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Black skate culture thrives with enthusiasts, Naptown Real Rollers

A centuries-old activity is gaining renewed momentum.

Roller skating, once considered something for the posh and wealthy, has undergone a transformation with Black skating culture leading the trend. There’s evidence that the Indianapolis Black skate culture goes back roughly 70 years or more.

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When the wheels hit the hardwood, it’s magic.

Lowell Harris, president of Naptown Real Rollers, said, “And what keeps me coming back is that type of excitement.”

Once you’ve found the groove, the music moves you.

“I love what I do. I love skating,” said Naptown Real Roller skater, Terrell Jackson.

Roller skating, this is life.

Naptown Real Roller skater Deschantrice Smith said, “You can’t even explain it. It’s beyond skating. It’s a whole culture in itself.”

There’s a melody found in each wheel rotation, and the symphony can last a lifetime depending on how long you go. That’s the beauty. Some would call it poetry in motion.

“I can change it up again, still remain smooth,” said LaMone Rogers.

That’s where Naptown Real Rollers’ Rogers gets his skate name. He and Harris founded the group in 1999.

“So at that point, I said, you know, let’s see if we can start a culture ourselves and keep that tradition going and that’s kind of how this club actually took off,” Rogers said.

The duo is still rolling, now with a quite few more on the roster. Skateland, 3902 N. Glen Arm Road on the northwest side, is home base for a weekly adult roller skate night, and the crew always shows out.

Harris said, “Important thing for this club was to bring people in, teach them the art and the flow of skating and introduce them to something other than what’s out there on the streets.”

At the heart is a love for skating, fellowship and community building. The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastation has opened up the skating world even more.

Jackson said, “This is where a lot of people come to get away.”

Further proving there’s a freedom found out on the floor, and it’s an open space for the newcomers and pros.

Smith said, “A lot of people always say, ‘That just looks so cool. I just wish I can come out there and skate. And you guys look amazing. Whoa.’ The only way you can get anywhere to where we are now is if you try it just come put some skates on.”

Harris said when you talk about history, Black skating culture grows deep in Indiana. “Black culture of skating, it not only stayed alive, but it is growing and growing bigger.”

The Naptown Real Rollers is a traveling skate group. So Black skate culture isn’t unique to Indiana. You’ll find similar skating scenes around the country.

Part 2