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Skate the Golden State

A 5-day trip to Northern California by Susan Geary

If you’re headed to Northern California, don’t forget your skates. There are plenty of rinks, including outdoor venues to enjoy, along with different types of sessions to choose from. Here’s the itinerary that Ginger Mathews (aka the Skate Critic) planned for me to get the most from my trip.

Wednesday: After my flight touched down at San Francisco International Airport, Ginger picked me up and we headed to the Golden Skate in San Ramone for Adult night.

Every Wednesday this quaint rink, located just off the 680 Freeway halfway between Walnut Creek and Pleasanton, hosts skaters 18 and older from 7:30 PM – 100:00 PM. Admission is $14 per person with quad rentals at $5 — $6 for inlines. Everyone entering must pay a fee, whether they skate or not. Skaters are required to enter through a metal detector that checks for weapons. The floor is polyurethane coated over plywood/particle board, and some of the seams appeared to buckle on one side of the rink. Great music and a fun DJ to start off our trip. I did notice the prices on admission and skate related gear are the highest in the region. Richard Humphrey, the founder of RollerDance.com, was in the house and demonstrated the Wave. He’s provides roller dance instruction and has an interesting background as a stunt double and producer of skate instruction videos.

Richard Humphrey
Richard Humphrey, founder of RollerDance.com teaches lessons from his studio in San Francisco.

Thursday: Early Thursday morning we headed out to Citrus Heights to skate with seasoned veterans at Sunrise Rollerland, located Northeast of Sacramento near the Sunrise mall. Sunrise Rollerland is one of the largest wood floors in the West, and the 5th largest, nationwide (according to the Skate Critic). With a gorgeous rotunda floor that is well maintained, it was like skating on butter. This morning skate adult session runs $7 from 10-noon which includes skate rental and coffee and donuts. The music is a mix of soft rock, and more mellow top 40 music from the past 50 years. I ran into friends that were made years ago on Facebook, but had never met “in person.” What a wonderful time and a fabulous venue. I picked up a souvenir t-shirt as well.   

Ginger Mathews, Tim Laskey, and Susan Geary at Sunrise Rollerland in Citrus Heights, CA.
Ginger Mathews, Tim Laskey, and Susan Geary at Sunrise Rollerland in Citrus Heights.

After the session, we drove by King’s Skate Country in Elk Grove (south of Sacramento) which was closed, but we were hoping to go inside for a sneak peek. Perhaps next time.  

King's Skate Country.

Friday: Next we headed to the Church of 8 Wheels in San Francisco at 554 Fillmore St. near Fell Street. This old church turned disco roller rink is run by David Miles, the Godfather of Skating. We went to the earlier session from 5-7 pm due to our schedule. It’s open to all ages. But it’s the 8-midnight adult session that’s the showstopper. That’s when you’ll find a full house of adult skate worshipers, dressed in disco garb, to complement David’s light up sparkly hat and fuzzy leg warmers. There is neon everywhere. It’s a bit small, and more of a novelty rink, although it does have the original wood floor, brand new rental skates with light up wheels, and a fun selection of disco music that brought me back to my high school years when I was a rink rat in the 70s. Props also to David’s lovely wife, Rose and their daughter who greeted us at the door and made us feel extra welcome during our visit.

Church converted into a disco roller rink.
The Church of 8 Wheels is a renovated vintage church which hosts disco roller skating every weekend in San Francisco.

After leaving the Church, Ginger took me to San Jose to a pop-up rink in a former Sports Chalet at the East Ridge Mall. The owner, Liz Ruiz has done a phenomenal job in such a short period of time (8 days!) installing the Aloha Roller Rink, which started as an outdoor venue and morphed into the current location. It does have poles, which are well padded with pool floats, and they are lit up so you can’t miss them. Also, the floor is concrete and there is a practice area for beginners. Liz has utilized the space nicely, and it’s only been open about a year with huge party areas. A pro shop is also planned. The Hawaiian Beach theme resonates throughout, and there’s lots of couches, along with pool tables and pinball; plus a mini golf course under construction. Our DJ was DJ Taz from 10PM to 1AM. He played a mix of disco, rhythm and skate classics, like ABBA’s Dancing Queen, and Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough. This was a very fun rink. Save time by signing the online waver in advance. $13 admission. Skate rental is $2 and $4 for quads or inlines.

