JANUARY 2019 — Roller skating may seem like a retro sport of a time gone by, but under the roof of the historic Chicago Athletic Association hotel, the nostalgic pastime is born anew. On the hotel’s fourth floor, the original gymnasium Stagg Court transforms into a roller rink several times a month where beginner skaters try their hand on rented skates for the first time, and pro skaters come together in community to celebrate the revival of roller skating in Chicago.
After hosting several open skate events over the past few years (to the tune of “Drake Skate,” Valentine’s Day “Eat Skate Love” edition, and more), the hotel saw a hunger for roller skating lessons and skill-building beyond open skate nights, laying the foundation for the hotel’s new series Roller Dance Fitness classes. Offered every month and led by pro skater Eli “Cuban Miss Ele” Perez, Roller Dance Fitness is a fitness series offering skaters of all levels a groovy 90-minute workout covering proper skating technique while focusing on a classic roller dance moves.
Attendees can expect to walk (or skate) out of class with a roller dance routine under their belt, skate-centric exercises to do at home, and a newfound confidence – and maybe even some new skate friends. Oftentimes, Perez sees new skaters walk into class, nervous, timid, and afraid, but when they leave, they look confident, accomplished, and a little sweaty from all the skating.
“The Chicago skate scene is the biggest it’s been in a long time,” says Perez. “It’s such an infectious, empowering hobby, and it attracts people from all walks of life.” She saw such a growing love for the sport’s revival in Chicago that to connect roller skaters across Chicagoland, she created a club called Chicago Shred Union, and already has about 450 members. Chicago Shred Union was created to be an all-gender space where everyone feels accepted and encouraged to keep skating.
And the Chicago Shred Union aren’t the only ones paying close attention to the rebirth of roller skating’s popularity. Earlier this month, WGN News stopped by Roller Dance Fitness to get a glimpse of what makes the sport so compelling once again — and why some are saying “it feels like freedom” to get back on skates. Take a look at the full segment here.
So lace up those old skates (or borrow new ones when you come by), and join the Chicago Athletic Association hotel for monthly Roller Dance Fitness classes (the second Sunday and Monday of every month), or for the next open skate nights (Thursday, February 14 & Friday, February 15), and get that feeling of freedom, and roll on into the new year in style.