Great Pop Culture Moments in Roller-Skating Style


When you think “roller-skating style,” images of Xanadu and Roller Girl likely skate through your head. And they’re prime examples of pop-cultural fashion plates on eight wheels. But oh! There are so many more. With help from Old Navy, we’ve rounded up some of the greatest roller-skating style moments in pop culture. It’s all in honor of their Denim Moves Roller Disco, happening at the historic Moonlight Rollerway in LA on August 21. RSVP now to attend! And if you’re not in LA, don’t worry: you can still score Old Navy sculpt denim at 25% off with code DENIMMOVES (valid from 8/11-9/1). Now, on to the stylish skaters…

Xanadu Olivia Newton John’s knee-high skate boots may be the most memorable touch point for classic ’80s roller style, but remember: Xanadu didn’t exist in a vacuum. It was one of many “skatesploitation” films to come out in the late ’70s and early ’80s (see also Roller Boogie, Rollerball, and Skatetown USA for more retro fashion inspiration).

Starlight Express Speaking of “skatesploitation,” Andrew Lloyd Webber also got into the skate game with his musical, Starlight Express, a bizarre Cinderella story somehow about trains (played by actors on skates). Europeans loved it — it ran for ages in the West End and is apparently still going in Germany — but only lasted 761 shows on Broadway. That said, we can’t fault its super colorful, 80’s-tastic retro-futuristic costumes.

The Rapture, “Gotta Get Myself Into It” Bonus points to Them Jeans if he spins this at the Denim Moves Magic Hour. Double bonus points to anyone who comes dressed in a sharp white suit with their initial embroidered on the front a la Laverne & Shirley.

Roll Bounce Lil Bow Wow — sorry, Bow Wow — was at peak adorability in flares and skates.

Beyonce, “Blow” Beyonce and crew serving serious Day-Glo squad goals, right here.

Boogie Nights The look that launched a thousand Halloween costumes. We’re not mad. Heather Graham owns the short shorts and tall socks look!

Chet Faker, “Gold” We can’t advocate skating in the middle of the street at night, but we’re big advocates of these ensembles.

Questlove & Prince Questlove, Eddie Murphy, and Prince skate onto the rink… Sounds like an epic joke setup (and Quest thought it was for a while, too!), but it’s not. Here’s how he describes seeing Prince’s pair of skates:

“When I got back, Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singu­lar pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path.”

Definitely epic, but no joke. Get more of the story from this excerpt of Questlove’s book, Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.

De La Soul, “A Rollerskating Jam Named ‘Saturdays'” We leave you with this De La classic from 1991 celebrating summertime roller vibes with retro samples and feel-good rhymes. There’s no better tune or video to get you in the mood for the Denim Moves Roller Disco.

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