Introduction – Night Skates
Night skates are one of the biggest phenomena of the inline skating world. In fact, unlike festivals, tours, and marathons, night skates are really a creation of the skating world.
Night skates started in San Francisco in 1989. As expressed on the website of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association, “In 1989, the Loma-Preita earthquake severely damaged the Embarcadero Freeway. This double decked, elevated freeway was closed to all traffic while the city planners could decide what to do with it. Soon members of the Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol found an irresistible urge to skate on this newly discovered skater’s paradise. The roadway was hard, smooth concrete with long downhill sections that was a skater’s dream. There were no cars to run you over.”
Skaters started meeting there every Friday night and that was how it all started. Soon the concepts of night skates, and most often Friday Night Skates, spread to other US cities. Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC, Miami, Seattle and Minneapolis all developed night skates. The concept then spread to Europe, which has since taken it to new levels. Compared to the several hundred skaters that join night skates in the United States, Amsterdam gets 1000 each summer week. Paris gets 10,000-12,000. The unofficial world record was set in Berlin with something like 45,000 skaters!
Let’s put this into perspective. Those incredibly successful running marathons get upwards of 30,000 skaters – but only once a year. Some European night skates are now getting tens of thousands of skaters every week.
Are night skates safe? Much more so than you would ever expect. Organizers take pains to find good routes. Skating in a group of several hundred or even several dozen makes the skaters very visible to cards; in fact, they usually take over entire traffic lanes or, in the bigger skates, entire roads. Some of the biggest skates even get police escorts.
If you are traveling for business or just for fun and you will be in a city with a night skate, bring your skates! If you are interested to start a night skate in your city, see our page on starting a night skate. Below are a few of the world’s best night skates.
The Amsterdam Friday Night Skate gets from several hundred up to 1000 skaters on a good summer night. The route is flat and the group is well organized, making this a good skate for intermediate (rather than just advanced) skaters.
This Friday Night Skate is the successor to Blade Night Berlin and now gets from 1000 to 4000 skaters. The organizers treat this as a sort of protest in search of laws and conditions favorable to skaters in Berlin.
Frankfurt runs a Tuesday Night Skate that is extremely well organized and offers police coordination. The routes are from 33-42 kilometers long (marathon length) and so the skate is only for strong skaters.
This is now the Grande Dame of all Night Skates and gets 10,000 to 12,000 skaters on a good night. The start has moved back to the Gare Montparnasse. The website has an excellent history of the skate’s growth from a few dozen skaters.
My name is Anson Nakamura and I have been inline skating for fun for 18 years. My friends and I skate at our local skate park and we just love to skate. I have been a big fan of the sport since I was a little kid. I started with a pair of Rollerblades that I got from a garage sale. I was terrible at first, but I kept at it and eventually I got pretty good. Now, I can do all sorts of tricks and I love skating more than ever. There's nothing quite like the feeling of cruising around on your skates, wind in your hair. f you've never tried skating, I urge you to give it a go. It's an incredible feeling and you might just get hooked like I did.