HAPPY INTERNATIONAL ROLLERSKATING DAY! Join us as we celebrate putting wheels on our feet, traveling on a surface and then falling down! Today we’re partying with roller skating aficionado and cool sis Deidre Emerson!! LET’S PARTY!!



Show Notes

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History + fun facts about the holiday

  • Definition/history of roller skating/roller skates
    • From Wikipedia: Roller skates are shoes, or bindings that fit onto shoes, that are worn to enable the wearer to roll along on wheels. The first roller skate was effectively an ice skate with wheels replacing the blade. Later the “quad” style of roller skate became more popular consisting of four wheels arranged in the same configuration as a typical car
      • Skates generally come in three basic varieties: quad roller skates, inline skates or blades, and tri-skates, though some have experimented with a single-wheeled “quintessence skate” as well as other variations on the basic skate design
    • Roller skating is the traveling on surfaces with roller skates. It is a form of recreational activity as well as a sport, and can also be a form of transportation.
      • In America, roller skating was most popular between 1935 and the 1960s and then in the 1970s, when polyurethane wheels were created and disco music oriented roller rinks were the rage, and then AGAIN in the 1990s when in-line outdoor roller skating took hold, thanks to the improvement made to inline roller skates in 1981 by Scott Olson
    • The first reported use of roller skates was on a London stage in 1743. The first patented roller skate was introduced in 1760 by Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin, which was essentially a version of what we would call an inline skate today, with wheels where the blade on ice skates would go. They were hard to steer and to stop because they didn’t have brakes. The initial “test piloting” of the first prototype was in the city of Huy, which had a party with Merlin playing the violin.
      • According to a 2013 mentalfloss.com article, Merlin’s plan was to “suavely skate into [the] salon [of a fancy masquerade party] while simultaneously playing the violin. Unfortunately, Merlin hadn’t practiced skating much prior to the soiree, nor were his skates engineered for turning. Merlin ended up crashing into a large mirror and suffering serious physical injuries, though his pride might have been the part of him most severely bruised.”
    • It was until the 1860s that “trucks” were employed. James Plimpton created a four-wheeled skate that made use of springy carriages called trucks that allowed the skater to turn by leaning in the direction of travel. This was a vast improvement on the Merlin design due to its ease of use, and ended up driving the huge popularity of roller skating, dubbed “rinkomania” in the 1860s and 1870s. The Plimpton skate is still in use today
    • According to a 2014 article from The Atlantic, it was greatly due to the advent of the disco age that roller skating took off in the latter part of the 20th century, since songs with an up beat and a down beat really help the sport. However, as with all things in the 70s, roller skating took a hit when the economy started to tank. Many rinks were forced to closed, and some of those that survived weren’t adequately prepared for the inevitable wane of the disco era and ended up closing as well
      • The popularity of rollerblading in the 90s offered an option for the remaining rinks to adjust and even continue to thrive
      • The article goes on to detail an experience at the Roller Skating Association Convention and Trade Show for that year, where it appeared that attendees were optimistic for renewed interest in the sport. The Top 40 songs at the time appeared to be compatible with skating culture, with 80s nuwave vibes in abundance. One such example is Avicii’s “You Make Me.” The video is set in a roller rink, and has a Scott Pilgrim kind of vibe, but with synchronized roller skating and only one ex
      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GADx4Hy-Gg&feature=kp
    • Eventually, roller skating evolved to become a competitive sport, including speed skating, racing on skates, inline figure skating, jam skating, and roller derby. In the mid 1990s, roller hockey, which is played with a ball instead of a puck, became so popular that it even made an appearance in the 1992 Olympics. 
      • While roller skating was considered for the 2012 Summer Olympics, it has never become an Olympic event
      • Roller skating popularity exploded during the disco era but tapered off in the 80s and 90s
      • Jam skating! Is a combination of dance, gymnastics, and roller skating. The style has its roots in traditional roller disco, but has been greatly influenced by breakdancing, artistic skating, gymnastics, and modern dance. Successful jam skaters are well practiced in these different forms and must have the ability to translate these movements while on skates.
        • Jam skating first became popular in the early 1990s and is still going strong throughout the nation
        • Example of jam skating in pop culture can be found in the music videos:
          • 1, 2 Step by Ciara ft. Missy Elliott
          • Disease by Matchbox 20
          • My Shoes by Murphy Lee
          • I Heart You by Toni Braxton
          • Ladies of the World by Flight of the Conchords
          • Blow by Beyonce
          • Cool Patrol by Ninja Sex Party
          • Gold by Chet Faker
        • As well as an Apple iPod commercial featuring the song “Feel Good, Inc.” by Gorillaz
    • According to Wikipedia, “roller skating has had a checkered past over its nearly-three century history. Given its ebb and flow of popularity, writers labeled each generation’s attraction a ‘craze!’ The caption in a 1904 Decatur newspaper read, ‘Old Craze Comes Back,’ adding, ‘Roller skating promises to be as popular as it was twenty years ago.’” In 1906, the Inter Ocean newspaper wrote that, “after 20 years of exemption from the affliction the desire to roll is again taking possession of American adults… the mania has struck Chicago!” SImilar reports surfaced again in 1941, when ball bearings revolutionized roller technology and roller skaters staged spectacle events and speed-skating marathons.
    • I’d like to close out the history segment with a quote from Wikipedia: “Today, the acceptance for roller skating is not unlike a waning moon but the sport persists. Roller skating continues to thrive as a part of pop culture in the form of recreation for leisure, dance, and sport. Rollers, past and present, are diehards.”
  • Facts about the holiday
