A Time Out na sua caixa de entrada

Mad Roller Disco
© Hugo SprangerMad Roller Disco

They see me rollin’ - the rolling dance fever in Lisbon

They run from the hills of Lisbon to the lowlands and infect those who see them with the same enthusiasm. We went to meet the people on skates and boards who make Lisbon a dance floor.

Joana Moreira
Escrito por
Joana Moreira

I just can't / I just can't / I just can't control my feet. The Jackson 5 verses blast out of a portable speaker on the ground at the Spanish Dock in Alcântara, energising a group of male and female skaters who roll around the asphalt on their coloured skates and in matching clothes. “It was mainly because of Covid,” says designer Elsa Campaoré, 28. “I watched a video about roller dancing and since I enjoy dancing...”. Also, “meeting people outside of work and starting relationships from scratch has been good after these two very solitary years.”

Mad Roller Dance
Ph: Mariana Valle LimaMad Roller Dance

It's the end of a Wednesday afternoon and the skaters move around freely, each at their own pace, before coming together when it is time for the choreography. Diana Ross, the queen of disco, is their cue: Upside down / Boy, you turn me. “I was wandering around Martim Moniz when I saw a really cool poster with a girl doing this [strikes a pose]. The poster said ‘sign up for roller dance classes’,” recalls Katarzyna Strauchmann, 29, a Polish financial analyst who has lived in Lisbon for five years. “Coming here helps me to relax. When I’m at work I don't feel like I'm in Portugal. I’m in an office and I could be anywhere. But at the end of the day, I feel like I am in Lisbon when I’m down here with my friends.”

The riverside setting, close to the 25 de Abril Bridge, was not chosen by accident. More than the view, the reason can be found on the ground: the pavement is smooth, and there’s a lot of it. The person responsible for the group’s panache on skates is 27-year-old Madalena Brandão Pereira, who you can find on Instagram @mad_rollerdance. This young woman from Torres Vedras has a background in figure skating, which she practised from the age of 7 to 18. As an adult, she took on the mission to take her skates out of the world of sports and on to the street. “Despite being depicted in the movies as being something associated with white women, the roots of roller disco can be found within the African-American community and its social segregation. I skated with the LA and San Francisco community and returned from the trip even more determined and certain that Lisbon needs this energy,” she tells Time Out, recalling that in other European cities, such as London, Paris and Amsterdam, “this culture already has a long history and is well-established.”Here, Madalena teaches roller dancing lessons to children and adults and organises weekly and monthly get-togethers that she announces on social media. On Mondays there is Roller Disco Night at Nada Temple, on Wednesdays the group meets at the Spanish Dock. This is confirmation that the pandemic increased interest in this pastime and that nowadays it is “a very multicultural, international and intergenerational community.”

Madalena Brandão Pereira
Ph: Mariana Valle LimaMadalena Brandão Pereira

And so there is no likelihood of its stopping (pro tip: four-wheel skates have a front brake, just point one foot down). “I hope that in Lisbon our impact keeps growing and that more sites for roller dancing will be created.” In 2021, Madalena’s proposal to the Lisbon Participatory Budget for “a new Roller Skate Circle site, an outdoor space dedicated to skaters, a safer flat space, because here in the Docks there are all kinds of activities” was approved. The city council’s website shows that the proposal, which has an estimated budget of €150,000, is in the review stage. 

You can also dance on a skateboard

“I was super-scared with wheel scenes, but it put this idea in my head.” 

The “this” is to finish the day on a longboard, which is longer than the classic skateboard. Beatriz Boavida, 23, has just finished another class. She tells Time Out that this is her fourth and she is getting better. Beatriz, from Lisbon, works as a consultant and spends her Saturday afternoon at the Lisbon Cruise Terminal. “First there is the ‘is the ground is moving?’ sensation, but after that it is incredible: there is a real feeling of freedom.”

A girl approaches and proudly describes how she built her new board by following a YouTube tutorial. From 6pm until dark, Giu Alfeo supervises all those who join in. This 28-year-old moved permanently from Germany to Portugal in November and since the beginning of the year has been the driving force behind the Dock Session Lisbon Instagram page. Alfeo teaches and publicises longboard dancing – and offers private lessons before the meetings. All sessions, which are free of charge, add an extra layer of difficulty: dance. “I'm trying to create a fusion between skating and dancing. The longboard dancing scene is still quite new,” says Alfeo. “My focus is to create a community here.” 

Giu always brings extra boards so that everyone can have a go, and welcomes anyone with a smile. “It's cool to create a comfortable and safe space for everyone, regardless of their age, gender or where they come from.”

Giu Alfeo
Ph: Mariana Valle LimaGiu Alfeo


Play hard

    Também poderá gostar
    Também poderá gostar