Interior shot of the Aloha Roller Rink with illuminated poles covered with brightly colored inner tubes.
The Aloha Roller Rink is situated in a former Sports Chalet at the East Ridge Mall in San Jose, California.

Along our route to San Jose, we stopped in Redwood City to see the recently shuttered Redwood Roller Rink. This iconic rink was owned by Jim and Suzie Pollard. Jim was a renowned skating coach and industry pioneer. After his passing, the family decided to sell the building, which is still looking for a new owner. The Quonset hut style is similar to Rollero, a former rink in the Phoenix area that closed in 2017.

Saturday we slept in till noon to prepare for the night’s festivities that would run from 11PM until 4AM in Citrus Heights. The 2RAW Skate Club holds an Adult Skate on the last Saturday of every month with a national weekend party in April. 2 RAW stands for Rhythm and Wheels. I learned the 2 was added to get at the top of the schedule among nationwide events that are listed at SkateGroove.com.

On the way, I wanted to get my king pins checked to make sure I had adjusted my skates properly. Ginger took me to the Roller King in Roseville, which I always admired from afar. While we did not put on skates, I was amazed at not only the number of well-behaved skaters, but the hundreds of photos of champions that adorned the rink. Owned by the Jacques family, headed by Michael and Pat, both world-class skaters, their son Michael (also a champion) took a quick look and said my skates were fine. When it comes to skates, finding a good tech who understands the nuances of plates and how they work can be hard to find at times. On my next trip, I definitely want to skate here and take a lesson from one of their coaches.

Back at Citrus Heights and Sunrise Rollerland we were ready to skate the night away at their monthly 2RAW event. The $18 admission price helps  bring in DJ Bowen from Chicago, who is popular among rhythm skaters. 2RAW is in its 10th year and will celebrate with a weekend event April 16-18th. After the first hour, I stepped off the floor to stay out of the way of the shuffle skaters who like to skate very fast along the outside edge of the rink. These parties are not for beginners who can easily get run over if they don’t understand the dynamics of the late-night adult skates. It’s important to stay toward the center lanes if you don’t participate in shuffle skating, and use the correct hand signals to enter and exit the floor. The rules are not very clear, so ask ahead of time if you do plan to go and avoid injury.

The first hour of 2RAW had skaters warming up before the lights went down and the bigger crowd showed up.

Sunday we headed back into the City to Golden Gate Park to meet up with David Miles (from the Church of 8 Wheels) for their weekly gathering of skaters. Known as the Skatin’ Place in Golden Gate Park, the skaters move in unison to songs from Miles’ boom box, while he spins around holding a wireless microphone, encouraging the group. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, a group of roller skaters (aka The Skate Patrol) stopped the City Hall from banning roller skating in Golden Gate Park more than 40 years ago.) Now they have a permanent outdoor rink to call their own that is free for all to enjoy. There’s even a guy out there skating with his little white dog. Note that parking can be lean, you may want to consider public transit if you go.

David Miles, dressed in a red hoody and a sparkly red and gold hat.
David Miles, founder of the Church of 8 Wheels, also facilitates a weekly outdoor skate at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Later that afternoon, we checked out Paradise Skate in Antioch. This small rink with a wood floor is situated on the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, and offers derby, a pro shop, skating lessons, STEM, and birthday parties. There was quite a crowd, music was supplied by the computer program FEC, and they played the Red Light, Green Light Game and the Hokey Pokey while we were there. I also got to try out a new pair of Golden Horse Artistic Skates which I plan to review in the future. We skated the 3-5:30 PM session. This rink also has a beach/surfer theme. I loved the knowledgeable and friendly staff and good mix of modern music. Admission is $10 for this session. Quad and Inline rentals are $5 additional. They offer group discounts for those with 15 or more.  

Indoors at the Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Antioch, California
Paradise Skate in Antioch, California.

One thing I noticed about all of these rinks was the amount of skate-related items and gifts they had for sale with their logo on them. There were T-shirts, key chains, and other goodies.

