When Amy “Amz” Collado, an Afro-Dominican tenant organizer, started Butter Roll, she merely wanted to highlight 1970s roller disco. But as she’s grown and learned more about the roller skating world, she has built the social enterprise community into a space for healing. Butter Roll, as she explains, focuses on “the social/mental wellness of the Urban Diaspora through recreational roller skating & the arts.” This summer, Butter Roll will hold residency at LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park, and there she hopes to continue uplifting communities of color, especially those that are disenfranchised, have dealt with mass displacement, and more.
Butter Roll goes back to February 2009, but it wasn’t until 2015 that Amy started the Instagram account. In those early days, Butter Roll paid tribute to her favorite era, but about a year in, she began to shift the enterprise’s focus.
“I began moving away from the Roller Disco concept after a direct message convo on IG with a photographer and skater from the West Coast opened my eyes to real skate culture out there,” she tells Remezcla. “He broke down the underlying prejudices with Roller Discos and how they can be very exclusive to the thriving African American skate culture. From the on, I started to really think about what I wanted Butter Roll to represent.”
Now, if you scroll through Butter Roll’s Instagram account, you’ll see people that look like the community she grew up alongside in Brooklyn. And some days, you’ll see some positive affirmations from Amz herself. It’s vastly different from the roller skating photos she used to see on the internet – that is, West Coast-based white women skating on a boardwalk.
The summer series is an extension of what she’s already built. Unlike many roller skating events, Butter Roll’s events will not have a theme. Instead, the weekly gathering will be a welcoming space for people of color. Amy’s not the only one building community amongst skaters of color, but she is doing it her way.
“I’m excited I get to be part of something like this being brought to Lakeside: the energy and eagerness for it shows me I’ve been right all along when I said this is needed,” she adds. “People want more of this. It’s also a special time for us all right now, as we get to reclaim spaces to bring in our full selves.”
Part of setting the mood depends on the music played, and underground DJs will play it all: funk, Latin House, Deep House, Hip Hop, Funk, and more.
For years, Amy dreamed of starting her own roller rink, and at one point it didn’t feel possible, but with what she’s seen in the last few years, she’s begun to think differently.
“I just didn’t know if someone like me could ever do that or even where to get started,” she says. “But social media helped me get it out and so from there, it started to manifest IRL. I believe that rink is possible after 10 years.”
Butter Roll Last Thursdays at Lakeside Prospect Park will take place June 27, July 25, August 29, and September 19 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door, and $18 beforehand. Learn more here.