A centuries-old activity is experiencing a new boom.
Roller skating, once seen as something posh and affluent, has undergone a transformation with black skating culture leading the trend. There is evidence that Indianapolis’ black skate culture dates back about 70 years or more.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — History shows us that sometimes moments can get lost in time.
An Indianapolis man uses his camera to capture them. To truly understand the feeling, you have to be there, but an image can transport you.
“I’m passionate about expressing black culture,” said photographer and roller skater Wildstyle Paschall. “Black people, we know what we do is creative and fun and people actually enjoy life and love each other.”
“Wildstyle” is a name earned for being a bit wild and reckless on wheels. The skating life is not new to him; it is tradition. “Some of my earliest memories are on a roller rink.”
He’s kind of a historian as a man behind the camera. Many of his images were captured with him in motion. “When I started skating again, that was the first thing I thought of, it was like, ‘I never, ever captured that.’ You know, technology has changed where it’s a lot easier.
Black culture is what he captures, and his talent is also worth capturing.
“I know in the black community they say it hasn’t changed much, but definitely, on social media and mainstream culture, skating is trending now,” Paschall said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, wood, although familiar territory, has become his muse, and there is a respect between generations. It’s a chance to honor these “Ms. Nina”, 80, and other guardians of culture.
Paschall said of Ms Nina, as she asked to be mentioned by News 8, “She’s an unbroken link from her 1950s era to today, and she still speaks to young people”, while acknowledging those to come.
“Skating is such a safe space. There aren’t a lot of places for young black people too,” Paschall said.
Black skate culture was born out of necessity and lack of access: no access to public rinks and often little money.
“And yet, we combine all of that on the roller skating rink, with our music and that kind of culture, and it takes on a life of its own,” Paschall said.
Although the culture is deeply rooted in the wood, it is open ground.
“It’s definitely a black culture there, but everyone’s invited and everyone’s welcome,” he said.
For those who are not quite comfortable on wheels, several groups can help. Check with the nearest ice rinks to find out which skating days will suit you best.