By Mira Tarabeine
When longtime Eagle Rock resident April Kibbe launched the Eagle Rock Sk8 Chix! Facebook page in November 2020, she wanted to overcome pandemic isolation by uniting female roller skaters. Kibbe says she knew from experience that “it was lonely” to skate solo “and fun to skate with someone else.”
The outreach worked. A core group began skating together daily in parks and parking lots around Los Angeles and since then — especially in recent weeks — Eagle Rock Sk8 Chix has grown, taking off in ways that seem destined to outlive the pandemic.
It’s easy to see why.
Skate chicks didn’t just find something to do, they found each other. “When I asked the universe, ‘What do I need?’ I saw something sparkly with a cape rolling around,” says skate chick Maria Diaz Goodman, an artist who lives in Eagle Rock, “It was April Kibbe.”
In addition to the camaraderie, skating with others is safer than skating alone because there’s someone there if a skater falls or gets hassled, says Kibbe.
Plus, the group is open to all kinds of skaters — young and old, experienced and novice — and all kinds of women: The group members include a nurse, set designers, teachers, musicians, students, mothers and daughters.
The result: Once you have a group of women, united by fun and fitness, meeting up regularly and communicating often, things start to happen.
As Kibbe puts it: “We don’t just skate, we collaborate.”
Older women in the group coach and mentor the younger skate chicks, says Diaz Goodman, describing the skate chick vibe as “very pro-female, safe, healthy.”
The women also look out for each other. “If there is a way to collaborate to help one of our sisters we do, because we all need help here and there,” says Kibbe, who is also known these days as “Ape Sk8.”
The help on offer extends to the broader community as well; the group has organized donation drives for unhoused neighbors and collected Easter baskets for cancer patients.
The skate chicks’ communal ethos is reflected in the matching t-shirts they wear while skating, printed with five emojis: an eagle, a rock, roller skates, a skateboard and a baby chick.
“I use emojis a lot,” says Kibbe, “So that is our logo, our brand. It is friendly to all ages. It is inviting.”
The challenge going forward is to find recreational space for skating once the pandemic is over. For the most part, the skate chicks have been skating in unused basketball courts, but those will begin to fill up soon.
“Everywhere you go, there are signs that say, ‘No roller skating,’ but a lot of people want to roller skate,” says Flor Chaidez, a resident of Eagle Rock, who joined skate chicks with her daughter. Chaidez and other skate chicks think and hope that space will become available for them. Meanwhile, they keep skating, talking and supporting one another and their neighbors.
“Everyone’s just so happy and peaceful, we need that,” says Kibbe, adding, “You can’t have a bad day when you’re skating.”
Mira Tarabeine, a junior at Occidental College, is a participant in the NELA Neighborhood Reporting Partnership, a collaboration between the Boulevard Sentinel and The Occidental campus newspaper.
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