Everywhere around the world, people blame the pandemic for a long list of life changes; more entries on said list fall into the negative column.
Worries about our longevity and economy, frustration over online schooling and ongoing lockdowns and, through it all, an exasperated craving to return to life as we knew it. But life as we knew it would never have included rollerskating in your kitchen, bathroom or hallway, would it?
We can thank the pandemic for bringing about a resurgence of rollerskating.
Not that rollerskating ever fully went away. For over a century, people have been strapping wheels to their boots - and, eventually, lacing up wheeled boots to enjoy the carefree feeling that only skating can provoke.
Something happened in the mid-1980s to demolish rollerskating's popularity.
Inline skates, also called rollerblades, presented a sleeker, more dynamic version of skating as a sport. Soon, images of lean, tanned figures with rollerblades on their feet, skating in public spaces were beamed around the globe. A new sports craze had caught on.
Meanwhile, roller skates went the way of disco. Both were relegated to the far corners of the entertainment/sport world... until COVID forced us all to get creative in our exercising.
Now, countless Brits (and others around the globe) have once again fallen in love with rollerskating.
To celebrate (skating, not COVID!), Superprof toured select cities to find and report on the best rollerskating venues.
Roller Skating in London
If you only consider the City of London, it might seem that skating would be impossible. The sidewalks are cobbled and narrow and, while there are public squares aplenty, they too are not of the ideal surface skaters look for.
Besides, what with all the tourists who routinely pour into the city and it being the central business district, the Square Mile is far too crowded to get a good skate in. That is, when we're not in lockdown.
However, broadening our scope to include the entire city (small c), we find that opportunities for free skating abound. With all of her luscious green spaces and city parks, London is naturally a skater's paradise.
If that were all there was to the London skating scene, we wouldn't have written an entire article about it.
Fortunately, skating in London offers such a variety of venues, events and opportunities, we could expound on them at length and still have a few London skating facts left over to regale you here.
Roller Nation is a prime example of such. Located at 117 Bruce Grove, is poised to ride the modern rollerskating wave. Its manager, David French, has been in the skating business a long time; he oversaw the now-closed Renaissance Rooms in Vauxhall.
What he learned from managing that skating rink, along with his intuition that people have been rethinking life while in lockdown leads him to conclude that people won't necessarily return to their pre-pandemic way of life. Instead, they will want healthier, more engaging ways to spend their Friday and Saturday nights.
As soon as we're allowed to, feel free to prove him right.
Roller Skate in Brighton
London-by-the-sea has much to offer merrymakers and serious skaters alike. First, there's that gorgeous seafront, a prime holiday destination whose pier culminates in a charming amusement park. That's for the holidaymakers.
And then, there's the wonderful texture of the seafront that makes it a dream to skate on.
If you're thinking we're picking low hanging fruit with that assertion, you're absolutely right... but it makes for a nice segue into all of the skateparks scattered around town.
Brighton's network of skateparks provide fun, exercise and relief from stress and anxiety for hundreds of teens. If that sounds outlandish, you should get to know about the city's Go Skate Project, a programme offering free skateboard lessons to qualifying teens. These lessons come complete with skateboards and safety gear, and are led by certified instructors trained in adolescent mental healthcare.
Sure, you might think, that's for skateboards and for teens. What is there for roller skaters - and for skaters who are not teens?
BYC, the skatepark where those wellness lessons take place, is comparable to one of the most inclusive skateparks in Brighton, The Level.
You can read all about that most inclusive park, along with all of the other skateparks in Brighton, in our companion article.
Where to Roller Skate in Cardiff
If you're reading this, you must have some sort of interest in roller skating. How do you feel about ice skating?
Our trip through the capital of Wales revealed an overwhelming interest in bladed skates rather than wheeled ones, quad or inline. Still, there was evidence that the tide is turning, albeit slowly.
