“You should know me” is an ongoing column that is intended to introduce accomplished Bay Area artists and entertainers to the mainstream media. I have the pleasure of introducing you to Richard Humphrey. If you have ever seen a roller-skating routine that had eye-catching flair and rhythm, there is a high probability that you can credit Richard. Since Covid-19, we have seen social media explode with these fantastic routines and more people skating outdoors. Richard’s imprint on roller-skating can be seen throughout the world. So why don’t we know Richard Humphrey? Too often, the general public’s knee-jerk reaction is to assume that some personal issue has prevented superstardom. I presented some of these questions to “The King” and requested nothing but the uncut truth.
HOW ARE YOU QUALIFIED TO BE TERMED THE KING OF ROLLERDANCE?
Richard asserts that he is the pioneer for teaching choreographed roller skating routines. He originated using VCR tapes to teach the foundational steps, which is now the skating blueprint for all the routines you see on wheels. The skating world has 4 Central Locations: Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Venice Beach, San Diego Beach, and Central Park in New York. You can travel to any of these locations and see the Humphrey blueprint in action. Richard has traveled throughout the United States, Germany, Brazil, and London to teach Rollerdance. Richard appeared in the movie “Roll Bounce” and is widely known and respected on all the major skating scenes. At this point, I was uncertain if his King status was self-proclaimed.
HAVE YOU BEEN ENDORSED AS THE KING BY THE MEDIA AND GENERAL PUBLIC?
Richard has been summoned to appear before thousands at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and performed as the opening acts for comedians Ronny Schell and Phyllis Diller. Kristi Yamaguchi, Gold Medalist Ice Skater, hired Richard to assist in her choreography. In 2006, Ebony magazine featured Richard, to which you can see Janet Jackson on the cover. Damon Wayans hired Richard to be a stunt double in the movie the Underground. In 2009, Reidell, a leading skate manufacturer, debuted the “No Strings Attached Humphrey Skate Boot.” It was the first skating boot with no laces. Also, Reidell released his signature wheel called “Golden Roller Bones.” You may have gotten a view of the No Strings Attached if you tuned into an episode of Dr. Oz, when Richard attempted to show Dr. Oz how to get down on skates.
HOW DID HIS SKATING JOURNEY BEGIN?
Richard was just a kid from Fillmore, San Francisco, who loved track, bowling, and sports. Richard was inspired by an article in Roller Skating magazine written in 1979 on Bill Butler, a New York Skating Pioneer. Also, credit is given to David Miles, San Francisco’s Godfather of Skate. Richard connected with DeWayne McDaniels and Wayne Evans and formed a group called the Golden Rollers. They perfected the “Alpha Kick,” splits on skates, which is known in the skating community as the “#1.” The Golden Rollers appeared on Real People, an Emmy nominated television show. He started skating 40 years ago and never stopped.
HOW CAN ROLLERDANCE BE MONOTIZED?
There have been attempts to bring Rollerdance to the mainstream. In 1978, Saul Zaents, producer of the Lord of the Rings, filmed Richard in a pilot series called Dancing Wheels. In 1999, Richard received a patent for “The Rollerdeck Plus Fitness Machine,” a self-contained portable floor for skaters on the go. Richard has a disdain for people that brand themselves as “certified instructors” and charge people for lessons. He expressed that some people have taken his VCR instructional videos, rebranded them, and changed the names of the moves. It is just the reality of capitalism. One of the major impediments to profit from skating is that you need to own a rink. You need to have an owner that embraces the skating community that provides the flare. Unfortunately, the lack of diversity in rink ownership limits the exposure and opportunities to grown this brand of skating. Richard opines that the owners simply don’t want “you people” to come to their rink. As such, he has moved his classes outside.
HOW CAN PEOPLE JOIN THE ROLLERDANCE FAMILY?
Every Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm, you can join 50-70 people of the Rollerdance Academy at San Lorenzo Community Park. Log onto www.rollerdance.com to stay current with the newest trends in skating. Check out his YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/aJjn) called the “Hook Up” to learn skating routines and get instructions. Instagram @richardhumphrey is also a great place to be part of the movement. I had the pleasure of joining a few classes and purchasing some custom skates from Richard. This is a person with a very soothing and charismatic spirit. Some people have a synergy that brings like-minded and spirited people together. It was a simple pleasure to meet Richard Humphrey, “The King of Rollerdance.”