My partner in crime, Ginger, the Skate Critic has full reviews of the rinks we visited, with more comprehensive info, such as the quality of the floor, rest rooms, and cleanliness. Check it out and follow her on Facebook at the Skate Critic.

You’ll find videos and additional photos on our Facebook page at Roller Sk8r

The next time you’re headed to California, don’t forget your skates. There are plenty of great rinks there.

Categories
National Parties Rhythm Skating Skate-Ettiquette Trips

What to Expect at Your first National Skating Party

by Sara Hodon

Public skating hours are a great way to connect with other skaters and show off your skills, but if you really want to find your tribe and pick up some new moves from skaters from all over the world, a National Skate Party might be for you.

So what is a Skate Party?

            Part skating session, part dance party, and all fun, a Skate Party attracts skaters (and non-skaters!) from around the world for a weekend of adults-only, all night skating, with other daytime activities like bowling, barbecuing, meet and greets, and trampoline parties added to the mix. These events give serious skaters the chance to let loose, meet other skaters and compare skills, and most importantly, have fun while keeping the sport and spirit of roller skating alive.

            Skate parties have two major differences from public skating sessions at a local rink. One is the sheer number of skaters. Some of the bigger parties will draw thousands of skaters; a smaller party, a few hundred. (Skate critic and enthusiast Ginger Mathews says the parties are held at rinks. Some organizers have tried moving the parties to larger venues like a sports complex, but they haven’t been successful because the floor in that type of venue is not the same as a rink floor).  Second, the parties will have different styles of skating, from JB Chicago to Shuffle Skating. Third, the DJ is the focal point of the whole event. Rob Cusmano started 8 Wheels No Brakes, a well-known Skate Party in New Jersey and ran it for 10 years before retiring the event in 2018, and says the DJ makes the party. Many skaters decide which party to attend based on who else is going, but Cusmano adds, “Seventy percent choose [the party] based on the DJ.” He cites Joi’s Sk8-a-thon in Atlanta, which draws so many skaters, the party was split into two sessions—30 and under from 8 to 11 p.m., and over 30 after 11 p.m. 

            Skate critic and enthusiast Ginger Mathews goes to a lot of Skate Parties and says the experience is hard to describe. “They are so much fun! The music, the environment, the people—it’s somewhere you can go and you can run into people from all over the U.S. and you can all skate together, whereas at home you only have your local friends. The music is off the hook from the minute it starts until the minute it stops—you won’t want to get off the floor.”

“But what if I’m not so much into skating?”

            And forget about feeling uncomfortable. Cusmano says everyone is welcome. “They’re good to attend just for the experience. There’s so much to see—they’re really like nothing else. Even if you’re not that into skating, they’re something to see. My wife will come along, and others who just like to sit and watch the skaters.” Most of the bigger skate parties are at rinks in larger cities, but Cusmano adds safety has never been an issue. “Skaters are the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” he says, adding he’s done quite a bit of skating in Camden and Newark, NJ, two cities with rough reputations, but says there’s never been a problem. “The area or neighborhood where the rink is located has nothing to do with it. When you’re inside, you just skate,” he says.

            But, he points out, the skaters who do take to the floor are serious and have the skills to prove it. So if you’re just an occasional skater or don’t have advanced skills, you may want to attend your first skate party as an observer and build up your skills. “A lot of rental skaters show up at these events,” Cusmano says. “It’s a lot, and it can be intimidating for rental skaters or first timers. A lot of these events don’t allow rental skates on the floor.”

            The crowd can be overwhelming for a first timer, Mathews says. “I would suggest not picking a large party,” she cautions. “Some can have 3- or 4,000 skaters. For someone who’s never been to a skate party, it can be overwhelming and a little frightening. Try to attend one with maybe 2- to 400 people until you get your bearings and are a little more used to them.”

“How do I find these parties?”

            But if you’ve got the skills and you’re ready to take your skating passion to the next level, it’s time to find a party. Most party organizers promote their events the way just about everything else is advertised these days—“People advertise online,” Mathews says. “You can also find them on my Facebook group.” She adds, “You can also look on SkateGroove for listings—the only parties they have listed are the ones who pay to advertise.”