    • International Roller Skating Day seems to be either one component or a spin-off of a month-long celebration for National Roller Skating Month, which lasts through the month of October. 
    • I only found one mention of International Roller Skating Day, from listofnationalholidays.com. The site has no information on the holiday, just two sentences with observation recommendations: “Go to local roller skating rink. One could also rent skates and go down a boardwalk.”
    • On the other hand, there are numerous mentions of National Roller Skating Month. Checkiday.com claims that the month-long holiday has been celebrated since October 1983
  • Stories/anecdotes/stats/fun facts–from Wikipedia, a 2013 Mental Floss article,  a 2015 article from isccherryhill.com (international sport center, NJ)
    • Some health benefits from roller skating, as per the Roller Skating Association, an article from skagitskate.com (PNW, holla), include:
      • Providing a complete aerobic workout
      • Burning 330 calories per hour while skating 6 miles per hour for a 143-lb person or 600 calories while skating 10 miles per hour
      • Roller skating is equivalent to jogging in terms of health benefits
      • The American Heart Association recommends roller skating as an aerobic fitness sport
        • According to research conducted at the Universitat Konstantz (Germany), moderate roller skating increases the skater’s heart rate to levels ranging from 140-160 bmp, while skating at top speeds can increase heart rate up to around 180 bpm
      • An infographic on skagitskate.com states that, “according to the American Heart Association, physically active people save $500 per year in medical costs.” I find this laughable, as my ER visit from my most recent skating adventure will probably be quadruple that number
        • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, roller skating is 2x safer than school playgrounds, 3x safer than football and baseball, 4x safer than basketball, and 5x safer than riding a bicycle
      • According to a study at the University of Massachusetts, skating causes less than 50% of the impact shock to join compared to running, which is something like 3-7x a person’s body weight (each footfall may experience the force impact of up to 1000 lbs, but usually around 500-600)
    • As the US readied for WWII, the government entertained the notion to add roller skates as essential equipment to move infantry around Europe to save gas
    • The first marriage ceremony on roller skates took place in 1912 between a couple from Milwaukee between Miss Hattie Baldwin and Mr. W. McGrath
    • In the 1950s and 60s, roller skating carhops became a popular staple in US culture, and still exist day with the Sonic restaurant chain. Sonic hosts an annual event called the Sonic Skate-Off, which is a competition to find the most skillful skating carhop from its 3600 drive-ins.
      • From what I can tell, eager employees submit 1-2 minute long videos to Sonic, showing off their skills but also blowing a lot of smoke about how much they love their jobs, in order to get a shot at the final competition
      • According to stories.inspirebrands.com, 2019’s Skate-Off was held on August 6 in Oklahoma City. The final 5 carhops were required to carry a tray full of Sonic menu items through an obstacle course, which included having to duck under, step over or around barriers, before making a final dash to the finish line
      • https://stories.inspirebrands.com/2019-sonic-drive-in-skate-off-recap/
      • The winner not only received the championship title, but new skates and a cash prize. The champion for the 2019 Sonic Skate-Off was Ryan “Flyin’ Ryan” Pierce out of Pineville, Louisiana. I have included his audition video in the shownotes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsjsY5i4ZOg
      • The day after the competition, the skaters finished off their trip with a team-building exercise at Oklahoma City’s Riversports Adventures, where they kayaked through river rapids, zip lined, and trekked through a ropes course
    • One of the first modern MTV-style videos occurred in 1970 and featured Cher on roller skates in a zebra-print jumpsuit, along with truck drivers and bikers. The video was for the song, “Hell on Wheels” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW_kIlaU41Y
    • According to the mentalfloss article, “at the height of the 1970s roller revolution, each major American city developed its own skate style, though some styles were more distinctive than others. Chicago especially became known as a roller skating city ad became famous for JB skating, which borrowed many of its intricate moves from the Godfather of Soul or James Brown. Fancy footwork and standing dance routines are hallmarks of the JB style, and a well-known move is aptly called the “Crazy Leg”
    • The world’s largest roller skating parade took place in Paris in June of 2008. 1188 participants skates for 12.68 miles (20.4km)
    • New York City’s last indoor roller rink called RollerJam USA was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy. It took $750k and six months of repairs, but the rink was finally able to reopen. The owner, Joe Costa, is quoted as saying, “It was worth it. There’s still this whole underground skating community that you wouldn’t even know exists–people from the 70s who are still doing it. And there’s a new generation that’s definitely getting interested in roller skating. Gliding on skates to the music–there’s no feeling like it.”
    • In Questlove’s 2013 memoir, Mo’Meta Blues, he recounts that Prince was a very talented roller skater. His experience took place in 2005 and started with a text message from Prince’s assistant, inviting Questlove to a Valentine’s Day roller-skating party and to bring some “cool people.”The “cool people” that Questlove was with at the time turned out to be Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Common, Chris Rock, and Eddie Murphy. Among them, only Eddie Murphy accepted the invitation to go roller skating with Prince.  Questlove, his girlfriend, and Eddie Murphy showed up to a mostly empty rink sometime around 1am. They skated around for about an hour before Prince arrived carrying a “mysterious briefcase,” and at which point he sternly instructed Questlove to check his phone at the coat check. 
      • Prince opened the briefcase and took out a pair of roller skates, that Questlove described as the “strangest, most singular pair of roller skates [he] had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multi-colored spark trail into your path.” Prince then did a lap around the rink, leaving a rainbow trail of light and sparks in his wake. Questlove went on to say that Prince “could skate like he could sing.”

