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How two friends started an 80s retro roller skating club in Liverpool

11 months ago

How two friends started an 80s retro roller skating club in Liverpool
Retro City Rollers

When friends Pandy Nicholas and Sue Rowlandson decided to dig out their old roller boots and go skating again, they really just intended it to be a way to exercise and spend time together.

But as they did their first slightly wobbly circuits of Sefton Park, they found that lots of other women fancied going back to try something they’d loved as kids. So much so that Pandy and Sue set up the Retro City Rollers.

The group now has all ages and abilities skating every week to a soundtrack of massive 80s tunes.

The Retro City Rollers spend their Monday mornings whizzing around Greenbank Sports Academy with everything from Cyndi Lauper to Bon Jovi in the background.

And, says Pandy, it’s the best way to start off their week by having a laugh and moving to stay healthy.

“We absolutely love it, and we smash about 3,000 steps on our Fitbits in that hour, but you don’t realise how much exercise you’re doing because it’s just fun.”

Credit: Retro City Rollers
Credit: Retro City Rollers

Pandy says their nostalgic skate sessions have really taken off as everyone remembers just how much they enjoyed it back in the day.

“As a kid and as a teenager my skates were permanently on my feet. We used to go to the roller rink at Pleasure Island, and I was always skating round the streets after school. My mum would get me to go to the shops for something so I’d be skating round the supermarket!

“At the end of summer last year Sue and I were looking for something to do on a Monday. Sue worked part-time and when my son Adam was in school I had a few hours spare, so we were thinking about going swimming but then I remembered I’d got my old roller boots in the shed.  She said she had some too, so we thought we’d go skating. 

“When you’re an adult and you put them back on after a long time, it is like riding a bike but it’s about confidence as well. When you’re a kid you don’t care, but it’s different when you’re an adult so you’ve got to get rid of that fear of ‘I’m going to fall’ and just go with it. 

“We started in September last year, coming out of summer and into autumn, and at first it was just the two of us, every Monday morning going round Sefton Park. 

“I put up a post on social and other friends said they’d love to come so we started a little group. Once the twigs and leaves started to fall in autumn we needed somewhere smoother so we went to Otterspool but that was too gravelly.

“After that we went to Allerton Cemetery and their path was really nice but when we saw a cortege of funeral cars coming, we’d literally duck behind the bushes until they went passed and then get back on the path! 

“As there was getting to be more of us, it felt a little bit disrespectful so we decided we needed to take it indoors. Someone mentioned to Sue about Greenbank, we went and had a look and one of the big basketball courts was ideal.”

Since they’ve moved venues, the group has kept on growing. It’s mostly women but Pandy says they’d welcome men, and it’s all ages and levels.

Credit: Retro City Rollers
Credit: Retro City Rollers

“There’s me and Sue who’ve just hit 50 but also younger people and people in their 60s as well.

“When we were in the park it was amazing how many people would come up to us and say, ‘I’d love to do that’ and there was always a but. Either they thought they were too old, or they’d not skated in years so they were worried about falling. 

“We say to anyone who comes, if you fall over there’s no judgement here, we all fall over. And now we’ve taken it inside, it’s a really smooth surface so it’s lovely to skate on, with no stones or tree branches to worry about.”

Retro City Rollers sessions are drop-in every Monday between 11am and 12pm and they have some spare roller boots in sizes 3-8 for anyone who wants to have a go without committing straight away to buying a pair.

“We go one way for 30 minutes then change direction and go the other way, and in the middle you can practice your twizzies or going backwards, that’s your safe space to do that. And we have the Spotify 80s skating playlist blasting out all the way!”

For more info on Retro City Rollers follow them on Instagram here.



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