Since 2007, Kenny Dixon Jr, better known as the DJ and producer Moodymann has been hosting skate parties in Detroit. Dubbed “Soul Skate,” this biennial event is the pinnacle of parties for this burgeoning – but largely unknown – subculture of rollerskating fanatics. All year round, they travel the country attending similar but smaller parties. Dixon Jr, however, plays a low-key role — demurring to his Soul Skate team, who host the event and with whom he travels to skate. This one, he says, is about Detroit and those with a love of skating.
Earlier this summer, Carhartt WIP, Dazed and NTS travelled to Motor City to capture the sights and sounds of this raucous four day festival. Culminating in a Saturday night skate-marathon between 11pm and 5am, wheels whirred over the rink’s wooden boards, as it swarmed with skaters, each with their own idiosyncratic style, often related to where they’re from. (Skaters from Chicago, for example, snap their legs together in many of their moves, as part of their signature ‘JB style’ — a tribute to James Brown).
Skating plays a huge role in Detroit's cultural and political history
"Skating plays a huge role in Detroit's cultural and political history," writer Bwalya Newton notes for Dazed. "In 1950s and 60s Detroit, during what would have been the beginning moments of the cultural shift brought on by desegregation, roller-rink owners maintained racial divides by violently pushing 'Rhythm Nights' and 'Soul Nights' to African-Americans. Attendance was enforced by means of harassing and attacking the black populous if they showed up to other events. Through brute force, these nights came to be symptomatic of the style and culture of black popular music."
Directed by London-based filmmaker Ramone Anderson, Soul Skate 2018 takes you right to the heart of the rink and this vibrant subculture, as Dixon Jr, his team, and an assortment of like-minded crews, such as the Baltimore Low Riderz detail what Soul Skate and this culture means to them.