Monday, January 31, 2011


Often cited as the Godfather of Roller Boogie, Bill Butler is seen as the man who gave funky soul skate dancing to the world when he pioneered Roller Disco at Brooklyn’s Empire Skate Rink. He co-authored the seminal Jammin’ published in 1979 (impossible to get a copy if you didn’t buy one in the 80′s). It was a ‘complete guide to roller disco and Butler’s Jammin technique’ in which Butler outlines moves and etiquette on the skate rink floor.

‘The Godfather’ has been skating for more than 40 years. He has seen Rhythm Skating go through many changes in that time, from the disco era of the 70′s to the jam skating era of today. His love and passion for the sport still has him enjoying skating well into his 70′s. He remained a strong part of the roller boogie underground even when the roller blading rose in popularity and quad skating was out of date in the eyes of mainstream America.

Even with rinks closing down across the U.S., more and more people still want to skate. The black skate scenes of Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit kept 8 wheel skate dancing alive, and remain strong albeit relatively invisible to outsiders. Young white Americans are gradually discarding their roller blades and returning to the art of rhythm skating in a form known as “Jam Skating”, a combination of rhythm skating and breakdancing to retro electro sounds (note: Jam Skating must not be confused with Bill Butler’s Jamming technique, but jam skating could not have existed without Butler’s jamming technique).

Butler was a driving force as part of the New York City roller skating activists Good Skates International. The company was conceived by fitness and roller skating fanatic Judy Lynn, who believed that lack of places to skate in New York city was a true crime. Inspired by the hugely popular skate scene in Brooklyn’s Empire Roller Rink, and the outdoor roller skating at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, Judy Lynn was determined to get New Yorkers healthy and happy through roller skating in Central Park. As a result, Good Skates pioneered an outdoor skating revolution when they set up a roller skate shop, skate hire and outdoor skate parties in the middle of Central Park in 1977. The area is still a popular spot for roller skaters today.

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