            Eric Bahr of Phoenix, AZ, has been skating for almost a decade and has been attending the Toestoppas’ events (the organizers behind Sk8cation) for about seven years. An event admitting hundreds or thousands of skaters into one rink should be chaotic, but Bahr says that hasn’t been his experience. “They’re pretty organized,” he says. “You can usually buy tickets at the door or in advance. The tickets are for the skate events; a lot of the stuff [bowling, etc.] is free.”       

Do’s and don’ts for your first skate party

            Skate party “newbies” should be aware of a few important things before hitting the floor for the first time. Above all, know the rules of adult skating. “It’s very different from public skating,” Mathews says. “You could get injured or injure someone else.” To that end, Cusmano adds, “Do not try to get out of anybody’s way. That causes more of a problem. The skaters know what they’re doing—they’re doing their moves and they will see you.” Trying to dodge one skater ultimately puts you in the path of someone else, and this can lead to disaster. Mathews says, “There are so many people, rolling so fast—if one person goes down, they can take down 30 or 40 people in one shot.”

            Mathews also suggests arriving well ahead of the party’s start time. “Get there about an hour early if it’s a big party. You could be waiting to get in for an hour or more. If the rink reaches their limit per the fire marshal, you may have to wait for some people to come out first. If you’re going to a large party, skate for the first 45 minutes to an hour, then get off the floor and just watch everyone else. The bigger, faster skaters will run over you or crash into you!” She speaks from experience. “I was at Soul Skate in Detroit, MI last year and I was skating and these two people were doing a little dance. They crashed—the guy right behind him crashed into them, and the guy in front of me crashed into them. Somehow, I crashed, rolled over, and got up as fast as possible because I knew it would be a pileup!” In other words, a skate party is really not the scene for the timid skater. Cusmano says, “Do not skate on the wall. Do not hang on. If you do this at an adult event, you do not belong there.”

Although there may not be an official dress code (unless it’s a themed party), Mathews suggests dressing lightly. “It gets hot inside with so many people! I would recommend wearing shorts and a tank top, even if it’s winter,” she says. “Also, depending on where you’re going, you may want to lock up your skate bag. Some places can be on the rough side; it depends on where you’re going.”

If you think you’ve got the skating skills to show off with some of the best skaters in the country, try a skate party. It’s a showcase of the sport at its best, complete with fellowship and fun.

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Featured Trips

Skate travel tips for a smooth trip

by Sara Hodon

Traveling can be nerve-wracking enough but bringing precious cargo along can add a whole new level of stress. As longtime roller skaters who travel regularly for parties, competitions, and other events can attest, different means of travel require different safety precautions, but there are a few general tips that apply to leaving home on a plane, train, or automobile. 

Skates on a Plane
Skates on a Plane. Image by Peggy Flefah

One golden rule that applies to traveling in any way is never be far from your skates. “When I fly, I never check my roller skates. I never let them out of my sight,” says Margaret “Peggy” Flefleh, a skating enthusiast who travels around the country for skating parties and to sell her skating-themed jewelry and gifts. “I was flying once and tried to check them because there was no more room in the overhead compartment. I tied the laces together, threw them over my shoulder, and said to the flight attendant ‘I’ll stick them under my seat.’” She adds, “I would advise keeping them with you at all times—even if you go to the bathroom.”

Flefleh started skating later in life and hasn’t looked back. “I’ve been heavily skating since I was 30. I took my daughter to a birthday party at a rink and said, ‘This looks like fun!’ I went to an Adult Night at the same rink that night and I was hooked.” When Flefleh turned 50, she started traveling for skate parties. “I got sucked into the skating world,” she laughs. Around the same time, Flefleh started giving friends old skate keys she’d been collecting for years. Now, Flefleh sells the keys and skating-themed jewelry at parties and different events. Talking to others is one of the most enjoyable parts of these events. “Everywhere I go, people have a roller skating story,” she says.

Skates on a Plane

Jay Beewitz and his wife Nicole travel worldwide to roller skate.

