The balance is still a little precarious, but on this very sunny Saturday in Toulouse, Émilie displays a radiant smile: in the end, rollerblading is not that complicated. “I decided to get started after the second confinement, says the 30-something. I took my time to learn during the winter with my companion, used to the practice. The goal is to get to work, three kilometers from my home. At the beginning of June, I start. “
Getting around on small wheels is also the choice of 20-year-old Leah, but she chose skateboarding. “I did not dare too much, explains the student, but I tried my luck with some buddies during the first lockdown, taking advantage of the authorized hour-long walk and the fact that there was not a lot of traffic. I hung on well. I am not daredevil, I do not do figures. I’m using it to go to college. The next step is the electric longboard that I will buy myself this summer. “
The conjunction of several phenomena
In Toulouse as in other metropolises, it is obvious: skates, rollerblades and other skates are out again. It is certainly not a tsunami with wheels, but the trend is real, and especially in contrast to recent years when this form of urban sliding seemed out of fashion. “This return to form is the conjunction of several phenomena, underlines Boris Darlet, the president of the French Federation of roller and skateboard (FFRS). During confinement, families looked for ways to move, and in urban areas rollerblading reappeared as a fun and accessible slide. On the other hand, there is a search for alternative mobility to which our disciplines respond. And, finally, social networks have also participated in the revival of the practice, particularly for rollerblading dance. “
From the summer of 2020, the number of videos of young dancers on the TikTok and Instagram applications has multiplied, which revived the “rollergirls” vogue of the 1970s and 1980s. “The ‘old’ roller skates – quads – do an incredible job comeback and we even have shortages ”, says Jonathan Maupin, communications manager at Oxelo, the brand launched in 2008 by Decathlon for urban board sports. “For roller skating more broadly, the market is traditionally driven by children’s products, but here we are seeing a 20% increase in adult products. This is important in France, but also in many countries, with madness in the Netherlands where growth is close to 200%. “
Sustain the practices
This enthusiasm, the RSMC does not yet measure in its clubs, most of which had mainly developed indoor activities in recent years. “With rink hockey, artistic rollerblading, we have invested a lot in gymnasiums, and the closures linked to confinements have inevitably reduced the number of licensees, from 65,000 to 49,000 with the pandemic. But the clubs are trying to adapt by reinvesting in the streets, and it is now up to us to capture new practitioners ”, considers Boris Darlet.
The manager is also counting on a new partnership with Decathlon, which offers, when purchasing roller skates, a free course, and offers to be found on a digital platform set up with the manufacturer (myroller.fr). “These disciplines are marked by too much” abandonment “: we try and put the roller blades on the shelf., notes Jonathan Maupin. We therefore now wish to support practices to make them sustainable. Skateboarding can also benefit from its inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics program to better reveal itself to a large audience. “
The debates between supporters of the skate lifestyle, fearing that their culture will be diluted too much in the Olympic bath, and supporters of the opening to competition seem less virulent than in 2016, when the announcement was made. integration into the Games. “We have less than 3,000 licensees in skateboarding, the clubs are only present in 10% of skateparks in France, and we therefore have a whole practice to structure before the 2024 Games. Skateboarding, until then very marginal, can become our lead product ”, bet Boris Darlet. By changing in passing an image of rebellious sport reserved for a few fierce stuntmen. “A fairly negative view still remains in the general public, regrets Jonathan Maupin. While the discipline is already changing. It is particularly feminized. And the Tokyo Games, welcoming 40 champions and 40 champions, will show this real and really interesting evolution of practice. “
The popularity of rollerdance
And here is the good old skate which returns in the dance. With, as often, a “buzz” rising on social networks. From spring 2020, some young practitioners such as Cuban actress Ana Coto or Berliner Oumi Janta record millions of views with their videos on TikTok or Instagram. Fashion is launched, and the wave continues to grow. An update, in fact, of the “rollergirls” of the 1970s and 1980s, including the disco queens Cher or Olivia Newton-John, and many others who populated the clips of Californian music on repeat on the MTV channel. . Today, it is also the American star Lana Del Rey who recycles the image with her latest hit, White Dress.