skate odyssey


- Words Ashleigh Steel

There’s something about shoes on wheels that inspires even the toughest of cookies to skate down memory lane. “I love hearing people’s rollerskat­e stories,” says Andi Dextris, one-seventh of Melbourne performanc­e troupe Skate Odyssey. “Nearly everyone has one, and it’s usually steeped in joyous nostalgia.” Whether for a first kiss or a near miss, most of us have donned the skates at some point, but Andi and the rest of this colourful crew never left the rink. Skate Odyssey is a party on wheels, bringing rollerskat­es, ’70s disco bangers, kooky monikers and customised space-age costumes to a festival, album launch or music video near you. “It’s like a non-stop disco on skates with your best friends,” member Asphalt Bitumen says. A last-minute request for a birthday party flash mob was the impetus for the formation of the skate troupe in 2018. With only 10 days to prepare for their first gig, the gang managed to come up with an “intergalac­tic, neon-sequinned dream skate routine”. Five performanc­e offers came rolling in the following week, and Skate Odyssey has been trundling forward ever since.

With every performanc­e a unique offering – a mish-mash of choreograp­hy and freestyle movement – there’s no ‘typical’ Skate Odyssey show. The troupe criss-crosses between a variety of styles, incorporat­ing figurative dance, acrobatics, ramp work and bowlskatin­g into their routines – all while decked out in glitter, sequins and a whole lot of fluoro fringing. "It’s about working with the energy and vibing up the crowd,” Hayley Halo says. “We bust out different moves and sequences when the time is right.” In the past year, Skate Odyssey has graced a myriad of stages, including Mobile Disco at Piknic Électronik – an open-air electronic music event hosted by internatio­nal DJS Carl Cox and Eric Powell, where the group showed off their space-age roller disco party to a mere 12,000 punters. This is clearly more than a nostalgic hobby for the members of Skate Odyssey – rather, it’s a way of life. Most of the group grew up skating, and they've been known to rock up to gigs, festivals and parties on skates. “I'd prefer wheels to shoes if I could choose,” Andi admits. Skate Odyssey is all about nurturing a thriving rollerskat­e community by frequentin­g roller discos, jam-skating events and carving up the ramps at public skate parks. Once a month on a Friday night, the collective holds an open skate event at Evie’s Disco Diner in Melbourne, and Andi offers weekly skate classes – all in an attempt to get the rest of us back up on wheels. “Skating is both daring and wholesome," Andi says. “It's making a comeback at the moment, although it never really went away.” Ultimately, though, at the heart of Skate Odyssey is a commitment to creativity and a strong sense of family. “When we’re all together, it feels like home,” Citress Skate Mistress says. “Everyone in our gang brings years of creative experience, and that’s what keeps things spinning along.” The group also takes inspiratio­n from their community of fellow skaters – particular­ly the oldest skate crew in Australia, The Pacemakers, which features members up to 80 years old.

So, what’s next for Skate Odyssey? Soon they’ll be carving up the internatio­nal skate scene with performanc­es at Moxi Skate Camp in Long Beach, California, and Skate Love Barcelona, just to name a few. “The big dream is to have our own skate space in inner-city Melbourne, where we can hold skate events and festivals,” Andi says. “Just like Xanadu, but more street, and real.”

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