 Joerg “Jay” Beewitz, known as “Dr. Rollerskate”, is based in Berlin, Germany, and has traveled all over the world to skate. He runs the roller skating website Roller.Sk8.Berlin. “Traveling is part of my ‘skate life’, which implies that almost all private travels are linked to roller skating. Also, on business trips I usually take a pair of skates like others take running shoes.” In 2018 Beewitz made five flights to the U.S., five flights to various European cities, and several car trips for skating. Airlines have gotten much stricter with their baggage policies, and Beewitz strongly suggests reviewing your carrier’s weight requirements for luggage prior to flying to avoid stress at the gate. “When I’m flying with checked luggage, my skates are in a backpack. Skate tools, a second set of wheels, and other gear should be stored in the checked suitcase. When you are traveling only with carry-on luggage, you should obey the weight restrictions. One pair of skates weighs about four pounds, so with some airlines you are only able to put an additional eight pounds in the on-board suitcase.” If you’re close to the weight limit for your checked bags, it might be time to be selective. “Skaters have to be good at the art of cutting out dispensable items,” Beewitz says, adding skates could be considered a carry-on item (in the same category as a handbag) if they fit perfectly in the seat in front of you. It’s best to put them in a bag of some kind, depending on the type of skates you have. “You could carry them on a skate leash, which might look cool but is not a good idea. They might be considered a dangerous item because of the metal parts, and rejected when you get to the cabin door,” he points out.  

Lost or damaged skate liability

Each carrier has different policies for lost or damaged items which are usually explained in their Conditions of Carriage (available on most carriers’ websites). To give a few examples: according to American Airlines’ (AA) policy on their website, they are not liable for damages unless the item is in a hard-sided case. They will pay up to the value of the items in a bag that are missing or damaged. You must provide receipts and proof of loss. Southwest Airlines’ policy states they will compensate passenger for reasonable, documented damages up to the limit of liability. But if you’re still uneasy? AA’s site says it best: “Never check anything you can’t live without. If an item is irreplaceable, sentimental, or vital to your well-being, keep it with you or leave it at home.”

Rolling through Security

Security checkpoints and working with TSA is all part of the experience. If you follow the policies, are at or under the weight limits for checked luggage, and are generally cooperative, your security procedure should be brief and uneventful. Keep in mind that the agents are simply doing their job. Beewitz says most of his interactions with the agents have been pleasant. “Let’s mention the positive reactions you get when the airport security officers spot your skates in the X-ray scanner,” he says. “Many times you get smiles and frequently it’s a reason for small talk.” If you are pulled aside by an agent, Beewitz says, it’s just a formality. “It’s not personal. Agents must do a closer inspection of travelers with unusual items, like roller skates.” And if you spend a good deal of time in airports, it helps to get along with all airport personnel.  

Skating in the Terminal

Ginger Mathews, aka “The Skate Critic” travels throughout the country an average of 15 times a year between flying and driving (she’s been to 32 states), visiting rinks and skate parties and can speak to this firsthand. Once, when sitting in an airport waiting for a flight, the airport terminal became an impromptu roller rink. “I had my son drop me off at 10 p.m., and I figured I’d catch some zz’s. Unknown to me, this airport completely shuts down around 9:30 p.m.,” she says. “I was doing some paperwork, getting caught up on a few things, but then when that was finished, I was bored, so I got out my skates. This was at maybe 1 or 2 a.m. No one was around.” An airport security guard, although impressed, asked her to put the brakes on her skating routine. “He saw me on his security monitor,” she laughs. “He said the skating looked really cool, but he didn’t want the airport to be liable if I fell.” Fortunately, Mathews has never lost her skates, mainly because she carries them onboard. “My skates and purse go on the plane with me,” she says. “I don’t check my skates because I may never see them again. Keep an eye on your skates. If you get to where you’re going and you don’t see your skates, you won’t have a very good time. My skates are always one compartment above me and I know where they are at all times.”

https://www.facebook.com/ginger.d.mathews/videos/10219226835404257/
Ginger Matthews, the Skate Critic, demonstrates how to load a Zuca Bag into an overhead bin.

Skates in a Car

 Flefleh typically drives if she is going to an event within 3 hours of home. “Most of the skate parties I attend start at midnight and go until 4 or 5 a.m. After driving for more than 3 hours, that’s a long day,” she explains. Driving gives you more control over certain situations, and you can secure your valuables (read: skates) as you see fit. “I wouldn’t recommend leaving them in the car,” Flefleh says. “Cars are easy to break into. I also wouldn’t leave them out in the cold.”

