I was born in Far Rockaway, Queens in New York, but we moved to Baton Rouge around 1975. We lived at “The Elms” apartments for 6 month until my parents bought a house at the very edge of Baton Rouge and Denham Springs. That house was less than 1 mile from a skating rink called “Skate City” ( AKA rink #1 ) . They later changed their name to Roller City from some reason. Maybe they were under new management? I don’t know that part of the story.
Phase 1: In The Beginning…
For my part… I have had an interesting relationship with skating. Though I grew up literally around the corner from a skating rink I didn’t really skate that much. For some reason I didn’t really take too it. More than likely I got out there and never found that skating stride. A kid can only take so much sliding around like a new born dear on ice before giving up 😛 !
I have lots of memories of Skate City but not a single one is of me skating. What I remember is going there because my friends were going, putting on my “brownies” ( rental skates ) and them hanging around everywhere in the rink except on the skate floor! I have memories of dumping a bunch of coins on the counter at the snack bar and ordering a “Suicide” ( a mix of all the available fountain drink flavors ). I have memories of playing video games. And mostly I have memories if playing doubles foosball in my skates for hours until it was time to get picked up. I had lots of friends, through high school, that became great skaters, skated on the speed team the rink had, and even worked as floor guards at the rink, but I pretty much quit going after elementary school. What an idiot.
Fast forward to 2022. The pandemic lockdown had come to an end and people were going back out into the world. Liz had seen some skating videos on social media and that had sparked a lot of fond memories for her. With the world opening back up she was eager to take a crack at skating. Being a big believer in the “Happy Wife Happy Life” approach to marriage… I was behind her 100%. We decided that she should get a pair of skates as a late birthday gift. Once she had her skates she decided to try them out at the Greenway in Alpharetta, GA where we live. The Alpharetta Greenway is a long smoothly paved trail used by walkers, runners, bikers and skaters that winds itself around this area for many many miles. She went without me that first time, but reported back that she seemed to have retained her “skate legs” from childhood and felt pretty steady on them, despite her more than 4 decade absence from skating. “Well”, I thought… “That makes one of us!”.
Phase 2: Back On Skates
This could have gone a lot of ways.. We found a “nearby” rink. Nearby in quotes because it turns out the closest rink was about 45 minutes away. That rink was Hot Wheels in Woodstock, GA. We called to ask them about what was their least busy session. We figured the less people around the easier it would be to see if this whole “let’s be skaters!” thing had a shot. I got my brownies on and eased up to the edge of rink and prepared for the humiliation and pain that was sure to come soon. As we watched the other skaters out there making it look easy, and got our nerve up, Liz said something to me that probably made a huge difference in how things were going to go. She reminded me that skating is a side to side motion, as we had learned from watching a lot of youtube videos. And that it was probably similar to movement you use to go uphill on skis. This one bit of advice probably saved me weeks or pain and shame 😛 . As soon as I stepped on to the floor… that’s what I concentrated on. Pushing myself forward at very wide angles… like going uphill in my skis! By doing that, instead of standing there practically stationary while moving my legs forward and back in a walking motion, which is what about 99% of new skaters do, instinctively, I was actually getting around pretty decently! Yay! Phase 2 complete! There were several falls but nothing too bad. I was ready for more!
Phase 3: Learning Mode
In this phase we became obsessed with youtube videos to glean every bit of knowledge and advice possible to get better at our new obsession. Another session at Hot Wheels quickly followed and shortly after… a new rink! Skate Country was another rink we found which was close to an hour away and we decided to give it a go. This was the beginning of that now never ending itch to try new rinks. Each rink is so different. The floor, the carpet, the seating, the lighting, the sounds system, the choice of music, the staff and on and on. The biggest difference, though, was the skates! They had a completely different feel than the rentals at Hot Wheels. This was frustrating since it almost felt like starting over. All the advances I had made from my 2 sessions at Hot Wheels seemed to evaporate as I struggled to understand where these weird Skate Country brownies were trying to take me! That was did it! on the way out I told Liz, that if I was going to get better, I probably needed to buy my own skates so that I could take weird skates out of the learning curve. The decision was made! I was eager to get to our next session at Hot Wheels so that I could, hopefully, buy some skates there. We decided to go on a night when they do roller skating lessons but not an open session hoping that it would be slow and we could get me some help in choosing skates. After the lesson, where I tried skating backwards with no success.. unless falling hard on your butt is considered success :P, I got off my brownies and headed, fast and determined, over to the skate shop. I tried on a few pair and made my choice. It would be black Sure-Grip Boardwalk skates with Sure-Grip fame wheels. I went with a full boot ( instead of ankle high speed skates ) because I have rolled my ankles MANY times over the years and was worried about ankle stability. I was happy with my choice and my new friends. Hello skates!
