SAN FRANCISCO—Thirty-one years ago, David Miles Jr. and a group of friends went skating from the top of Golden Gate Avenue to downtown Market Street.
“We went down Market to Beal Street where there were barricades blocking off the Embarcadero Freeway onramp because of the Loma Prieta earthquake,” Miles Jr. told the San Francisco News. “Of course, we went through and found a roller-skating paradise.”
Miles Jr. said the experience was exciting. He and more friends began to meet there on Thursday nights. Calling themselves the San Francisco Friday Night Skates, the group changed the date to Fridays and the numbers began to grow. At its peak, SF Friday Night Skates had over 800 skaters each Friday.
Known as the ‘Godfather of skating,’ Miles Jr. met his wife Rose while skating in Golden Gate Park. They have been together for 41 years and have three children, Melanie, Tiffany and David III, all champion skaters. Over the years, the Miles family has been known as the First Family of Skating in San Francisco.
Miles Jr. has made many memories during his 41-years in San Francisco. “I think the most memorable was when the Discovery Channel took me and my family to Paris to skate the Paris Night Fever,” he explained. “We skated with 13,000 skaters through the streets of Paris, including the Champs-Elysees.”
In 2013, he stepped down as the leader of SF Friday Night Skate and founded the Church of 8 Wheels Roller Disco. It began as a one-night skate party in an old Catholic Church. The church closed and the owner gave Miles Jr. permission continue the spread of “Rolligion.”
Miles Jr. handed the skating kingdom to Lainie Monsef. The 64-year-old Louisville, KY native has lived in San Francisco for 43 years. Like others, Monsef met the skate community in the Golden Gate Park around 1990.
In an interview with the San Francisco News, Monsef explained it’s hard to describe the exhilaration of skating in San Francisco. “The joy of flying through the nighttime streets of our city is immense,” she said. “I have been totally addicted for the past 20 years.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic, Monsef said more people have been attracted to outdoor skating.
Ryo Sakai is a 42-year-old San Francisco native who decided to start skating again. The chef and owner of Kuma Sushi skated during his teen years, but decided to dust off his wheels after a 25-year hiatus.
“The skating community is amazing and I’m glad to come back to it,” Sakai said. “Whether you’re on quads, inline or a bike, enjoy and have fun.”