, Olsen said the most important thing is to: “Remember to have fun with it. If you’re not having fun with it, it’s not worth it.”
SOME OF THE BEST PLACES TO ROLLER SKATE OUTDOORS
– Liberty Station
– Mission Bay Park
– Mission Beach boardwalk
– Balboa Park
– Silver Strand
– Father Junipero Serra Trail
– Lake Murray