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I Tried It: Skate School

A writer channels her 80s childhood to attempt to master roller skating and roller derby


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Skate school at Skateworld in Linda Vista. | Photo: Jay Reilly

You Try It!

All ages skate school and roller derby classes Tuesday and Saturday

$10 for 30 minutes instruction, 30 minutes open skate

Skateworld
6907 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista

Stepping into Skateworld in Linda Vista is like entering a time warp—one that transports you back to a simpler time when all you needed was feathered hair, neon leggings, a pair of white skates, and some blaring Pat Benatar. Lacing up my own retro skates for Tuesday night skate school, I’m immediately transformed into my former ’80s Jersey girl self who spent many a Saturday “shooting the duck”—skating lingo for squatting down and sticking one leg straight out—at a childhood birthday party.

Once the nostalgia fades and reality sets in, however, I’m not nearly as coordinated as my tween self used to be. I realize quickly that roller skating is not at all like riding a bike—unless that bike is wobbly, awkward, and prone to falling down.

Thankfully, Melinda and Sami, who teach beginner skate basics and roller derby, respectively, are patient and forgiving. (The hard rink floor, not so much.) For 30 minutes, Melinda guides me around the inside track while skaters less than half my age geared up for derby lessons speed by on the outside. The half-hour lesson tests my cardiovascular stamina, my heart rate rising the faster I skate; my muscle strength, as I engage my core and quads to squat and raise one leg while in motion; my balance, to stay upright while on wheels; and my coordination, to do it all without crashing into anyone.

As I attempt to skate forward, backward, figure eight, and on one foot, more advanced students wearing helmets and pads practice speed skating and jumping over a limbo pole in preparation for roller derby tryouts. When I ask Melinda when she thinks I’ll be ready for such skating shenanigans, she kindly says, “Maybe three or four months. You’re not bad. You have the balance down; you just need to practice.” And then she offers me her hand and helps me up off the floor.

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