Retro roller skates make a comeback amongst youth in Singapore
Being able to groove on quad-style roller skates motivates them to get better at the sport.
You might have seen these skaters cruising on their quad skates at the park recently.
Videos of roller skaters dancing to 80s music as they glide down the street, emulating the disco aesthetic, are also popping up all over social media.
Youth.SG spoke to some of these roller skaters to learn more about the resurgence of the retro-esque quad skates in Singapore.
Challenging themselves through roller skating
Maya Raisha, 17, first started roller skating recreationally in December 2019 after receiving a pair of roller skates as a gift from her family.
It was only during circuit breaker that she started practising dancing and moving around on her skates daily.
Roller skating is also an outlet for Maya to challenge herself while keeping fit. She said: “Roller skating gives me a non-superficial reason to appreciate myself and my body.
“My legs need to be stronger so I can do this jump, or I need to get flexible so I can do this dance move. The focus shifts from how my body looks to others to how my body works for me.”
She added: “It’s a much more enticing reason to exercise and makes me feel strong, hard working, and capable!”
Although Maya is back in school to prepare for her ‘A’ levels, she still practises daily and follows tutorials on YouTube, even if it is just for 30 minutes.
Like Maya, Juliana Haron, 28, and Ziyi Kuek, 31, are self-taught roller skaters too.
Juliana was inspired by the many videos of people roller skating on her Instagram Explore page. The administrative officer purchased a pair of roller skates in June and has been practising ever since.
“I used to inline skate when I was younger but I never really tried quads before. They allow me to be physically active while wearing fancy stuff,” said Juliana.
She added that learning how to roller skate involves a lot of falling down and getting back up: “My inspiration and goals come from watching roller skaters on YouTube, but the rest is all about trial and error, like balancing and falling all the time.”
For Ziyi, a former national skater, enduring the pain of skating injuries while training is an all-too-familiar experience, especially since she was competing for five years.
“I fell a lot trying to imitate people doing tricks while learning skating on my own. I think you have to learn how to fall properly before you actually learn how to skate,” said the freelance model, who also teaches inline skating.
Ziyi, who first learnt how to inline skate at age 11, picked up roller skating while she was living in South Korea from 2017 to 2019.
Drawn to its appealing retro aesthetic
It seems roller skating has become its own niche category on social media.
Many videos show roller skaters donning disco era-appropriate outfits like bootcut jeans or cut-off shorts with knee-high socks.
Maya thinks this aesthetic aspect of roller skating makes youths more inclined to pick up the hobby.
“When we skate, we wear cool outfits, take cute videos, and share it with the world. Sharing our hobby is something youths have become accustomed to,” she said.
Ziyi feels the retro look of roller skates sets it apart from other types of skates. She said: “You can do the same things on quad skates and inline skates, but the retro vibes make a big difference. If you wear a dress to inline skate, people will think you’re crazy.”
Besides its retro aesthetic, Maya believes the euphoric feeling of simply gliding on roller skates is inimitable.
“One of my favourite roller skating moments was skating with my headphones at Labrador Park. With the wind in my hair, I felt so free and full of joy,” she shared.
Similarly, Ziyi’s favourite part of roller skating is grooving along to music.
“I think roller skating is not complete without music. As a competitive skater, being on inline skates always feels like a sport where I have to really concentrate.
“But on roller skates, the focus is more about grooving to the music. Even if I’m not learning something new I feel like I’m partying when I’m on the skates,” she shared.
Finding like-minded roller skaters online
To document their skating journey, all three youths started Instagram accounts dedicated to this hobby.
Juliana, who started @juju_skates in July, usually updates her account whenever she has a roller skating session.
Likewise, Maya updates her roller skating account, @lilrollerbabe, as often as she can.
“With every new trick I learn or every new dance move I pull off, there are people who are struggling and learning right alongside me.
“I feel anything but alone when roller skating,” said Maya, who interacts with other roller skaters in her comments section to keep herself motivated in the sport.
The group started last year and currently has 600 followers on Instagram. They typically skate together every Saturday at the skating rink in East Coast Park.
“The Lion City Roller Skaters are really friendly and knowledgeable. If you want to pick up roller skating without going for lessons, then come down on one of the sessions!” said Ziyi, adding that the group is great for beginners.
For those who are curious about the sport, Ziyi and Juliana recommend hitting up Hi Roller, where beginners can feel more safe with the rink’s padded floor.
Maya also recommends making full use of free resources online.
“You can check out tutorials on YouTube. They’re simple and fun. Then, practise as much as you can and get ready for some scrapes!” she added.