Roller Skating Away Pandemic Blues

A young woman roller skates past some palm trees.

Roller skating has experienced a big resurgence in popularity due to people looking for fun, stay-at-home, or solo activities during the lockdown. (Image: Javiindy via Dreamsworld)

Because of the pandemic, 2020 was the year when people reconnected with their families, friends, themselves, and nature. Many new businesses and hobbies became a reality and some older ones even made a comeback, including roller skating, with apps like TikTok and Instagram Reels helping push the whole retro vibe.

Usually, when you think of roller skates, it brings to mind old movies revolving around teenagers from the pre-smartphone era who made skating rinks their hangout. Skating was also an essential part of college life back in the 1980s. But looking back from the year 2021, it is not easy to think of skating to school or college, let alone work. However, the pandemic and the lockdown with the imposed rules on travel have made people reimagine their lives.

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Old now closed Skateland neon sign on the Skateland roller skating rink building.
When you think of roller skates, it brings to mind old movies revolving around teenagers who made skating rinks their hangout. (Image: Calvin L. Leake via Dreamstime)

The appeal of roller skating

The late 1970s to early 1980s was predominantly an era of great music, truly fearless youth, and roller skates. The whole devil-may-care vibe was exuded in abundance and the images of people on roller skates serve as the best way to describe what that timeline meant. The streets were full of empathetic people, but it was roller skating that brought people closer. The feeling of being untouchable was a high that no drug can ever achieve.

But why are people turning to this retro activity in the 2020s? How can a pair of boots with wheels fitted be so popular to people adjusted to their rectangular electronic devices? The lockdown has given a major boost to the work-from-home culture, but it also meant that people often stayed glued to their laptops for hours on end. The constant staring into the device made even mobiles a burden.

Being on roller skates has proven to be many things to many people. For some, it was hope, while for others, it was a way to feel productive. But all will agree that when they are skating, they feel as if they are flying. With the skates on, you start slowly and then build up your speed, racing down the near-empty streets and starting to feel as if everything is being blown away from you. It’s like flying away to a place of your own where you can find some clarity.

Close up of a young man's black roller skates with green wheels and matching laces.
Being on roller skates has proven to be many things for many people. (Image: Juan Moyano via Dreamstime)

Skate manufacturers have been selling out of product, retailers have literally seen lines outside their doors for people waiting to buy them, and skating rinks are doing a booming business. According to Netta McCracken, the owner of RollerWorld NorthEast in Haltom City, Texas: “Skating has gone through the roof. We had maybe one or two parties a month, and now we have every Saturday, every Sunday booked up.” (

People are turning roller skating into a viral trend that is being picked up by others on various social media platforms. This is yet another way to stay connected with each other and share a single timeline to let each other know that the world is still there, revolving and rotating.

Being on roller skates has helped many people improve their mental health and has become a mode of transportation, especially for those looking to lessen their carbon footprint while having more time in the day for working out.

The comeback of roller skates is definitely not just a temporary fad for some. Melissa Blackwood, a skating rink owner in the UK, puts it like this: “If you ask a skater what does skating mean to them, they’ll say it’s more than a physical activity it becomes a part of your soul, you eat, sleep, breathe, live the lifestyle that revolves around finding your new flat space.” (Harper’s Bazaar)

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