Skip to main content

Roller Skates: A True Cultural Phenomenon

 Skating is a wonderful way for people to socialize with others. It is why so many young children and older individuals love skating.

Skating is a wonderful way for people to socialize with others. It is why so many young children and older individuals love skating.

A Brief History of Roller Skates

The first ever roller skates were patented in 1760 by Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin. His design was the first inline skate that consisted of wheels instead of blades. It was dubbed the first ice skate by industrial companies.

The Belgian inventor's new product was not very popular due in part to its lack of brakes, which made his skates hard to use.

In 1840, an opera house sponsored an event highlighting Merlin's new design, giving it some popularity as performers wore his skates on stage during an ice skating scene. The marketing strategy was successful as the design became popular among teens.

Another inventor created a better version of Merlin's original roller skates in 1863. James Plimpton's design was the first ever "rocking skate." It used a four wheel configuration for stability. His design also included independent axles which allowed a skater to move more freely and perform difficult edge turns.

Plimpton's invention became immensely popular throughout Europe and quickly gained global popularity. His new invention was dubbed "rinkomania" in 1870. His design is still in use today.

Roller skating eventually evolved from a social pass time to competitive sports which includes jam, roller derby, and inline skating, also known as modern day ice skating.

The cultural phenomenon began in the late 1800s and early 19th century with the development of skating rings. Its popularity peaked during the 1970s disco era. Roller skates became so popular that Hollywood production companies and advertisers began including them in their films and television commercials across the United States.

In the 1990s, skating lost some of its momentum but has now generated popularity again among young people due in part to its many sporting activities.

Roller skates are now also used in music videos.

Types of Roller Skates

There have been numerous variations of roller skates developed since Merlin's first design. These variations include speed, outdoor, indoor, and derby skates as well as rollerblades.

Derby Skates

Derby skates, also known as quad skates, are usually used in racing events and sports activities due in part to their durability. They allow racers to perform extremely hard turns and brakes.

Speed Skates

Speed skates are used for racing at super high speeds. They have a low boot cut design which are similar to tennis shoes. These skates feature speed style wheels and bearings that allow the skater to skate very fast.


Rollerblades are used in outdoor activities and as a cool hobby among teenagers and young adults. Their built-in safety straps allow skaters to skate at moderate speeds without falling. Their popularity spiked in the early 1990s. They are still very popular today as well.


Why Do Children and Adults Love Skating?

The thrill of skating has never gone out of style. It has become a hobby for many children and young adults. Roller skates are mostly preferred among small children due to their safety brakes. Many teenagers and adults use roller blades as their skating option because of its modern outdoor appeal and easy usage.

The young and old alike enjoy participating in skating rings and competitions. It really adds an incredible adrenaline rush to peoples daily lives. People love the idea of competing.

Roller skating is a super awesome sport that can bring an amazing amount of happiness to a person.

Ice skating rings across the world have hosted large crowds of people looking for a cool activity to enjoy with their family and friends. Skating is a wonderful way for people to socialize with others. It is why so many young children and older individuals love skating. The art of skating is quite addictive. People enjoy roller skating year round and rarely ever get tired of the activity.

The next time you find yourself near a skating ring or skating derby, try it out. You won't regret your choice of giving the cool sport a chance.


Theblogchick (author) from United States on February 03, 2019:

Thanks Liz, I am trying to improve my grammar. I do appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Thanks again for commenting.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 03, 2019:

Another craze a few years ago in the UK was a variation on roller skates. Trainers were made with small wheels embedded in the soles. When I first joined Hub Pages, another hubber advised downloading a free version of grammarly to help with spelling and grammar. I have found it very helpful. You might find it useful.