California is in a ‘new era of roller-skating.’ Here’s where to roll into the party

There are few trendy L.A. scenes you can show up to as a lonesome outsider, then leave with at least one new friend — if not a whole built-in community to call home. But that’s exactly what happened as I rolled through dozens of local roller skaters’ favorite spots across Los Angeles County.

Yet the city’s roller-skating scene also seems stuck in a purgatory of sorts, as communities struggle to find safe spaces to do what they love amid constant pandemic-related changes.

Coloma Muro practices her footwork at the Mar Vista Roller Hockey Rink.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Caught between a boom of social media virality during a bust of the city’s most iconic indoor rinks, skating in L.A. at times feels defined by the clash of two distinct cultures. Longtime local skaters raised in the traditions of L.A.’s legendary roller-dance scene mourn the loss of its historic locales like World on Wheels, which permanently closed in 2021. Meanwhile, an ever-growing wave of new outdoor skaters now flocks to L.A.’s palm tree-lined boardwalks, boosting burgeoning online skating communities as well as their own social media profiles.


“It hurts me to say but indoor rinks are going to be obsolete. Just history,” laments Raquel “Roxy” Young, a third-generation skater turned community organizer fighting to preserve that culture.

An insider’s travel guide that takes you beyond the mouse ears, selfie spots and Golden Gate Bridge.

May 19, 2022

Even before the pandemic, she saw the writing on the wall, sensing the efforts to reopen World on Wheels would die alongside her cousin, rapper Nipsey Hussle. Now, she carries the hometown hero’s spirit by organizing free monthly outdoor skate parties for her displaced community. Anyone is welcome. But Young condemns the newbie “TikTok skaters,” who gained followings by learning from OG L.A. skaters yet fail to give back as their culture struggles to survive.

“We’re out here on the front lines trying to save the rinks you started from,” Young says. “This is our lifeline. So what can you do to help us, to use your influence to be on our team, and keep this safe haven for us?”


Yet the other side of that cultural divide is no monolith, either. Some of L.A.’s online roller-skating scene is clout chasing a trend, while others see social media as a vehicle for building their own communal niches.

Jennifer Yonda began the L.A. Skate Hunnies Instagram out of a desire to simply meet other girls who shared her passion for rollouts. Though the pandemic made outdoor skating one of the few safe ways to socialize, doing it alone still came with the potential for injury, harassment and violence.

“I like to call it a ‘third place’ for people. You have work, you have home, then your third place can be a Skate Hunnies meetup,” Yonda says.

Many L.A.-based outdoor skaters share that goal of holding space for other marginalized folks. Skate parks and the larger skate sports scene can be overwhelmingly white, straight and male-dominated, with an aggressive culture that makes many feel unwelcome.


Roller skaters gather at the Mar Vista Roller Hockey Rink.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

It’s part of why “we accept you” is the tagline for Tony McCoy’s DTLA_Sk8_Cru. McCoy quickly became a formative leader in L.A.’s inclusive outdoor skate scene after a year of organizing a beloved weekly meetup outside the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Yet like so many skate crew events that benefited from the relaxation of official rules in public and private spaces during the early days of the pandemic, it was recently shut down after the museum fully reopened.

Less than a month later, though, McCoy collaborated with groups like the Skate Hunnies for a Pride-themed Father’s Day Sk8palooza. It also honored the four-year anniversary of his son’s suicide, after a struggle to accept his own sexuality. The day of radical joy embodied the ideals McCoy built into his skate community, of “love, acceptance of others and yourself — and taking care of each other.”

Where to hang out in Los Angeles when you want to meet queer folks but don’t want to roll up to the usual gay bars and clubs.

June 2, 2022

It’s no wonder so many Los Angeles Pride events collaborated with their neighborhoods’ own roller groups.


Ironically, though, even the trendy outdoor scene finds itself displaced in L.A. now. During the first year and a half of the pandemic, public park officials hoped to discourage large gatherings by removing equipment like nets from basketball courts. Few could stop the growing number of roller skaters from commandeering such ideal empty courts and vacant parking lots for themselves, though — until city recreational facilities officially reopened. Today, arguments over who gets to use such spaces often end with skaters getting kicked to the curb.

“It’s an entire new era of roller-skating,” said Passion Jackson of Lover Girl Skate Club, an L.A. native who teaches aerobics routines at events. Far from stopping, though, it’s only forcing organizers to get more creative.

