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Spin spin sugar

Updated: Mar 8

2018 you made me dizzy! With so much going on and every part of Roller Girl Gang growing - girl skate nights, learn to roller skate classes, our pop-up shop and sales - as well as travelling to teach workshops and learn new things... Oh yeah, I'm a primary teacher and a mum too! It was sometimes hard to know which way was up! A blog post on spinning is surely in order.

I started learning to spin about 5 years ago and have taken advice from so many people, which I will share with you here. I was also asked to perform a spin for a music video filmed recently, so I really hope it makes the final cut!

Types of spin:

There are a few different ways to spin. The way I will focus on in this post is the heel-toe spin. However, you can also spin toe-toe, one foot, on a toe stop and many other ways!

Direction of spin:

You will find you feel more comfortable spinning in one direction more than the other. I prefer to spin to the left.

Jason Gray (@mrjg; @tscompany) has skated in Starlight Express and taught roller dance workshops in Leeds for us. He suggests that when you are starting, don't worry about your feet. Focus on your arm and body position.

Step 1: Start with one arm in front of your body and the other behind, with your knees slightly bent.

Step 2: Raise your arms so your body resembles a 'T' shape and pull your core in.

Step 3: Lower your arms, wrapping them around your body again.

Jason's key points are to 'land' the spin in the same way you would land a jump - bend your knees and roll out of the spin, or you will fall over! Initially, focus on straightening your body, and then bending your knees. Even if you can go further, he suggests to get this raise- and- lower position into the muscle memory by drilling it for short periods of time (because you will get dizzy) by only turning ninety degrees at a time. When you feel confident that you are landing the spin, by flinging your arms more quickly, you will go around further. Don't even think about your feet at this point, just concentrate on body position.

Michelle Steilen (@estrojen) founder of Moxi Roller Skates and Moxi Skate Team taught a roller dance workshop at the start of 2018 in Leeds. She said to fling your arms around you as hard as you can in the direction you want to turn. Imagine you are in a hot tub or swimming pool and swish the water around you.

Michelle is such a creative skater. She encouraged us to try altering arm position. The most stable position is to have your arms out to the side. This also has the most air resistance so you will travel more slowly. As you become more confident, try to pull them in. I use to spin with my arms crossed over my chest. For less stability but a lot more 'wow' try stretching your arms above your head!

Step 1: Wind your arms up and bend your knees in preparation.

Step 2: Fling your arms in the direction of the spin. Straighten your body as much as possible.

Step 3: After a quarter rotation, a full rotation or multiple rotations, land that spin by bending your knees!

Practise little and often. You will get dizzy after a few decent attempts, so you need to either spin the other way, or take a break to allow your inner balance to re-set. You will find by now that you are naturally lifting an opposite toe and heel. If you spin the same way as me (to the left) you should find that you pull the toe of your left foot backwards, while pushing the heel of your right foot forward. Remember you need to land that spin!

Foot position: One heel and one toe raised. I find spinning and roller dance is much easier without stoppers.

I found that I reached a point where I was able to spin several rotations, but would then over balance to one side.

Watching the Planet Roller Skate video featuring Candai (@candai; @planetrollerskate; @LArollergirls) really helped to identify the problem. The toe of my right foot kept dropping out of the circle on the floor, causing my weight to shift and throwing my balance off. Once I realised that was the problem, I worked hard to consciously keep the right toe pointing in, and my spins instantly improved!

The final really great tip comes again from Jason Gray. He said not to try and 'spot' a point on the wall to focus on, like a dancer would as he said that when you spin at high speed, it is simply too fast to focus on anything. So just let your head go around with you. For ultimate high speed, also bring your feet slightly closer together. Jason is a trained dancer and has spent years performing and choreographing, so I really respect his tips.

Done well, spinning looks incredible. I have seen skaters spinning and I actually stop and stare because I know how hard it is and how much balance it takes. However, even as a beginner you can learn to throw a little rotation into a freestyle flow type of roller dance movement, and feel that it comes fairly naturally. It adds a little bit of polish, pizzazz and flair to your dancing on 8 wheels. It is also really good fun! Spinning on luminous wheels looks great and you can see which wheels you are using as only those wheels will light up. However, for faster, tighter spins, my favourite wheel is the Moxi Trick Wheel in Tan. I also prefer to spin without toe stops in, but toe-stopless skating is a whole 'nother blog post.

Wind your body up and then spin spin sugar!

Recommended songs: You Spin Me Round - Dead or Alive

Spinning Around - Kylie Minougue

What are your favourite songs to spin to?

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