Put All the Pop Stars on Skates

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

On Sunday evening, famous smooth guy Usher slid up to the Super Bowl stage, moonwalking to “Love in This Club” and raising the blood pressure of Alicia Keys’s husband. Normally, I am the type of person who lazily absorbs mass cultural events through other people’s tweets, so I nearly skipped the halftime show — until I found out that Mr. Raymond IV was whirling through “O.M.G.” on skates. Cap fitted backward, stunting in an Off-White sapphire muscle suit that outlined the pecs you know he already has, Usher busted out suave athletic maneuvers honed during his Vegas residency and nodded to the Black roller culture of his hometown, Atlanta. Seeing him slide through’s legs on mini-wheels was almost enough to make me forget the disappointing omission of that one line about “boobies” from the extravaganza.

Allow me to present a humble opinion: More pop stars — and entertainers in general — should roller skate. Sure, it’s no easy feat, and a fractured tailbone would be disastrous for a well-booked gentleman like, say, Jacob Elordi. (The extra inches would make him look freakish anyway.) As for the rest of them, what better hobbies do they have? Babbling on podcasts and peddling questionable grain-free dessert recipes? Commence with the wheeling! It’s whimsical. It’s clarifying. Imagine what a repertoire of regular gliding could do for someone like Selena Gomez — maybe she should spend her next loudly announced social-media break at the rink with her girls.

Usher skates regularly, and he’s always cheesing like he’s in a floss commercial. The fresh fits of his background dancers were co-designed with Liberty Ross of Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace, a Rockefeller Center throwback to her father’s iconic Hollywood rink, where Prince pranced in “silky little bikini underwear” and Nile Rodgers zoomed into the DJ booth directly from his home. The grand opening of Flipper’s in 2022 was a celebrity pile-up, with Usher (of course), Meek Mill, Patti Smith, Gayle King, and Ella Emhoff all queued in the same counterclockwise traffic. Just imagine how much more epic paparazzi photos would be if more famous people got in on the four-wheel game.

Everyone was sprinting to buy neon Impalas during the early pandemic, deluding themselves about their own agility under the spell of that one TikTok girl cruising down an L.A. boulevard to “Jenny from the Block.” But besides the in-line-skate scenes in Barbie and that Lana Del Rey music video of her gliding, in typical Lana fashion, past a tumbleweed, I haven’t seen much roller representation in mainstream culture lately. It makes you wonder where the Studio 54 revivalists have their heads at; for all the big, sequined disco homages we’ve seen, the main pop girls have been shy to strap up. Renaissance was tailor-made for a late-night spin — Beyoncé even celebrated her 41st with a roller-disco-themed birthday party — but you don’t see Blue Ivy onstage dusting off the “Blow” choreography. Dua Lipa could vanquish “go girl give us nothing” allegations once and for all with holographic quads and some nerve. As someone whose late-night YouTube searches always end up back at Jessica Simpson’s “A Public Affair” music video, I say: Celebrities, let’s roll.

Put All the Pop Stars on Skates