Jam Roller Skates

As hard as it might be to believe, jam roller skates have nothing to do with what you put on your toast in the morning. Nor does it have anything to do with the front door of your house or a difficult situation you may find yourself stuck in.

Vanilla Junior Code Unisex Roller Skates
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Riedell 395 Unisex Roller Skate Boot
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Riedell 395 Unisex Roller Skate Boot


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Jam is a modernized skating style with its roots in disco skating involving a combination of gymnastics and modern dance performed on wheels. While it began in the 1990's and has had a variety of different names over the years, this form of artistic skating involves elements of the movements associated with break dancing and figure skating.

History of Jam Skating

By the 1990's, traditional roller disco was losing popularity. The big rage from the 1970's was fading fast and rinks were having trouble getting teens to come out on roller skates. But once the music industry embraced this new, free flowing style of individual expression in music videos, the concept of jam skating was firmly embedded in popular culture.

A few examples of videos featuring jam skating include, “I Heart You” by Toni Braxton, “Blow” by Beyoncé and “My Shoes” by Murphy Lee. Roller skates play a key role in the popularity of these videos (of course the star power of the performers may have had something to do with the success too.)

Many Different Names

Somewhat confusing to some observers are the variety of names associated with jam skating and jam skates. Some of these names include:

  1. Boogie Bouncing

  2. Crazy Leg

  3. Shadow Skating

  4. Shuffle Skating

  5. Spot Skating

  6. Toe Dancing

3 Key Parts to Jam Skates

1) The Boots

Low Top Boot

Originally, the combination of gymnastics and breakdancing with wheels meant that skaters were using high top boots to support the ankle in their jam skates. But that was soon to change.

As it turned out, the best skates to make these amazing moves had to have low top boots. Jam skates with low tops were better positioned to allow a greater freedom of movement and better execution with speed.

Traditionally, low tops were associated with speed skating. And while speed can be a part of jam skating, it is not the focus. Speed is used to set up fantastic moves involving the entire body.

2) Toe Stop

Toe Plug for Jam Skates

While toe stops are found on many roller skates (but not all skates), a quality jam skate will use something entirely different. Toe stops are the plastic or rubber, circular devices at the front of skates that is usually used to stop.

Since jam skates are expected to help execute all kinds of aggressive moves, toe stops simply get in the way with the momentum of the wheels being brought to a screaming halt. As a result, a toe plug is the replacement for a stop.

Simply removing stops is not the answer. Some dancing moves involve the skater getting up on (guess what) their toes and the metal at the front of the skates where the stop was inserted would immediately damage the floor of the rink.

A toe plug is the logical answer for jam skates. Since it is much smaller than the various styles of toe stops and is made of non-marking plastics, the skates actually will help enhance dance moves for those who have carefully practiced their wheel-based dance skills.

3) Wheels

Wheels for Jam Skates

While there is definitely some discussion around what kind of wheel makes the most sense for jam skates, the answer appears to lie in two variables: skill of the skater and surface on which the jam skates will be used.

The two aspects of wheels to pay attention to are the diameter and the softness of the different forms of wheels. This means that many different wheel models will work under different circumstances.

For instance, a softer, smaller wheel is easier to learn on but the grippy nature of a softer wheel ultimately gets in the way of tricks like spins. A larger, harder wheel is more difficult to use, but those with a higher ability level will find they can execute tougher tricks.

The surface where the jam skates will be used further expands the discussion. A harder wheel is usually better on indoor surfaces where the floor gives you the grip you need. Outdoor use usually calls for a softer wheel to help smooth out irregularities of the surface and to provide grip.

For this reason, many skaters will have a couple of different sets of wheels they can swap out as circumstances warrant. Have one softer set for outdoors and one harder set for indoors. Since wheels are not that expensive, this represents an attractive compromise for most roller skaters.

What About Colors?

You want blue? How about purple? Can I get green? Jam skates have limitless options for the colors of their wheels so get what you want!

Where Can I Learn to Jam?

Your local roller rink is a great place to find skilled teachers. For formal lessons, there will certainly be an additional fee, but beginners will especially benefit from learning the basics from someone who has "been there and done that."

YouTube has plenty of videos of pros and learners alike. The innovation demonstrated by some is nothing short of stunning and is a sign of a very healthy and popular activity.

Regardless of where and how you learn, it is absolutely critical to have protective gear to help prevent injury. Kids especially should wear a helmet and a full set of elbow and knee pads and wrist guards.

Jam Skates and More

Skates.com is pleased to offer a huge selection of ice skates and inline skates to go with your roller skates. Be sure to see our clearance page for amazing prices below our regular, already competitive prices.

If you have questions, please feel free to call our stellar group of customer service pros. This team is here to help you with every aspect of your purchase, and they are friendly too!