Fostering Friendship, Empowerment, and Finding Your Community
Quarantine’s notable impact on the rollerskating community has attracted thousands of new members to the sport around the globe. Most notoriously as a Tik Tok phenomenon, roller skating has become a pandemic-era “hot” hobby. Even according to Google Trends, since the pandemic began, the search “roller skates” has garnered more attention than ever before.
For many of us, this pandemic-induced quarantine period has confined us to our homes and made it hard to connect with individuals outside of our immediate environments. Rollerskating has long since provided folks with an active outlet and way to express themselves in their own homes, driveways, and neighborhood streets. And with a never-ending stream of content from roller skaters such as Ana Coto or Oumi Janta on Tik Tok and Instagram, who doesn’t want to pop on some flares and fresh-out-of-the-box quads from Moxi or Impala to take for a spin when it feels like the rest of the world is virtually rolling with you?!
For avid rollerskater and recent University of California Santa Barbara graduate, Juliette Wise, this pandemic provided an opportunity to establish a close-knit group of pals on wheels in the community of Isla Vista, California to keep social interaction alive and just have fun!
Juliette has made a positive impact on the local community by providing folks with an outlet to let loose, escape the monotony of Zoom-world, and a safe space to improve their skills. With the hardiness of a true skate instructor, Juliette is often spotted teaching newbies how to “shoot the duck” or master their manuals at meetups so that they can feel more empowered and confident on wheels!
With weekly meetups at the University of California Santa Barbara campus and around Isla Vista, Wise’s skating posse, Solar Skaters (@solarskaters on Instagram), has made a local name for itself. With popular events ranging from nostalgic disco to colorful bikini skate days, Solar Skaters is a community people are curious about and drawn to.
Reading this, you might even be wondering how you can start something similar in your own school or neighborhood. Building a community of rollerskaters really only requires 3 things: skates, pavement, and the right attitude! Since its inception, Solar Skaters has amassed hundreds of Instagram followers and local supporters by vocalizing its presence in the community… literally. To recruit new members, Juliette can often be spotted chasing people who skate by down and shouting something along the lines of, “Join Solar Skaters! We have free stickers!” But Solar Skaters’ most powerful recruitment tools are the friendships formed within the group itself and the community at large. Its all-inclusive approach to skating and judgment-free nature makes the group something people are eager to share and talk about bringing new faces to the scene almost every week!
Ultimately, roller skates have become an accessory of empowerment for those of us like Juliette who have sought out friends, fun, and comradery through the sport. In this time of pandemic and beyond, finding a crew to roll with that makes you feel empowered to be yourself is of the utmost importance. So maybe next time you’re caught in a drag, give rollerskating a try and you too can find your community!
Marian Walker is an environmentalist, artist, and fan of all things with boards, wheels, or both! New to the Withitgirl team, she hopes to channel her creative energy into fun pieces for the collaborative!
Photography by Marian Walker- Modeling by Solar Skaters Juliette Wise and Simone Bonnet
Solar Skaters on INSTAGRAM
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