Mathews will drive from her home base in Concord, CA if her destination is less than 12 hours away.  Her best advice for taking skates in the car is to keep them well out of sight. “Keep them in the trunk—not in the hatchback or back seat,” she says. “If they’re in the trunk, they’re out of sight. And never get a rental car that doesn’t have a trunk.” And always treat your skates as you would any other luggage and bring them into your hotel room for the night.

Plan ahead

Traveling is a rewarding experience that gives skate enthusiasts the opportunity to connect while exploring places very different from home. By relying on good old-fashioned common sense and doing some pre-planning, you can focus on making memories with your fellow skaters and not stressing about trip logistics or lost skates.

Safe travels and skating!

Categories
Top Rinks Trips

Epic Rollertainment, Murrieta, California

EPIC logoBuilt from a former furniture showroom, Shauna Grammatico and her husband, Joe opened Epic Rollertainment in December of 2013. What’s so epic about this particular roller rink? First, let’s start with the name. It’s a cool, hip, and original brand with a surfer beach theme that rolls throughout the venue. It’s a shining example of how roller rinks can serve today’s skaters. Second, it’s nothing like your parent’s skate center.

Entering the vast 28,000 square foot building you feel like you’re at the beach. The only thing missing is the smell of the salt water and suntan lotion. The front entry showcases surfboard advertising and a picket fence, along with a sign that reminds visitors to stop and pay.

EPIC Snack Bar EPIC Sk8 PlateA food truck hides the large kitchen in the back by the snack bar, and continues the beach theme. On the menu, there’s wraps, gourmet pizza, salads, craft beer, and wine! And the EPIC SK8 California license plate on the food truck adds another touch. 

Pro Shop GiftsThe beachfront pro shop, On Shore Wheels and Things is stocked with skates, parts, shirts, tools, laces, stickers, doo dads and everything a skater could want or need. I could have spent an hour in there and probably run up a huge bill as well, except it was closed during the session and I had to ask to be let in. I loved browsing through the fun merchandise. I felt like I was in Skate Paradise!

EPIC Party tablesThe party tables and games are located far from the skating floor but close to the snack bar. I love this! It keeps the pizzas and sticky soft drinks away from the skating floor and it keeps the parties in a quieter area for their greater enjoyment. And the regular skaters don’t have to be subjected to the party guests and food servers under foot.

The rental counter looks like the surf washing up on shore. They offer a sizing chart so no one has to guess what their skate size is. Riedell Sizing Guide

Then there’s the vintage roller skating photos, which also classes up the place. I couldn’t find a clown or kiddy theme anywhere in the building. 

EPIC Roller Fitness Epic also offers Roller Fitness classes. That’s a full-body workout on roller skates that uses the skates as weights, and also improves balance, flexibility, and cardio fitness. When exercise is fun, people can stick with it. Roller skating is fitness disguised as fun.

Bill CarlsonThere are several comfy couches for socializing throughout the building tucked away in corners that are noticeably upscale with no carpeting to speak of. After all, you wouldn’t see carpet at the beach. There are also no skate mate trainers anywhere in the building. You will notice however a photo of Bill Carlson on the wall. Bill was the consultant the Grammatico’s hired to help design and open Epic Rollertainment. It was Bill’s last rink before he passed away in 2014. He made amazing contributions to the roller skating industry and is sorely missed.

Comfy CouchesOne drawback at Epic Rollertainment that hard core skaters will notice is the lifeguard tower in the middle of the floor along with 2 poles. While the most preferred type of rink is an open span; converting an existing furniture store with poles is no easy feat. The guard tower not only helps hide one of the poles, it’s big enough to keep people from skating into it. And it allows for the DJ to keep a closer eye on what’s going on and double as a floor guard. Keep an eye out if you’re doing any backwards skating.

Average session admission: $5-$11

Website: EpicRollertainment.com

Location: 39809 Avenida Acacias, Murrieta, CA 92563 / between Exit 1 and Exit 2 off I-215 north of the I-15 interchange and on the east side of the highway.

