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LA Skate Hunnies Creates Community And Connection — A Few Wheels At A Time

A diverse group of people in roller skates are stretched out on a lawn with palm trees behind them
LA Skate Hunnies founder and rollerblader, Jennifer Yonda (on the left) started the group after feeling isolated as an LA newcomer during the pandemic.
(Courtesy Jennifer Yonda)
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Under a cloudy Long Beach sky, funky electronic music pumped in the air amid a sea of helmets and pony tails. An array of people stretched, danced, pranced and jumped on the cold pavement — except there were no shoes to be seen.

Instead everyone donned rollerblades and roller skates for the LA Skate Hunnies meet up.

What began as a solo pursuit for its founder Jennifer Yonda has become a wider community of other lost souls in Los Angeles.

The 50 or so skaters and bladers meet up every Thursday in a different location to roll on roads, trails, and boardwalks. Themed gatherings like Goth Night and 90’s Cartoon Night keep each meetup exciting and eclectic.

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This night the skaters planned to stride along a coastal path in Long Beach.

“You guys ready to roll out?”, Yonda yelled over the music and chatter with her megaphone.

The crowd cheered enthusiastically in response. And then they were off!

LA Skate Hunnies: Humble Beginnings

After a short return to her hometown of Buffalo, New York in 2020 during the pandemic, Yonda returned to L.A. and strapped on her skates.

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“I was skating alone one day... And I was like, Where are my girls that I want? I want to have a group of girls to go out and skate with and we can go and get coffee and just live our lives on skates.”

She nervously created a Facebook event, scheduling the first L.A. Hunnies meetup in Santa Monica.

What started out as a group of five now averages about 50 people per meetup. The meetups range from casual rides in Culver City to intense trail skates in Yosemite National Park.

In a time of isolation and loneliness being cooped up at home, skating outside was one of the few ways people could socialize while being COVID-safe.

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“So people, more and more people started coming through the pandemic, I think, as a way to just have relief from their day to day and just kind of like get out of the COVID bubble,” she said.

This issue of isolation was a problem long before the pandemic. According to a 2018 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than a fifth of adults in the U.S. said they often or always felt lonely.

It’s especially an issue in Los Angeles with its vast landscape and car-centric atmosphere, making it difficult to connect with new people. As a result, the collective has come to represent a makeshift family for those who have felt lost in the sprawling metropolis.

One Big Family

Breanna Cruise has lived in Los Angeles for four and a half years. It wasn’t until she joined the LA Skate Hunnies that she felt like she finally found her people.

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Instagram reels of skaters gliding down streets during the pandemic introduced Cruise to the world of group skates.

I would see people on social media saying how many friends they're making in the skate community,” Cruise said. “And I was like, Wow, I'm kind of lonely. I want friends, too.”

Cruise soon found out about LASH after meeting Yonda at a protest skate.

So I just made myself go to the Skate Hunnies meet up by myself and everyone was really open and nice and then it was like such a rush of excitement. I came home and I was like, wow, that was like the best feeling ever.”

A roller skater in a helmet rolls up the side of a skate park playground.
After living in LA for four years, Bre Cruise found a community she could connect to once she joined LA Skate Hunnies.
(Courtesy @iilygraciie)

Justin Schachter felt that same rush of joy after his first meet. The aerospace engineer from Ann Arbor, Michigan had just moved to L.A. and was trying to break out of his engineering bubble.

Schachter made a solo trip to a LASH meet up and says he made an incredible amount of connections in just a few hours.

It can be really hard to find a group of people, a community. And whether it's your first time skating or even skating 10,000 times, like you can come here and have fun and everybody is just willing to make new friends, talk with you and teach you a thing or two.”

The familial nature shined through in the exuberant cheers at a landed trick down a flight of stairs or the care taken to ensure that no skater was left behind.

Two people in skates hug on a walkway at night.
“I feel like so many of my friends have come from running the group and like I've attracted such beautiful people into my life from setting my intention to do so and then also just holding the space every week” said Yonda about her chosen family.

It’s a big shift from two years ago, when Yonda was skating alone. With LA Skate Hunnies, she can be assured she’ll always have someone rolling by her side.

And now I have so many friends that I can go skating with and just feel very safe around,” Yonda said. “And I'm really grateful for that part of the journey.”

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