Sunday, April 22, 2007

Roller skating culture

Occasionally—on an off-practice night—I go to the local skating rink for a change of pace. It's a very different scene from a roller derby practice: most of the skaters are dance skaters (skate dancers?), so they're all jamming and swizzling erratically all over the place. Not that they're out of control (far from it); it's just that I'm used to skating around a huge rink with only ~10 other girls on it, all of which are skating more or less straight ahead; whereas at Skate King there are dozens of people on a small rink, and they're all swooping in and out of each other and twirling around and stuff. It's unnerving at first, but one girl pointed out to me that it's actually really good practice in balance and control. If you can learn to stop on a dime or swerve quickly to avoid running into the dancers, it'll help you when you're in a derby pack (swerving to avoid people who fall in front of you).

The thing that I find most interesting about Skate King is the people who skate there. More specifically, that there is absolutely no way to categorize them (or to describe the "average skater"). These are people who you'd never imagine seeing together in one place: the clean-cut skate dancer pirouetting in her flouncy skirt; the white trash girls in their tight jeans and hoop earrings; the guy who looks like my grandpa (big coke-bottle lenses, baseball cap, hands in his pockets); the ghetto guys with their oversized jerseys and sagging pants; the autistic boy who talks to no one but skates like a lightning bolt; the super-queer dancer showing off his perfectly sculpted thighs in Lycra; the fast-talking guys showing off their moves to the high school girlies. It's like a casting call for a giant diversity poster, only everyone's made the cut. And they're all perfectly happy skating together, exchanging words as they pass each other, racing each other for a lap or line-dancing together in the middle of the rink.

Who'd've though that roller skating—something most of my contemporaries seem to view as an elementary school fad—could be such a great equalizer?

No comments: