Monthly Archives: August 2011

Roller Dancing


Impact: Low – Medium. Wear thick socks under skates to prevent rubbing.

Dress code: Anything goes, from hot pants to leggings or jeans.

I had forgotten how much fun rollerskating could be, until very recently, when I watched Whip It , a very cool film about girls’ roller derby with Drew Barrymore and Juliette Lewis.

Whip It: Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis and the bird from Juno

And I’m amazed how those babies in the Evian advert can do such amazing stunts when my 3 year old still manages to fall over thin air. How on earth do they do it…?!  ; )

Evian Babies (

I had some cool suede rollerskates with road wheels for my ninth birthday, and I loved them so much. When I fell over, it hurt, but I must have been made of rubber.  I must have driven my neighbours to distraction, skating up and down our street. My skates mysteriously disappeared and I’ve only realised why, just now.

On a roll with my gorge-Jos sister in law Jos

The last time I went rollerskating was one (slightly tipsy) Wednesday night at Jongleurs in Leeds.  I got a bit cocky, trying out stunts and I fell over several times. I felt like an old lady, shaken to the very core. The next day, I was covered in bruises, some real beauties, and it took a lot of courage to go back again.

I needn’t have worried at Northern Roll, John Kirkham’s Roller skating class. We began with a warm up, skating around the studio. Occasionally someone would fall over, but everyone was accommodating and looked out for each other.

Laura Whittaker is one of the more experienced members and helps the newbies. “You’re so busy concentrating on the moves, it’s like meditation. You focus on that and nothing else, all the day’s worries go away.” she says. I definitely felt my brain shift up a gear as I started to master the moves. At the beginning of the class, I never thought I’d be lifting one leg in the air and staying upright.

At one point, I thought, Yay! I’ve got the hang of this, I’m Juliette Lewis, I’m…oops! OK, maybe not. But after half an hour of warm up and an hour of workout, I had more confidence and a good laugh, which was great therapy in itself.

John, our roller coach fella, told me how he rollerskates on the main roads into work, and believes when it comes to safety gear, less is more, as the drivers aren’t lulled into a false sense of security and  give him a bit more leeway (?!)

He’s been stopped by the police a number of times, but he has a letter proving it’s all legal. I wouldn’t have believed him, had I not seen it with my own eyes.  John says he stops at traffic lights and spreads out across the road, so cars won’t cut him up when the lights go green. He is either crazy or…..I dunno.  I guess cyclists and motorcyclists take similar risks, but I couldn’t trust every single motorist on the road out there.

John Kirkham  at Northern Roll on 07884346932 or

Every Friday night at Esporta at the Light, Leeds.