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Rollerblades are making a comeback

Craving freedom in times of confinement, desperate to let off steam, it’s no wonder that more and more people are lacing up their skates and hitting the streets. And with retro trends taking us back to the 1980s, good old rollerblades are back in full force; they are even propelling roller girls and roller boys into social media stardom.

If you tried to buy rollerblades this summer, you may have faced delays, due to out-of-stock situations. Sales skyrocketed after the confinement. For example, Oxelo, Decathlon’s dedicated brand, sold 50,000 pairs of rollerblades in just one week, and in France, sales were up 250% in a year.

On social media, roller-skater videos are all the rage, transforming these millennials and gen Z-ers into real influencers, followed by a rapidly growing community worldwide. On TikTok, the hashtag #rollerskating now has 3.3 billion views. In April, when the young American actress Ana Coto filmed herself gliding down a sunny Los Angeles street on blue roller skates, with a Jennifer Lopez song in the background, the film went viral and garnered 17 million views in just a few months. This craze for roller skates has not gone unseen by brands, prompting big names in fashion to call on these new roller-skating stars to promote their collections. For their latest show, Etam invited Oumi Janta, a roller girl with 1 million followers, to rollerblade in the middle of fashion show around the models: the reaction from the public and on social media was explosive.

Even on screen, rollerblades are being given prominent roles. For example, in season 4 of “The Crown” on Netflix this year, we see a rebellious Lady Di skating through the long corridors of Buckingham Palace to forget her loneliness and discomfort. In the new series “Derby Girl” produced by Slash, actress Chloé Jouannet also puts on her roller skates. The world of music is not to be outdone, with many recently released clips, and one in particular featuring an epic rollerblade battle by young singer Lewis OfMan for his new song “Attitude.”

Popular in the 70s and 80s, a time of freedom and carefree state of minds, combined with colorful looks with sequins, neon colors and streetwear, the world of rollerblading has everything to appeal to a generation Zer in search of nostalgia and in love with retro vibes. Even more than a simple sport, rollerblades, popular within the African-American community since their appearance, have a long history of pushing towards anti-racism through rinks open to all, conveying an image of diversity that appeals to the younger generation. In 1949, a skate-in was held at the White City Roller Rink in Chicago to protest the policy of segregation at the entrance to the skating rink, bringing together blacks and whites. In Detroit, RollerCade – the first African-American skating rink in the United States – remained open for sixty-five years thanks to the support of the black community. More recently, the media coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020 and ongoing racial issues in the United States has focused public attention on African-American culture, helping to strengthen the popularity of rollerblading, a sport whose values are associated with anti-racism, diversity and inclusion.

With their convenient size and ability to move quickly, while avoiding the overcrowding of public transportation, rollerblades have many advantages that will appeal to city dwellers during this pandemic. While gyms have had to close down and the practice of at-home yoga with a screen has finally gotten tiring, roller skates are a welcome alternative for exercising and letting off steam outside the confines of the home. If the craze for the practice has been reinforced by the confinement, it should not weaken with the arrival of better health prospects: “The roller market is experiencing constant growth already seen before the confinement, and indicators show a real European and international craze that is in line with the times,” notes a spokesperson for Decathlon.

All you have to do now is get started. Here’s an overview of the most beautiful parks in Europe to make you want to start skating!

Skatepark, La Faute-sur-Mer

Located in La Faute-sur-Mer in Vendée and inaugurated in October 2019, this skatepark is the largest in France. Built on a former municipal campsite that was submerged by the storm Xynthia in 2010, this skatepark revitalizes the city. Located in the heart of an 8-hectare park, its surface area totals 3,200 m2.

Stoke Plaza, United Kingdom

This skatepark, located in Stoke-on-Trent near Newcastle in central England, was built in 2010. A unique and ideal place to practice with as many flat surfaces as up and down hills, and a circular design that makes it as practical as it is aesthetic.

Le Hangar, Nantes

Unlike the places mentioned above, Le Hangar de Nantes is an indoor skatepark. Opened in 2001 and subsidized by the city of Nantes, this 5,300 m2 space is composed of six practice areas dedicated to several sports on wheels, including rollerblading.

Merida Factory, Spain

Located in Merida, capital of Extremadura in southwestern Spain, the Merida Factory is a unique skatepark in its design, which is covered with a bright orange canopy to protect skaters from the sun.

Skatepark Péitruss, Luxembourg

A design studio specializing in skateparks built this Luxembourg park. Its surface area of 2,750 m2 makes it one of the largest skateparks in Europe, with flat surfaces that allow fans of various sports (rollerblading, skateboarding, scooter) to practice together.