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Roller Skating Making a Comeback in Arkansas

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Roller skating may have never entirely disappeared, but it’s making a major comeback across the state. The retro appeal of brightly colored decor, disco balls and the sound of wheels on the wood floor gives new life to a sport that flourished in the 70s and 80s. Whether you prefer traditional quad or inline skates, there are lots of opportunities for skating in Arkansas, and chances are good that there’s an up-and-coming skating rink in your neck of the woods.

It gets a little exhausting to use COVID as a marker for significant events and changes in our culture, but I don’t think any of us can deny that COVID changed us. With time on our hands and nowhere to go, people found creative ways to get outdoors and be active. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and for many, the isolation and boredom caused the revival of retro pastimes – like roller skating.

Itching to get out and about, people across the country began dusting off the old roller skates they had stashed in the basement and, at least to start with, took to the streets. Thanks to social media, new trends grew like wildfire, and retro sports like roller skating, bowling and mini golf gained popularity. When things began to return to normal, people began to realize that not only is roller skating recreational, but it’s also a great workout, and no one’s going to notice your mediocre dance moves when you perform them while skating.

The recent boom of roller skating played a role in getting me on skates again for the first time in nearly 30 years. It also helped that I have a 5-year-old son who wanted to try it out one evening with friends. Was it easy? Not quite. This forty-something-year-old body isn’t quite as stable and limber as it once was, but it was a blast. Skating is a bit like riding a bike, and it didn’t take long for it all to come back.

If you are ready to give this retro sport a try, you may be surprised that there are more than 15 roller rinks scattered across Arkansas. Try one out this weekend.

Arkansas Skating Rinks

Skating rinks across the country are making a big comeback. A few hung on even after interest in the sport began to wane in the 90s and early 2000s when even a renewed interest in roller derby couldn’t keep rinks afloat.

The good news is that there are roller skating rinks across Arkansas, including a few new ones and others that have recently been remodeled. There are plenty of opportunities to become a part of the sport. Just be careful because you may find that roller skating becomes a part of you!

Photo courtesy of The Groove Skate Shop.

Buying Skates

Most roller rinks have rental skates available but purchasing skates will always give you the best fit, feel and performance. If you really want to get in on the revival of skating, get your own skates!

Similar to bowling alleys, most skating rinks have Pro Shops where you can purchase skates and skating accessories and have repairs made. With the increase in interest in the sport, many bike and skateboard shops are starting to carry roller skates as well. For The Groove Skate Shop in Springdale, it was a no-brainer when they decided to add roller skates to their inventory in February, and they have one of the most comprehensive collections in the state. They also have a full line of pads and helmets to help protect your joints and head when you roll.

Did we miss a roller rink located near you? Leave us a comment so we can add the business to our list.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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