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Cummerbunds and kneepads galore: Local Twin Cities roller skating community hosts “Skate Prom”

Several local skate groups and organizations come together to host the first large-scale skating meetup since pre-COVID-19, with a formal attire twist.
Students roller skate in the Northstar Ballroom at the St. Paul Student Center during a roller disco event.
Image by Maddy Fox
Students roller skate in the Northstar Ballroom at the St. Paul Student Center during a roller disco event.

When we think back to highschool prom, it may not always spark the warmest of memories. Perhaps your date ditched you, your outfit tore or you just couldn’t tolerate doing the Cupid Shuffle while sharing the dance floor with the demons who populated your senior class.

This past weekend several members of the local Twin Cities roller skating community found a way to put those bad memories to bed with a prom of their very own. Organized by local roller skate groups Chicks in Bowls Minneapolis (CIB) and Quad Chicks, Skate Prom took place on July 24 within the halls of the elegant ballroom that is the 3rd Lair Skate Park.

With over 40 people in attendance, the vast majority of whom were sporting their formal attire, the event went off without a hitch. Centering the event around inclusion and acceptance for all, organizers encouraged anyone and everyone to come out regardless of experience level.

Co-admin for CIB, Gem Carr, shared how the idea for Skate Prom first took shape when COVID-19 restrictions were initially lifted.

“Everybodys just had a rough year, and we felt like we’re kind of losing the community,” Carr said. “So any excuse to dress up and have a good time was basically what we wanted to do. We haven’t dressed up — any of us — at all for the last year.”

The night began at the sculpture garden outside of the Walker where folks met and took pictures before hitting the ramps. After that, the crowd migrated to 3rd Lair where, in addition to shredding, attendees could also grab snacks, drinks and more photos throughout the park.

Several members of the local roller skating community have noticed a rise in the popularity of skating taking place during the pandemic. CIB admin Laura Mahler shared how part of the draw for the Skate Prom event was to create a welcoming environment for new members of the community who have not yet been able to make it out to a large-scale skating meetup.

“Now that the world is starting to open up and people are getting vaccinated, we’re kind of like, ‘Okay, it’s time to now meet these new people and get together,’” Mahler said. “I think the prom was sort of an excuse to make [the meetup] a little bit more special and creative, but mostly, it was to celebrate the fact that we can skate together again.”

This event was the first local large-scale meetup of its kind since the pandemic. CIB admin, Michaela Craig, shared a bit about how these meetups are organized and how all are welcome and encouraged to come give skating a try.

“We have a couple different message forums going on, so if you find one person that you’ve met that you like to skate with they’ll for sure, no doubt, invite you to like a skate message group,” Craig said. “Everyone just says, ‘Hey, I’m going here today if anyone wants to meet up,’ or, ‘Does anyone want to state this week?’ Someone’s always looking to skate.”

Many smaller weekly meetups are constantly being organized, however the next large-scale gathering such as this is currently being organized for Halloween.

Above all, members of CIB, Quad Chicks and the local skating community as a whole value inclusion. Whether you’re an expert on 8 wheels or if it’s your first time doing anything of the sort, the skating community is here to welcome you with open elbow pads.

“I think rollerskating gets an intimidation vibe around it,” Mahler said. “Like, ‘Oh, those people are really good and they’re gonna hate me because I’m not good enough.’ There’s a little bit of that but I think that really was shattered last night.”

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