While the first recorded use of rollerskates was in London in 1743, according to good old Wikipedia, the hobby has grown around the world – most notably in the United States where there is a subculture like no other. From Beyonce sashaying in a Houston roller rink in the music video for ‘Blow’ to the great and good on Instagram, you can find a host of roller rinks where the US guys and gals make moves and tricks with skills that make your eyes water. In Germany, Oumi Janta’s carefree skating in yellow has become iconic too.
In the UK we’ve seen roller rinks close in the last couple of years, but there has been a visible resurgence over the lockdown period. I spoke to those who have been skating for years and those who have just taken it up amid one of the strangest years in living memory.
Ishariah Johnson, aka ‘Stormskater’ is a seasoned skater – some would say a UK skating legend.
“During Covid people have been thinking about their childhood skating, how they could do twists and spins, but they think they can do that now and it’s easy, but that is [a] delusion!” she laughs.
Ishariah has seen the scene grow gradually.
“My main skating crew is at Fix8 in Wembley,” she says. “Our rinks are not like the US rinks. Roller skating and street skating originated here, but in the US, their skating rinks are from generation to generation, whereas ours are kind of new. As for styles in the UK, we kind of focus on speed and do the ‘chop’ whereas in the US they focus on rhythm.”