If you are a fan of “Blow” by Beyonce or “I Heart You” by Toni Braxton, then you will remember iconic skating scenes in the MVs. Do you know what type of skating this is?
It is jam skating! A style of skating where you “jam” to music. Skaters wear jam skates instead of regular quads to do it.
But there is more to know about what is jam skating. So, keep reading to find all the details!
Jam Skating 101
1. History & Origin
Jam skating goes way back to the second World War. However, no one knows for sure where jam skating originated. Most people believe that it began in California, Florida, and the Great Lakes region. As for the term itself, it is believed that the term was coined by Chris Gehret, founder of the Jamskate Association.
Jam skating evolved from traditional disco skating, also known as a roller disco, and along the way, picked up elements of gymnastics, artistic skating, and modern dancing. So, it is often described as dancing on roller skates.
Jam skating peaked in popularity in the 1990s and continued to remain quite popular. There are around 17 million jam skaters all over the world, despite jam skating’s humble beginning, resembling an underground movement with skaters in their early 20s.
Jam skating is a special type of skating that involves music. Essentially, skaters move to the music they are listening to as they skate, matching the beat and energy.
Jam skating can also be referred to as hexxing, rexing, shuffle skating, spot-skating, shadow-skating, toe-dancing, and boogie bouncing. Different names exist because there are different styles of jam skating.
Types of Jam Skating Styles
- Rexing/Shuffle Skating: This is skating with all wheels down or just one down along with the music. On a rink, skaters usually go counterclockwise when doing this type of jam skating. The key to rexing/shuffle skating is timing.
- Footwork: This stresses foot tricks like doing the 2-step, grapevine, crab walk, or crazy leg. Looking similar to break-dancing, this style’s jam skating moves are quite a sight on the rink.
- Power: This centers around acrobatic moves that rely on upper body endurance, strength, momentum, and speed. Examples include full-body spins and rotations, windmills, crickets, flares, jackhammers, turtles, and halos.
- Groundbreaking: As suggested in the name, this jam skating style is a mixture of moves done close to the ground, similar to breakdancing.
Jam skating is not like aggressive skating or speed skating. However, it can also be done as a sport, which is carried out alone or in teams.
Nowadays, there are plenty of jam skating competitions that skaters can take part in like the Love Bowl Open Jam, Classic Summer Jam, and Pajama Jam, to name a few.
Compared to other skating contests, these are generally more flexible. There are no rules across the board, and skaters are given a lot more space to exercise their creativity.
Are Jam Roller Skates Hard to Get Used to?
Jam skates are not that different from regular roller skates. So it will not be too tricky to get used to them. You just need to adjust to the fact that they do not come with laces or a high-boot design, which offers more flexibility but less structural support, particularly around the ankle.
Compared to rollerblades or inline skates, however, they provide more stability and ease balancing.
If you are completely new to skating, it can be difficult in the beginning. But rest assured that the learning curve is manageable. And if you are already comfortable on quads or inline skates, you should have no problem getting used to jam skates.
Is Jam Skating Difficult?
Jam skating videos make it look easy, but the truth is, you need to nail different skills before you can master jam skating. For example, you must know how to navigate edges, balance in a certain way, etc.
It all boils down to one thing: you need to be so comfortable on your skates so that you can freely “jam” to the music impromptu.
How to Jam Skate
Jam skating lessons are not as straightforward as roller skating or rollerblading ones, as individual creativity plays a larger role. It is more about each skater’s interpretation of beats and how they can express that with skate moves.
Nonetheless, there are jam skating courses that you can take to master it. You can find a lot of free tutorials on Youtube. Alternatively, you can invest a couple of bucks and learn in classes on Udemy and similar platforms.
We also recommend going online and doing a quick search with jam skating near me for in-person classes or clubs. You can be more hands-on with the process and meet new people who share the same love for jam skating!
It is best to start by getting proper gear, which includes your jam skates and safety wear. Warm up before you start moving in your skates, and practice on carpeted floors first. It is also necessary to know how to stop and fall.
Two basic steps that you should make sure to master are the Crab Walk and Toe Jam.
1. The Crab Walk
- Shape your feet into a V with your heels touching.
- Lift one heel and swing it to the side, transferring your weight to it as you do so.
- Lift the other heel and swing it inside so your V is inverted.
- Repeat the process to turn your V back to its original shape in the first step.
- Practice going both ways once you have got the hang of it.
2. The Toe Jam
- Get into a neutral position: knees bent and toes pointing outwards slightly.
- Glide one foot back and lift your heel, so you are balancing on just your toes.
- Return your foot to its original position and shift your balance to your other foot’s toes.
- Turn your toes and thighs outward when both your feet become aligned again.
- Glide the foot in the second step forward on all four wheels.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 with your other foot.
- Repeat the whole process to go back and forth in an S-like shape.
- Try moving faster once you are more comfortable with the move.
Jam Skating vs Rhythm Roller Skating
Jam skating is sometimes mistaken as rhythm roller skating because both have music involved. However, they are not the same. Unlike jam skating moves, rhythm skating moves are more old-school. The two’s skates are also different.
Now, you know all the essentials regarding “What is jam skating?” from its history, origin, and definition to the different styles and technical know-how. If anyone asks you about jam skating in the future, you can recount everything you have read here!
If you have any questions on this topic or other related thoughts to share, do not hesitate to reach out to us in the comments. We always like hearing from our readers.
Harrison is a skating enthusiast who picked up the sport during her student exchange years in Canada. She has been a skating coach for children and teens for 3 years and now holds classes as a freelancer. Harrison entwines her experience leading skating classes in the content published on Cora to help readers fall in love with skating, just like she did.