In Seattle, roller skating is fashion heaven

Sepúlveda pushes as Alex Monique “shoots the duck”.

Miracle Sepúlveda exclusively wears the color pink, from her hair to her knee pads to the glow wheels she dyed herself. His gaze evolved as his skills progressed.

In a June 2020 video captioned “I’m not the best skater, but man! I am proud of this progress! Sepúlveda wears a peach-colored floral dress and pink wrist guards to practice pirouettes in a parking lot; in the summer of 2021, she has her hair dyed pink, is decked out in her all-pink leggings and sports bra combo, and she’s perfecting a 10-second toe twist.

It’s not just her roller-skating outfit that’s gone monochromatic: It fits right in with her job at Capitol Hill’s Nice living room with cartoon character precision (she first found the vintage store after Googling “pretty pink shop”). “Roller skating definitely pushed me to be myself,” says Sepúlveda. “I was already on this road, but it solidified it.”

Sepúlveda’s evolution from a black-clad makeup artist to a Sailor Moon-inspired “magical girl” with tens of thousands of TikTok fans began around the time she and dozens of other members of the Seattle skate community first rode the sidewalk.

The pandemic has sparked something of a renaissance in roller skating around the world, with thousands of first-time skaters lured outdoors by Covid restrictions and carefully selected streams of beautiful women spinning by the beach in candy colored bikinis and boots. Skate manufacturers were struggling to keep up. When summer came Get Your Skate Shop Bearings, now located in the northwest corner of Lake City, had customers buying popular Moxi skates within minutes every time they logged on online. At least a BuzzFeed article– crediting the “viral TikTok sensation” of a Los Angeles dancer “looking awfully cool while skating to J.Lo” – proclaimed “Roller skating is back in a big way”.

But roller skating never went anywhere, especially in black communities who popularized styles like dance-centric skating despite discriminatory practices at rinks nationwide. “If you go back to the beginning, you know, we had to protest just to get in the rink, just to be able to skate, just to have one night a month,” says Tiffany Mason, founder of local skate group Roll Around Seatown.

These adult parties, known for R&B DJs and skilled attendees, have been a part of Mason’s life since she was a pre-teen in Seattle. now she hosts Seatown’s Sunday skates at the White Center’s Southgate Ice Rinkthe only one that remains within the city limits.

For her, sport has always been closely linked to fashion. She recalls, at Bellevue Skate King adult parties in the 1980s, seeing a gray-haired woman named Gertrude skating in flamboyant neon outfits. “She always looked like she was coming from a parade or going to a parade,” Mason says. The outfits “reflected the way she skated and the fun she had. And that has always caught my attention.

When Mason skates, whether at the ice rink or at Judkins Park, where Roll Around Seatown built Seattle’s first cohesive outdoor skating community via super-popular, weather-dependent social skates, she wears flowing outfits to bell sleeves that shimmer and move with her (often in bright colors inspired by Gertrude). “Honestly, I feel like I skate better when I dress up,” Mason says. She even learns to sew, so she can bring her dream skate looks to life. “For me, they go together.”

She’s not the only one at Judkins for whom skateboarding has inspired fashion design. Nicole Spiegel, whose personal skating renaissance came at the Burning Man rink in 2018, uses her experience crafting clothes for the hula-hoop and fire spin to create outfits that make her feel both at home. fashionable and comfortable on wheels. Namely, hand-laundered sweatpants and natural fiber bodysuits covered with custom slits from her own fashion line, Torn in Seattle. “If I can’t do the splits in my clothes, I don’t know if I can wear them,” she says.

The idea of ​​self-expression through skate fashion is one that resonates with many Judkins regulars. Sierra Wagner, who leads another group called Seattle skatesopt for crop tops, snake print skates, and pants with a cinched waist that won’t fall off when she drops them (which she does, for effect). Celina Macadangdang always keeps a skate outfit in her car; today it’s a large Adidas tracksuit. Tyler Richards also wears Adidas: a limited-edition white jumpsuit with an orange and yellow sun embroidered on the back and “Love Unites” on the thigh. He says it’s “fun to show up with as much color” as the graffiti-covered walls around the concrete rink where, over the past two years, much of Seattle’s skating magic has happened. produced.

But don’t confuse bright colors and coordinated outfits with just a fashion statement. “It’s an extremely safe space for all types of people,” says Dalila Gittens, including BIPOC and LGBTQ skaters. Sepúlveda agrees: “Not only are people open about who they are, they’re open about expressing that to everyone.”

Fashion, of course, isn’t always central – this is Seattle, after all. Many people dress exclusively for comfort. And it is certainly not a prerequisite for getting deeply involved. “It’s not a clique, it’s a community,” Mason says. “You have a positive attitude and you want to be here, this is your home.”