16 January 2024

Roller Skating Through the Decades: A Nostalgic Journey

Did you know that roller skating dates back to the 18th century? A Belgian inventor named John Joseph Merlin created the very first skates with metal wheels. And while they weren’t particularly comfortable or popular, the idea evolved into a cultural craze. Even the Victorians enjoyed a glide around the rink, and thanks to some clever marketing, couples were allowed to roll together without raising eyebrows or requiring chaperones. But roller skating really took off in the mid-20th century. Let’s take a nostalgic journey as we look at skating through the decades.

1950s: The Golden Age of Roller Skating

At a time when Elvis Presley was in the spotlight and corsets were in fashion, roller skating experienced a surge in popularity. It was loved by teenagers and adults alike, with roller rinks and roller skating parks becoming social hubs. Many featured jukeboxes playing rock ‘n’ roll music and couples would enjoy date nights at such venues.

1960: Roller Disco Divas

With roller skating already a popular trend, it only made sense to combine skating with the discotheque culture of the time. People would glide along and boogie to upbeat tracks, turning roller rinks into lively and energetic spaces. Venues would often be kitted out with disco balls and colourful lights, with skaters dressing in funky outfits and letting their hair down.

1970s: Roller Disco Fever Continues

By the 70s, roller discos were huge, with movies such as Saturday Night Fever showing roller disco scenes. The skates themselves became part of fashion culture too, with many people wearing roller skates with bright and eye-catching designs. Switching Cuban heels for four wheels was on trend and something teens did regularly at weekends.

1980s: Roller Skating in Popular Culture

Roller skating influenced popular culture on a large scale. Movies like ‘Xanadu’ (1980) and TV shows like ‘CHIPs’ showed skating regularly and skating fashion grew at a rapid rate. The 80s welcomed brightly coloured spandex, leg warmers and flashy accessories, all of which were popular with roller skaters. The rink became the place to show off stylish outfits.

1990s: Street Skating

In the 90s skating moved from the rink to the street, becoming something of a sport. The roller disco began to decline, and skaters instead took to urban environments to perform tricks, jumps and stunts. It was in this decade that skate parks became increasingly popular as a way for skaters to perfect their skills.

2000s: Roller Derby

The scene was now fully focused on the athletic element of roller skating. The popularity of the roller derby revived - particularly in the United States - with teams of skaters aiming to score points. Roller derby leagues were formed and competitors displayed incredible athleticism.

2010s and Beyond: Skating Popularity Renaissance

In the 2010s, roller skating began to experience a resurgence, with the roller disco slowly coming back to life. It was during the pandemic that it really came back to life, with many seeking the carefree, playful spirit that it embodies. Today, families, couples and friends can go roller skating in Wembley at the ROLLERSCAPE indoor rink, which reimagines 1970s roller discos, bringing them into the 21st century.

For skating in Wembley, book your tickets to ROLLERSCAPE with KX Tickets today. Enjoy a wide range of events including relaxed family skating and late-night DJ sets, as well as skate lessons for all ages.