After Shayna “Pigeon” Meikle, longtime owner of Long Beach’s favorite roller-skate shop, heard about a skater getting hit by a car in a parking lot, she knew she had to help fix the mounting problem.

People skating at an indoor roller rink.
Pigeon’s Roller Rink in Long Beach.
(Emily Monforte / For The Times)

“The amount of skaters increased but the amount of places to safely skate decreased,” Meikle says. While her pop-up rink provided a popular option for nearly a year, it too will soon shut down due to a resuming development project that was put on pause during the pandemic.

Though Meikle dreams of establishing a permanent home for Long Beach skaters, others wrestle for use of public space in other cities across Los Angeles County. Kim Manning, a professional artistic skater, influencer and teacher, also questions why officials across the county don’t work to accommodate roller skaters at public tennis, pickleball or basketball courts. Instead, local programs prioritize funding temporary and low-quality pop-up rinks, like the slippery sports court used for Visit WeHo’s Summer on Sunset. (I have appeared in some of Manning’s skate videos.)

Where to go in Los Angeles when you need a pool to cool off? Hotels with day passes.

July 14, 2023

Parks and city council officials in Los Angeles, Inglewood and West Hollywood did not respond to requests for comment.


Government resources in the L.A. area fund countless free skate parks as well as pickleball, basketball and tennis courts. “Yet we can only have one single skate plaza that the people had to pay to fix themselves?” she asks, referring to the community-funded Venice Beach Dance Skate Plaza restoration.

Still, where there’s a skater, there’s a way. Participating in today’s on-the-go L.A. roller scene can feel a bit like stormchasing. But it’s full of folks wanting to make a home of it alongside you.

Showing  Places
Several people at an outdoor skating rink
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Mar Vista Roller Hockey Rink

Mar Vista Point of Interest
This open outdoor rink is the best home roller skaters could make of public space in L.A. city proper. Offering the largest, smoothest surface, Mar Vista is also the only hockey rink not kept behind tall, locked fencing. Skating crowds blasting music often gather around sunset, though street lights shut off around 9 to 10 p.m. Aside from times reserved exclusively for hockey (which is most active during summer months), you can share the rink anytime.
More Info
A beachfront skate park draws a crowd of roller skaters.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Venice Beach Roller Skate Dance Plaza and Skatepark

Venice Point of Interest
The historic site of L.A.’s iconic ’80s skate dance scene (as immortalized in the “Roller Dreams” documentary) is a modestly sized, smooth-as-butter concrete area and a favorite of street-skating stars both past and present. Brave souls can elbow for ramp space in the notoriously aggressive Venice Skatepark behind, though most roller skaters opt for nearby Cove Skatepark instead.
More Info
Roller skaters on the Marvin Braude Bike Trail.
(Deborah Hart)

Marvin Braude Bike Trail

Manhattan Beach Point of Interest
Despite being the setting for many a viral TikTok, I suggest avoiding the more crowded and sandy stretches around Venice and Santa Monica. Instead, stick to Redondo Beach or Manhattan Beach. Skate Hunnies founder Jennifer Yonda loves the Strand in Manhattan Beach as a starting point for the group’s regular rollouts, which often pass through the Promenade too.
More Info
Roller skaters strike poses during Rainbow Skate Night at Moonlight Rollerway.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Moonlight Rollerway

Point of Interest
As the only indoor rink left in L.A. County, Moonlight Rollerway’s inclusion on this list is all but compulsory. Seemingly unchanged since the 1950s, it serves vintage vibes with a disco ball-lit wooden floor and outdated music. When not being used for high-profile music videos, it’s best known for LGBTQ-friendly Rainbow Night. However, it’s overshadowed by rules that exclude skate styles from predominantly Black and brown communities.

Cost: $10-$18, $6 skate rentals
More Info
A roller skater on a curved wall
(Pigeon’s Roller Skate Shop)

Pigeon’s Roller Rink

Long Beach Point of Interest
Run, don’t walk, to catch the last month of this Long Beach pop-up in August. Astroturf and cozy velvet sofas surround the compact yet never-too-crowded concrete floor. Giving Urban Outfitters catalog vibes, its inspired theme nights range from Summer-Ween to K-Pop. While mostly catering to the Instagram-ready outdoor skate crowd, it’s very community-oriented and the only rink in town offering reduced prices in response to inflation.
More Info
Roller skaters on Newport Beach Blacktop roll toward a glowing sunset and palm trees.
(Jess Joho)