For one, there is a number of skateparks scattered across the city. For two, Cardiff has its own roller derby team, the Tiger Bay Brawlers. Far from the typical image the word 'brawler' conjures up, these skaters are skilled, focused and intent on bringing their passion for skating to the masses.
To make that happen, they offer skating lessons for every level of skating ability. If you've never so much as strapped on a pair of skate, they will teach you how to keep your feet from flying out from under you, how to do crossovers and take turns and - for some, the most important part of learning how to skate, how to stop without resorting to running into walls or other skaters.
They will also teach you how to fall without hurting yourself (too badly) because, let's face it, as you learn how to skate, you're going to fall a few times.
If you're a more experienced skater, you may take part in competitions they host and, if you're female, you may audition to join their team. Not that they have anything against male skaters but they are an all-female team.
Do roller derbies not interest you? Then check out all of the other skating ventures on offer in Cardiff...
Roller Rinks in Manchester
If ever there were a UK city on the cutting edge of everything, Manchester would be the one. It's nicknamed Madchester as a nod to its wild 80s music scene that yielded The Stone Roses and The Charlatans, among many acts.
Conversely, this city is also called Cottonopolis because of the major role it played during the First Industrial Revolution.
Now, it's easy to see that the city is poised on the brink of a roller-skating revolution.
It appears that Mancunians prefer indoor rollerskating to gliding around outdoors, as attested to by the many roller rinks versus the relative paucity of skateparks. On the other hand, Manchester has plenty of parks and paths, and the cityscape is nothing to sneeze at - all of which would suit an outdoor-loving skater well.
It was hard to tell if Manchester residents disdain skating outdoors as everyone is currently hunkered down, waiting for the lockdown to lift. Maybe they're just not fans of skateboarding, skateparks' target population.
So, what kind of roller rinks can you find in Manchester?
We really liked Projekts, an indoor skatepark with an outdoor component. It welcomes skaters of all abilities and all ages, with the caveat that under-16s must wear protective gear at all times, including a helmet. Their schedule reflects sessions meant for specific participants: adults and children, homeschoolers, ladies/girls only, and sessions for various levels of skating ability, the better to keep skaters safe.
As for how the facility is kitted out? Simply gorgeous. You have to read about Manchester's skate scene to believe how well-rounded Projekt is.
The Best Rollerskating in Leeds
Contrary to Manchester's penchant for indoor skating, Leeds embraces the great outdoors by providing lots of skateparks, trails and public spaces to skate in. They provide plenty of indoor spaces, too, so maybe we could just say that Loiners seem to enjoy skating.
Again, because of the lockdown, it was impossible to experience their many skating venues in operation but no great leaps of imagination were needed to see people getting their bit of authorised outdoor exercise with skates on their feet and a blissful look on their faces.
Likewise, it's not hard to imagine that, when lockdown ends, people will forego skating through their neighbourhoods in favour of skating along any of the city's trails, covering at least a portion of Meanwood Valley or Leeds Country Way trails.
Conversely, if Leeds skaters are craving a more social setting - after all of this isolation, who isn't? - they might join the Roller Girl Gang on their big skate through town on July 11. By the way, this Gang just won a prestigious award; isn't that a great reason to join them in celebration?
And if you dream of skating 'round and 'round with music blasting from an excellent sound system, mark your calendar for AJ's Roller Disco event on August 1st. It takes place in the Zara Sports Centre in Bradford.
Rollerskating is a fun way to get fit, express yourself and recapture the joy of gliding with the wind in your hair while everyone else plods along. But it's so much more than that.
Skating is also an institution, a testament to innovation and a reprieve from the crushing boredom of having to stay at home for so long. It's telling that, during this frightening time, people turned to a pastime they likely spent countless hours of our childhood enjoying.
But what does that matter? When we needed our skates to escape our doldrums, they were there for us. Aren't we ever so glad for that?
Now, on to discover the depth of Loiners' passion for skating! Let's take a tour through all of their skating venues.
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