The Bearded Monk hosted Denton’s first outdoor Roll Out on Saturday evening. Skaters from all over Dallas/Fort Worth walked — and rolled — into the parking lot of the local bar to gather on wheels.
Printmaking intern and hairstylist Cassie Smith organized the event, hosting it in conjunction with Queer Sk8 Den10, a group that creates a welcoming space for LGBTQ skaters in the Denton area. She said roller skating gives her a sense of confidence and community that she has never had before.
“If you look into the history of skating in general … it’s already an alternative type of culture,” Smith said, appreciating that “misfits” can come together through the hobby. “We just want to be ourselves and express ourselves.”
Smith admitted to being nervous for the first roll out, hoping it was successful, so that the established Denton skate community could gain more exposure.
“If we can do more events like this in the future, we’ll make ourselves better known to the city council, and they might take us more seriously as far as building skate parks and things like that,” Smith said.
She emphasized the importance of having a roll out that was inclusive of everyone, no matter their gender, sexual identity, age, skin color or ability.
“There’s a certain type of freedom that comes from skating and it includes everybody,” Smith said. “We collectively define ourselves as skaters and that’s all that matters whenever you’re rolling. There shouldn’t be any separation there.”
Grace Otten, UNT senior and co-founder of Queer Sk8 Den10, said they wanted to work collaboratively with other skaters in the community. The event varied from the group’s typical meetups at skate parks.
“The point of Queer Sk8 Den10 is to find that inclusivity and that community and we wanted to have an event that would reflect that,” Otten said.
The first annual Denton Roll Out was held at The Bearded Monk where vendors set up tables with items for sell. The skating route started at The Bearded Monk and ended at the city park near City Hall. Image by Isabel Anes
Finding a better sense of community is what drew many of the roll out’s attendees to Denton that day as well.
“We’re from Fort Worth and there’s not a huge skating community over there,” roller skater Amanda Nava said of her hometown. “So, I’m just excited to meet new people.”
Hunter Chapa, a Rowlett resident and recent college graduate, had been skating for two months before they attended the roll out. They came with a friend they met on Instagram.
“This is my first time experiencing the skating community,” Chapa said as they laced up their scuffed, deep red roller skates. “What I’m hoping is that I’ll make new friends, be able to learn new skills with people and just have fun.”
Around 6:30 p.m., the group began to skate away from the bar toward a nearby park to the sound of Ludacris’ “Roll Out” blared over speakers. The route was lined with various flags representing the LGBTQ community and featured some of the beauty of Denton’s parks. Navigating it came with some challenges, including safely descending the small hill on which the event was being held. More experienced skaters helped those with less skill do what is known in the community as “bombing a hill.”
Common elements like gravel, sticks and even cracks in a sidewalk are obstacles roller skaters must actively avoid when skating outdoors. In the beginning of October, there was plenty debris like acorns, leaves and small rocks on the trail. One skater demonstrated for her friend how to step over rocks when she came to them.
Otten said they would have preferred for the route to be an easier loop. Though they did not regret taking the scenic route, they said they would keep challenges in mind for the future.
Though there were some falls, skaters were attentive and checked in on each other while rolling. Smith said it was an inevitable part of skating, but does not believe the fear of falling should deter people from trying it out, especially if they are only hesitant because of their age.
“Our bones mend and our bodies heal,” Smith said, “Age isn’t something that defines you. What you’re passionate about does.”
The evening ended with a session for people 21 and up, where participants enjoyed a free drink, a raffle, live music and shopping with local vendors. Alexis Martinez, a Denton native and owner of Lexi’s Rustic Cakes and Desserts, is a friend of Smith’s and was a featured vendor at the roll out.
“Initially I was going to make [Smith] congratulatory cupcakes because she’s my friend,” Martinez said. “But then she said ‘Well, why don’t you come and sell as a vendor?’”
The roll out was Martinez’s first time selling at a venue. She said she primarily sells by word of mouth and on Instagram, but with Smith’s help she was able to sell brownies, spiced pumpkin rum bread and vegan buckeyes, a treat she describes as the “hot older brother of a Reese’s cup” to hungry skaters.
Smith’s generosity shows how support in Denton’s skate community goes beyond those who roll around on eight wheels.
“We’re just all types of people coming together,” Smith said. “We realized we have a passion for skating and we just want to share that happiness with others.”
Featured Image: Participants of the first Denton Roll Out event gather together and pose for a group photo. Image by Isabel Anes