Newport Beach Blacktop

Newport Beach Point of Interest
The pandemic turned this expansive, well-paved playground behind Newport Elementary — with gorgeous oceanfront views — into a favorite hidden gem of L.A.’s skate influencers willing to brave over an hour of freeway traffic. Though plenty of quad skaters abound, you can join groups like Always Rolling, which sometimes sets up ramps. Beginners avoiding the more trafficked beach bike paths will love the Newport Balboa Bike Trail as an alternative.
More Info
People roller skating at Fountain Valley Skate Center, with neon art on the wall
(Jess Joho)

Fountain Valley Skate Center

Fountain Valley Point of Interest
Fountain Valley Skate Center is a place where new-school and old-school skaters come to unite and pass on the culture, routines and moves that never go out of style. On Thursday’s R&B Night, you may even catch glimpses of bona fide OGs of the Venice Beach crew. However, some patrons expressed disappointment in recently increased security and instead prefer Holiday Skate Center in Orange.

Cost: $12-$18, $7 skate rental
More Info
Skaters on a bridge over the L.A. River
(Jess Joho )

Los Angeles River Bike Path

Elysian Valley Point of Interest
Though not yet complete, the revitalization project of this eight-mile bike trail is already paying dividends. Spanning from Elysian Valley to downtown L.A., the peaceful path winds down the L.A. River, creating a vista that will change how you think about the oft-ignored waterway. Roller skaters should go for all-pavement entrances like the one near Elysian Valley’s La Colombe Coffee Roasters. Another near Marsh Skatepark makes for an ideal meetup for all-wheels rollouts, like the one led by the BIPOC- and LGBTQ-led Eastside collective Boos Cruise.
More Info
Men and women roller skate in the sun.
(Jess Joho)

Los Angeles State Historic Park

Chinatown Point of Interest
Tony McCoy’s (of DTLA_Sk8_Cru) monthly meetup has a designated skate area near Cargo Snack Shack. His June Sk8palooza welcomed all wheels and even nonskaters alike for a day of jamming, picnicking and a Chinatown rollout — culminating in a “rooftop” dance party on the bridge overlooking the city skyline. However, ramp lovers will find more to shred at the nearby Lincoln and Chevy Chase skateparks. (Of note, there was a shooting near Chevy Chase skatepark in June, but skating groups say the incident was a rarity and would still recommend the skate spot.)
More Info
Outdoor roller skaters at L.A. Kings Burbank Sports Center.
(Jess Joho)

L.A. Kings Burbank Sports Center

Burbank Point of Interest
With a grippier court better suited to hockey, this outdoor rink still earns a spot thanks to events organized by Skate Oddity, Rogue Rollers and the Sk8 Pop Up. Skate Oddity caters to an alternative crowd who’d rather rock out to Kate Bush for gothy theme nights. As the only outdoor rink offering rentals, it’s the most beginner-friendly. Despite lacking Mar Vista’s free open skates, there are designated Summer Skate Nights Friday to Monday.

Cost: $15-$25 events, $7 skate nights, $5 skate rentals
More Info
A person roller skating on an outdoor basketball court
(Jon Endow)

CicLAvia Open Street events

Point of Interest
South L.A. communities (particularly Inglewood) made Los Angeles’ roller-dance scene into what it is today. Though indoor rink closures left that rich culture with no nearby home, community groups like UnityRollaz organize meetups. Rogers and Darby parks feature decent ramps for park skaters, while a resident-led campaign is petitioning the city for a jam-friendly outdoor rink. In the meantime, CicLAvia collaborated with local skaters for an Open Street event in South L.A. on July 10 and will have another on Dec. 4, with plans for more in 2023.
More Info
A group of people roller skating in a line
(Jess Joho)

Junipero Beach

Long Beach Point of Interest
Jennifer Yonda of Skate Hunnies says it’s hard to find a bad spot in Long Beach — the “skate mecca” of Southern California — like nearby Houghton Skatepark. But Junipero Beach is a central hub for casual cruising down Long Beach Shoreline Village’s bike path or meetups with Sk8_Friends and Sk8_n_Meet_Santana. The relocated return of Roxy’s Backyard Sk8 Boogie is one of SoCal’s most uplifting skate parties too, showcasing the resilience of L.A.’s generations-old roller-dance scene. “I call it the Reading Rainbow, because it’s all nationalities, all different genres of skaters — all in one,” says Raquel “Roxy” Young, a third-generation skater turned community organizer.
More Info