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Roller skating community fosters joyful nostalgia


IC Seniors Brianna LaSita and Carly Hough spend their weekends roller skating at the Ithaca College tennis courts.

On a sunny afternoon, the Ithaca College tennis courts are a popular spot for students to get outside and enjoy the warm spring weather. Except there is not a tennis racket in sightstudents strap on their knee pads and lace up their roller skates to learn dances, try out tricks, and glide across the court.

The revival of roller skating due to Instagram and TikTok virality over the past year has brought many new skaters to the Ithaca scene.

Bringing community together

Last fall Crista Nicole made a post on Facebook calling her friends to meet her at the newly paved and well lit Greenstar parking lot at 8 p.m. that night to skate.

“I didn’t really have any plan. I didn’t have any way of playing music except for my car. I was just gonna drive in, turn my car radio on, blast it and just dance and have a Saturday night plan with myself… but actually a handful of people showed up” Nicole said. “There were only six or seven of us but we were smiling and laughing … we had such a great time.” 

This positive reception led her to start the Ithaca’s Pop Up Roller Disco Facebook group, bringing back fun Saturday night outings during the pandemic. Nicole uses this group to tell local skaters what parking lot or garage they will be popping-up in that week and share postings of local and online skate listings.

Roller skate companies design their skates in a wide variety of colors and patterns, allowing customers to customize their skates to their personal style.

Intergenerational nostalgia 

Roller skate shop Moonlight Roller has seen this viral surge impact their business, quickly selling out of skates in May 2020. 

Founder Adrienne Cooper believes that the nostalgia and connection between all ages is what caused roller skating to gain its cult popularity.

“Your grandparents maybe roller skated when it was cool to do it in the 60s and 70s, and maybe your parents skated in the 70s, 80s or 90s,” Cooper said. “Whether you’re 16 on TikTok and you see viral videos of people skating … or you grew up skating … it’s something that anyone can enjoy.”

Operations Assistant Randi Franklin agrees, and said that she sees this diverse community in her following online. Her TikTok skating profile has grown to more than 120,000 followers since starting it last summer.

“I know when I post a video with an old school skate song then all my comments are filled with people who are like ‘this was my song in the rink back in the day.’ I think that the music has a lot to do with the nostalgia as well,” Franklin said.

Joy in skating

Throughout quarantine, roller skating served as the perfect solo or socially distanced group activity to help people get outside and enjoy themselves.

Looking for places to skate in Ithaca? Check out this list!

Ithaca College senior Carly Hough finds that skating brought joy to a time that was often otherwise a difficult period of isolation.

“There was a day where they repaved the street that I live on and then it was closed for two days,” Hough said. “And I remember skating up and down on that asphalt and watching other people skate up and down. It was such a sweet, funny moment.”

Roller skating has always had its mental health benefits. Cooper says that this has been especially important this year. 

“A lot of skaters, especially in marginalized communities have continued to skate as a form of healing and therapy through the years,” Cooper said. “Getting to just lose yourself in a song … helps you feel more grounded and connected with yourself”

Nicole finds that after a difficult week, for herself and those that come to the pop up discos, their moods completely turn around after a skating session.

“Everybody needs a little joy and a little bliss in such a hard time,” Nicole said. “If you’ve skated you know it’s this feeling, it’s like you’re flying and there’s nothing like it and it just feels like freedom…”


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