September 3, 2015, 2:21 PM  |  Music

The fact that roller discos were a mainstay in popular culture from the late seventies through the early eighties now seems mostly inexplicable. It was a simpler time, when someone could suggest that drunk people should strap wheels to their feet, and nobody would see a problem with that. I suppose it was convenient to live in an era where you could slip and fall in public and not have a video of the incident be broadcast around the world. Back then the only way to go viral in a skating rink was to fuck the wrong person in the toilet.


The phenomenon tapered-off at the end of the eighties, at least in the mainstream; roller boogie and jam skating continued to thrive in African-American communities where roller rinks remained integral to otherwise underserved neighbourhoods, and an essential laboratory in the evolution of modern dance culture.

By the nineties, in-line skates had emerged as the new standard, and one which would transform the image of roller skating on the whole. This new design all but rendered the concept of roller-discos redundant with the realization that it’s impossible to put a decent outfit together wearing rollerblades. I don’t know why putting four wheels in a row instead of two side-by-side makes the person wearing them less sexy, but that is absolutely the case. And of course, once sexuality was removed from roller skates, and with rollerblades being about as accepted within black culture as the confederate flag, rollerskates drew further away from their previously synonymous relationship to music.

As something that could be considered a counter movement to this pendulum swing, the return of traditional roller-skates has been on a slow but steady incline for the last decade or so. As someone who admittedly appreciates the aesthetics more than the actual activity, I have put together this unavoidably kitschy mix of songs about rollerskating. While I expect there are valid safety concerns around wearing headphones while skating, I still recommend the idea wholeheartedly.

By Scott Eastlick

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