On another sweltering day in Singapore, Daniel, a local rollerblader, skates between upturned plastic cups as his friends (from the left) Daryl, Swift and Mig (no pictured) look on. The wheels on Daniel’s rollerblades light up with his movements, catching the eye of a number of people who stop for a few moments to watch him. Neither Daniel nor his friends seem to notice their spectators, though if they do they’re certainly unphased by the attention.
I stood back and watched them for a few minutes as they swept across the reflective polished floor of the busy Nicoll Highway Esplanade Drive pedestrian underpass in downtown Singapore. The upturned plastic cups are set up in a row, spaced at specific distances to present challenges for the guys who make their difficult manoeuvres look easy.
They’ve been rollerblading for about 2 years ever since an early interest in ice skating caught their imaginations. Singapore has only 2 ice skating rinks, and while the chilled air must have been a welcome break from the city state’s often choking heat, the price tag of time at the rink wasn’t quite as cool. S$14 for 2 hours might not seem like a lot, but for the avid skater that adds up pretty quickly.
As we chat about rollerblading, a skateboarder is clattering around the same space, right under signs forbidding such activity. Oddly enough, rollerblading carries no such restrictions, which is why the guys have enjoyed skating here for about 2 years. “It’s free to skate here,” Daniel tells me. “It’s dry in here too,” a fact that he cares about after having broken his elbow while skating in the rain.