Activities to celebrate

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  • Use #InternationalRollerSkatingDay and #RollerSkatingMonth on social media
  • National Day Calendar basically indicates that your mileage may vary on how best to celebrate this holiday. Depending on where you live, you may have to consider when to contain your observation indoors, since fall weather can be treacherous in some places. Regardless, they do recommend getting together with a group of friends and going roller skating.
  • Visit the National Museum of Roller Skating, established in 2000, is FREE (but accepts donations), and located at 4730 South St., Lincoln Nebraska. They are open Monday through Friday from 9-5
  • Rollerskating.com of Roller Skating Association International hosts a page with a National Roller Skating Month toolkit, which includes links to the 2019 Poster, Facebook Header, coupons, class lesson passes, the press release, a video for how to shuffle skate, and ideas on how to observe the holiday. Some of the suggestions 
    • include conducting social media challenges, such as having a skater show off a skill on video and then challenging others to do it as well
    • Video contests
    • Posting pictures or videos on social media at your rink, tagging your skating center for a special prize or discount
    • Purchasing a VIP family package, which includes a ½ hour lesson, session, food, and drink for a special rate
    • Conducting a food drive or charity skate
    • Stream casting DJ’s into your skating center with videos across rinks nationwide
    • Organizing a lip syncing flash mob video with staff and skaters for social media
    • Making boomerang videos of skater skills
    • Hosting games such as relay races, four corners, shoot the duck or squat contest, limbo, crazy couples and trios, freeze frame with last person rolling, follow the leader with a train or conga line, or a trivia contest
  • Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next Roller Skating Industry Convention and Trade Show, which will be held at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, NV on April 26-30, 2020


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