Updated: May 4, 2020
Thank you so much to our gangster, Emma, for writing up her experiences of Roll On London. This is a roller dance event hosted by We The NC - a London based group of skaters who promote and support roller dance in its many forms. July 2019 saw the second annual Roll On London event, held over three days, with a warm up skate on Thursday night. Emma has been attending roller dance classes regularly and practising herself. We hope you feel inspired to come to class and attend larger roller dance events in the future!
Photo credits: We The NC (photos 1 and 3)
Friday 28th July
I jumped in to Mel's car feeling super excited, and a little anxious about going away for the weekend to We the NC's skate event: Roll on London.Having never been to a skating event before I had no idea what it would entail. Would I be a good enough skater? Would I feel completely intimated? Would it be completely inspiring and make me want to set myself challenges to become a better skater? Only time would tell.
Having arrived and unpacked, we made our way to Rollercity in Welwyn Garden City. We walked in to a room with music blasting, a huge light installation on the back wall and hundreds of people from all around the globe sharing one amazing passion; skating. My senses wereheightened and I was really excited to get going. After meeting some lovely people and chatting to them we made our way on to the dance floor. As we skated around to warm up I was in complete awe of some of the skills people were displaying. My mouth was literally wide-open as I gawped at people! The large groups of people all doing the same dance and joining in so easily. I wanted to be them. I wanted to be in their group. It was so eye-opening to see what you can do on 8 wheels! How long had these guys been skating? How hard had they practised and for how long? Could I join in? Was I good enough? I tried to join in and felt (and looked) like Bambi on Ice. I'm somebody who finds failure a difficult thing to accept and process so with my stubborn, and determined, personality I decided to go to the corner to practise (which Maggie and I ended up naming 'The Baby Corner').
My brain became completely overwhelmed and my legs weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing. I felt like an idiot - like I was sitting an exam where I knew none of the answers to the questions. An overwhelming feeling of sadness came over me and thoughts suddenly popped in to my head; "Please don't cry you're with people you've only known for a short time. How are you going to survive the rest of the weekend? I think I want to go home." I decided to go and get a drink and some food to clear my head.
After having a chat with people and sharing my thoughts openly, it came to light that this overwhelming feeling wasn't just something that only I had felt. Feeling more at ease, I made my way back to 'The Baby Corner' to practise some steps with Maggie, but it just wasn't clicking into place and I suddenly felt upset all over again. Thankfully an amazing man, named Jon, and his friend came over and asked why we were in the corner. I explained that I had only been skating a year and had only been roller dancing for 6 months and felt extremely intimidated. He laughed and told me not to worry and said that we were doing a great job. Even if this wasn't true it felt amazing to be approached by a complete stranger who had such a positive mindset and truly wanted to help and support us. Jon talked through a small step with me and held my hands so that I didn't fall. I felt so happy that there was a connection between everybody in the whole room and that was because we all shared the same passion. It didn't matter what level you were at or how long you'd been skating, if you asked, most people would be nice and spend time helping you. I say 'most' as I obviously didn't have time to meet the hundreds of people that were there. After an exhausting and amazing evening we left and went back to the hotel. I'd survived day one of Roll on London.
Saturday 29th July After a good night's sleep and a good talking to - I got over myself - and decided that my attitude would be completely different today. We spent an amazing day in central London hanging out with Craig, Playtone and the Roller Girl Gang (RGG) eating Jamaican food, hooping and dancing, just what I needed before the main event tonight. We went back to the hotel, had a disco nap and then got ready to go!
Tonight the venue was in Rollerworld, Colchester and the roller disco ran from 10pm-5am! I knew tonight would be busier than the previous night and that the vibe would be incredible. When we arrived the venue was buzzing. Although it was much busier than Rollercity, my feelings of anxiety had completely vanished. I knew that I had the basic level of dance to join in with basic moves and anything else…..well I'd have a good go at it anyway.
As the night went on there were several small breaks in which you could gather around and watch people dance, spin, do the splits, skate on one wheel…it was mind blowing. It was at this point that I knew I wasn't at this level at all, but it didn’t bother me anymore and these guys and gals were a complete inspiration. It just shows what true passion, dedication and practice can achieve and it only spurred me on more. Colchester also had speed skating breaks, where the rink was completely cleared for this particular style of skating. I must admit however that I will not be partaking in any 'speed skating' session any time soon, it was mega-fast!
After watching everybody and joining in with some dances, Maggie and I were inspired to make up our own. It was really simple but worked well with the music that was playing. Before we knew it, we had a little crowd of people following us and copying the moves. It made me feel proud that people wanted to do our dance and that you don't have to be doing something spectacular for it to look amazing and to fit well with the music. Someone had hula hoops with them, and as an avid hula-hooper I had a go at hooping and skating, making another new friend in the process!
I really enjoyed the Saturday. I met so many people, made new friends, spent time with old friends, absorbed knowledge and saw some amazing skating. With my heart full and a huge smile on my face we went back to the hotel and had a few hours sleep before heading to the Hyde Park meet up on Sunday. It was a last chance to skate with some of the people we had met and a chance to say goodbye to people from around the world.
What I can definitely say about this event was that even though I was full of self doubt and anxiety, the skate community completely changed that mindset. They were extremely welcoming, nurturing and most of all inspiring. I would absolutely recommend people to attend this event, even if just to watch the skaters. You will feel so much joy, inspiration and a sense of belonging that is hard to find in our busy day-to-day lives!
Thank you for reading my super long review - Emma xx