Have you laced up your skates and hit the pavement recently? If so, you’re not alone. A quirky pastime since its invention in the late 1700s, roller-skating’s popularity had been on a slow rise for the past decade. But when the pandemic disrupted people’s normal routines in 2020, roller skaters began taking over streets and skate parks. Nearly overnight, skates of all kinds
were selling out worldwide.
It’s easy to understand why: Roller-skating is the ultimate pandemic-era sport. The current “roller revival” gave skaters of every age the ability to exercise, get fresh air, and make new friends—all while staying a safe distance apart.
“The coolest part was the community connection a lot of roller skaters [started] making,” says Olive Kaplan of Pigeon’s Roller Skate Shop in Long Beach, California. “Folks were able to explore the multitude of ways they could roller skate, from jam skating to skating at the skate park to roller derby.” (Jam skating combines dancing, gymnastics, and roller-skating.)
As notable as roller-skating’s popularity was during 2020, though, it’s nothing new for the sport’s history. From America’s quad skate craze in the 1850s to Britain’s “rinkomania” in the 1910s to the roller disco fad of the 1970s, roller-skating has always been ready for its next resurgence. The only difference now? You get to join in the fun!