Amidst the anomaly that was 2020, a casual roller skating group formed on the Northern Beaches, providing some welcome relief from the surrounding disarray.
The group, called ‘Roller Skate Revival Outdoor Northern Beaches’, is an offshoot of the Northern Beaches Roller Girls, of which most participants are also members.
The Revival crew is a more relaxed and less structured way to skate, meeting regularly at the John Fisher Netball Courts in Curl Curl whenever the mood takes them and blasting 70s disco tunes for a playful roll and fitness session amongst friends. The members are all connected via their Facebook page, from where they plan their meet-ups. Anyone is welcome to join.
Created by two local Northern Beaches Roller Girls Monique Richter, 59, and Gregoryan Knight, the group now has almost 300 members.
Richter says the group was started when their official training was put on hiatus thanks to COVID-19. She puts the popularity of the revived sport down to people having more free time due to work circumstances changing over the past year, and the fact that roller skates are now being sold in shops such as Surf Dive ‘n’ Ski.
“We would come down to the netball courts and notice that lots more people were here with bright new shiny roller skates.”
“There were a lot of families here, but it was all ages, not just kids, there were a lot of people in their twenties and thirties. People obviously couldn’t do much else, so they all bought skates. We would see them, barely able to skate, so we would help them.”
Who is in the group?
Anyone is welcome to join – all ages, gender identities, and even roller bladers!
Beginners are welcome and can learn from some of the “old school” skaters who have been part of the sport’s return to popularity since around 2010. Skaters like 41-year-old Kerrie-Anne Mitchell, who says skating is a great form of community connectivity.
It is great fitness and you may likely sweat, she says.
“We’re always happy to come down here and give lessons so that everybody can at least be safe. If you’re new to skating we can take you through it and get you rolling. It’s very casual and fun, and you don’t need any level of experience.”
One newcomer was Marley Pettigrew, 28, who bought skates last December after her psychologist suggested she try something new as a way to break through old thought patterns.
“I started skating in December as a way of dealing with anxiety. I ‘m really timid and wouldn’t usually put myself out there, so it was scary at first, but now I am hooked! I feel tougher and a lot more confident in my abilities.”
Pettigrew says she would have given up learning to skate if she hadn’t met this group.
“I guess I skate with them probably three or four nights a week. I’ve started cancelling my other plans. So it’s been a very positive experience for me. And I just like to tell everyone about it!”
A good intro to the sport
Richter says a number of roller skaters start with casual play with the Revival group and go on to join the more formal league (The Northern Beaches Roller Girls).
The Northern Beaches Roller Girls also offer a casual membership, which allows members to skate at the Dee Why PCYC on the last Sunday of every month. The session runs for two hours and gives skaters a chance to practice the skills they have learnt outside, on an indoor, polished wooden surface. Alternatively, if you are interested in learning to play roller derby you can join the league as a full member.
“We’ve already had three or four skaters that we met at the courts go on to join the league as full members, and learn how to play roller derby,” Richter said .
If you would like to learn more about roller derby or to join the Northern Beaches Roller Girls, head to their website https://www.nbrg.com.au/.
If you would like to join the Roller Skate Revival group, either search for ‘Roller Skate Revival outdoor Northern Beaches’ in Facebook groups, or follow this link https://www.facebook.com/groups/364302941481502.