ROLLER SKATES look so harmless, especially to a former ice skater. Each skate has four wheels, which look stable and broad compared to a narrow figure-skating blade. There’s no slippery, cold ice. There’s even a rubber toe stop.
Roller skating won’t be a problem.
Then, this former ice skater stands up on all eight wheels. Wait. A hardwood floor is slippery, and hard. Whoa. These wheels move fast. How do you stop again?
All are elements you might contemplate when headed out for your first roller skate in a decade. Unless you’re one of the skilled roller skaters cruising merrily around Southgate Roller Rink in White Center, weaving among the inept newbies and smiling like you don’t have a care in the world.
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Most roller rinks have learn-to-skate classes to teach you the basics. I watched a video on how to roller skate and relied on my childhood ice-skating skills to get me through.
After getting my rental skates, I rolled onto the floor tentatively, practicing what I learned in the video. I didn’t have to cling to the wall, but my shin muscles were tense, and I’m sure I looked like I needed help.
I have taken enough intro classes to know relaxing is key to any sport. I told myself to chill out, stop worrying about falling and keep moving. I practiced some swizzles.
I got more comfortable and started skating faster. I attempted to lift one foot off the floor to work on crossovers. I got bold enough to attempt to skate backward, the wall close by. That didn’t go as well as I hoped, so I reversed course.
Most of the skaters — there appeared to be a lot of regulars at a weekday Adult Night — seemed to be having a grand time, grooving to the songs and chatting with friends. I noticed the good roller skaters tend to weave their feet back and forth, swizzling around and doing fun footwork. I played some with swizzles and skated as fast as I dared, knowing my stopping skills were still sub par.
After a while, I followed the lead of people around me, content to whiz around in circles and move to the rhythm of whatever song was on.
Adult Night at Southgate is fun. It’s a small rink with retro arcade games and logos for roller derby teams painted on one wall. The disco ball was lit, and the deejay played music ranging from hip-hop to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World.” Yes, the Disney song. If you can skate without falling down, it’s a great glide-with-arms-out song.
An hour flew by. My legs worked hard, especially while swizzling, and though it was cool in the rink, I was sweating.
Roller skating is physical, and it’s also one of those workouts that is too fun to keep to yourself. I dig the idea of gathering up some friends and having a roller-skating night out, sweating and dancing to the music.
Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: email@example.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.