Phase 4: Addiction
In addition to the faster learning curve from having my own skates to strap on at any time ( including in the living room ), now that Liz and I both had our own skates, rinks weren’t actually necessary anymore. We could now skate anywhere with a smooth surface! We did some internet sleuthing and discovered Union Hill Park ( AKA: rink #6, yes there are some missing rinks from this story.. see our list of visited rinks for the full list ). Union Hill Park had been built with a skateboard park and a covered roller hockey rink. By the time we discovered it, the city had decided to rip out the hockey stuff ( walls with plexiglass, stands, floor tiles, etc ) and left just the covered pavilion and the smooooooth concrete. We had discovered something special! Union Hill Park was only 10 minutes from our house, and we had our own skates. No we’re talkin’! Since Union Hill park is straight concrete, outdoors and open to the elements, we assumed there would be some falls so we got some pads and started practicing. It wasn’t long before we ran into an amazing couple, Sheri and Tony, who skated at Union Hill Park regularly. Tony is a DJ and would bring speakers and play music. It took the Union Hill experience to a whole new level. And then one more thing happened that pushed us over the cliff making us complete skate addicts. They told us about a group, GA Old School Skaters, that they ran on Facebook, and invited us to join. Now we had enablers. Goodby old life. Hello Skate Life!
Phase 5: The community
After joining 1 group, Facebook’s algorithm got to work. Before we knew it we had signed up for a half dozen local and regional skate groups. Each one chock full of new friends and best of all, they were full of info on when and where to skate. We went from randomly trying sessions, to going to hand picked choice sessions that were far superior. This also opened up a whole new world of skate friends. We began to meet all the people from the groups in real life, and almost without exception each and every one was friendly, welcoming, and eager to help us on our skating journey!
Being part of the skate community also led us to big skate events. They happen all over the country and attract skaters from all around. You get to meet all the amazing skaters that you have seen in the cool online skate videos, which are affectionately known to skaters as “Skate Porn”. We went to our first big event, the USA Shuffle Skate event at the Sparkles in Hiram, GA. That was something else! It was our first time seeing so many of the great skaters from the skate videos we’d been obsessed, in person. Of course we were way to intimidated to speak to any of them, but just seeing them skate in person was like being at the Oscars or a sports All-Star game. We were giddy!.
By the time December 2022 came around, we had become friends with soooo many people in the community and and were pretty comfortable skating with them. That led to the birth of an idea. Skate Takes!
Phase 6: Skate Takes
Much of the skate content online is on TikTok so we decide to try our hand at it. We knew we didn’t want the focus to be on us, first because we don’t like the spotlight, and second because we’re not very good skaters. Instead we wanted to feature our love of skating by showing skaters of all levels and from as many places as we could visit, enjoying skating as much as we do. So we brainstormed for a few days and came up with “Skate Takes”. It comes from the movie industry, as in Take 1, Take 2, etc. Once we thought up the name we started setting up our social media accounts, including TikTok. Liz started making TikTok videos from videos she took on her phone while we were at the rinks. She quickly developed a knack for editing in the TikTok app and was creating some pretty good content. We needed to level up the quality, though. Step in children’s abandoned toys. We gave our son a GoPro the previous Christmas so he could use it to record himself playing drums. It’s beside the point… but he rocks the drums, and now the bass, too! Back to the story… so he used the GoPro for a bit, but had left it behind when he moved out. I ordered an entry level hand held gimbal ( a steadi-cam unit ) used to stabilize a camera while it’s recording. If you’ve seen me skate you know that “smooth” is not a word anyone would use to describe my skating style. So I was hoping the gimbal would make a huge difference. Boy did it! Now instead of shaky phone video, Liz had high definition smoothly recorded video to work with. She was able to take the Skate Takes content up many many notches.
Here We Are
As of the writing of this article we’ve been skating about a year and are still as obsessed as ever. I don’t think we can get more obsessed.. I guess time will tell. Our goals are simple:
- Skate as much as possible!
- Spread the fun of skating to everyone around the world!
- Support and promote rinks, skaters, and skating events to keep the skating community active and growing.
- Bring new people in to the wonderful world of skating by showing them all the benefits!
- Encourage former skaters to come back to the community by reminding them of all the fun they had doing it before they quit. This is one of our favorite goals. In the comments of our videos we see, literally, thousands of comments from people who say the videos remind them of the funnest times in their lives. Their stories are heartwarming. When they come back… they call themselves “Born Again” skaters, and they love it just as much as they did before.
Don’t you want to be one of us?
There are some great benefits to skating. The exersize, the music, the community and something magical that you can never put your finger on, but it’s always in the back of your head pulling you to the rink. People of all ages skate from toddlers to baby boomers! Just take it slow to start, and if you’re concerned about injuries, just gear up with some safety equipment. Knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmets and more! I still wear knee pads and wrist guards, and I know skaters who are very proficient and have been skating for years and years, but still wear wrist guards to avoid wrist injuries ( which can be common ). Liz and I pretty much type for a living, so a broken wrist would be a huge problem. For that reason, I’ll probably never give up my wrist guards. So as you can see… trying skating is not out of reach. I encourage you all to give it a shot if you’re able!
If you’re interested in getting into skating browse the Skate Takes website for resources on getting started, equipment, skate etiquette, finding sessions, learning resources and much more. The site is a work in progress so be sure to join our mailing list so we can let you know about new resources and events.
We hope you will join us on our journey and become one of our community. We can’t wait to meet you on the floor. One of us! One of us! One of us! One of us!