Categories
Rink Life Rink Meetups Trips

Meet the Roll Dawgz of Florida

If you’ve been to the Sunshine State anytime in the past 3 years, and ventured into one of its many roller rinks, chances are you may have seen the Roll Dawgz, a group that is growing enthusiastic roller skaters of all ages.

Roll Dawgz of Florida is the brainchild of co-founders Sammy Glover, Stephanie Castillo, and Bruce Walther. It’s not a skate crew or competitive club, but a flock of like-minded skaters and their families dressed in blue shirts. They meet up at rinks across the Sunshine State on a monthly basis to promote roller skating and celebrate milestones, like their annual anniversary.

Glover was a national speed champion and former employee of the Ocala rink in Florida. He told The RollerSk8r he initially got the idea 10 years ago to start a social skating club but couldn’t find the right people to join him. About 3 years ago he thought it would be an awesome idea to form a “family-based” club rather than all adults or all one type of skating style. “I started this club because I have kids, and I wanted them to know what skating is all about,” he admitted. The Roll Dawgz welcome jam, speed, derby, art, freestyle, shuffle, and recreational skaters of all stripes. Members are racially diverse and there are no dues to pay. Just express interest, show up at a future event, and buy a t-shirt. And if you really want to go all out, you can purchase matching LED lights and attach them to your skates.

Because Roll Dawgz Florida is made up of families, skaters range in age from 3 to 60 years old. And they only skate at public sessions. Some rinks offer a dollar discount for group members who wear their blue shirt, because session skaters will obviously notice a group of skaters all dressed the same. “It’s one of the ways we keep growing,” said Kenny McNabb, a member who started skating 6 years ago. “We meet other skaters at the rink who are really excited about skating and want to join the family.” McNabb stipulates it is a family rather than a crew. “We’re not out to get into turf wars with other rinks.” The Roll Dawgz make the rounds at rinks such as Skate Reflections (Kissimmee), Skate World (Tampa), Skateland of Brandon, Skate and Shake (Ormond Beach) SkateMania (Ocala) and Spinnations (Port Richey), as well as the Astro Skating rinks in the Tampa area. They’ve also made the road trip to Jacksonville.

Typically the Roll Dawgz convene once a month and at some rinks host a clinic 30-45 minutes ahead of the session to exchange tips on skating skills.

Both McNabb and Glover stated there is no drama among the Roll Dawgz skaters. In order to join the group, interested skaters are asked to come back for a road trip to another rink, meet the “family” and purchase a shirt. Glover stipulates that all Roll Dawgz must respect the shirt. “I don’t want to see you on the local news that you just robbed the Jiffy Mart while wearing a blue Roll Dawgz shirt,” he said. “You have to be 100% respectful to others. No fights. We keep the respect level up and the drama out.” In the 3 years since the club started, only one member was asked to leave because of a disrespectful attitude.

Also, a visit to the Roll Dawgz of Florida Facebook page shows Blue Alerts calling out birthday and anniversary wishes to members of the team. With 675 Facebook friends and growing, there’s also lots of photos and pictures of the 160 group members in their blue Roll Dawg Shirts and matching LED lights mounted on their skates.

“It’s magical,” said Glover. “When we come in … 40 people with the same shirts and blue LED’s on the skates, people stop and talk to us. They ask, ‘where are you from?’ and we get a conversation going.” At an event 3 years ago, we had 30 people with us. The rink owner got phone calls all week after that asking “how do we join the Roll Dawgz?”

Since then the Roll Dawgz have taken several road trips across Florida, bringing along 50 to 60 skaters to each rink they visit. While they teach skills to each other as well as the session skaters while they are there, they are not a competition group. They just like to travel and skate together. With 160 regular members throughout Florida wearing blue shirts promoting roller skating, the rinks like having them in the building.

Glover and his group members are appreciative of rink operators. “Our biggest thing is to promote the rinks, because without the rinks, there would be no us.” He adds, “you have to create skaters. And they only way to create skaters is to expose them to it.”

Find the Roll Dawgz Florida on Facebook to discover more about the Funky Blue Crew and where they will appear next.