Why Do Roller Skates Need A Key?

Roller skating has been a fun hobby for children and young adults for a long time. There are different types of roller skates available.

Many styles of skates have appeared over time. Have you ever wondered why some of those roller skates need a key? That odd piece of metal is probably more important than you think.

Why Do Roller Skates Need A Key

During the 60s and 70s, one style of roller skates was the most popular. These skates required a special key, which people would use to tighten the sole of the skates to fit your foot.

Because of this, almost every kid could use one pair of roller skates. The key made the ‘one-size-fits-all’ idea possible during that time, saving people a lot of money.

Since skating is an enjoyable activity among kids of all ages, there was a demand for it during that time.

The metal-key roller skates allowed parents to buy only a couple of pairs that could fit all of their children. The mechanism of it is quite interesting.

How Does The Key Work And Why Was It Popular?

The roller skates that people used in the 60s used the keys mainly as a fitting device. When somebody puts on the skates, a leather strap is there to adjust them.

But before that, you would need to fix the metal in the middle of the skate to fit. Here, you can use the key to tighten or loosen the fit to feel snug around your foot.

Roller Skates With Key

The key helped people out in various ways. For that time, it was an affordable and fun innovation. The best part is, it was a good buy for people of all economic classes at the time.

One Size Fits All

The main attraction of the steel skates and keys was their size. One standard size was available in the market.

So no one had to worry about a pair not fitting them. Since the keys adjusted the size, these skates with keys became a part of birthday and Christmas gifts for everybody.

This feature of the skates made them such a common hobby among people at the time. The key allowed people to have fun skating even if they were a group with different-sized feet.

A Feasible Hobby

Roller Skating was a household leisure activity. That is why no one wanted to miss out. Since the design of this steel key and skate combo was generic, it became affordable quickly.

A couple of pairs would last a long time. And, you could exchange yours with someone else’s with no worries.

Since the key made it all possible, the generation that enjoyed playtime in the 60s-70s has fond memories of skating. These roller skates have a special place in their hearts.

Roller Skates Keys

The key was such an important component of these skates that parents would make their kids wear them around their necks.

Once you lose your key, it will be hard to find a matching one. So the key had its own value because of its rarity.

How The Skate Keys Influenced Rollerskating?

It might sound surprising that roller skates have been around since the 1700s. But roller skates did not become popular until the mid-1800s.

At that time, skating went from a rare entertainment to a popular playtime activity. But key skates caused the biggest influence on the popularity of the activity itself.

Through the 1900s, roller skating was included in sports like hockey, derby, and its own type of sport. This was the time when the key skates entered the scene, making it even more common.

Its affordability and adjustable design caused this rise in popularity. The 1960s and 70s were called the “disco” era, where steel skates became a favorite.

Roller Skates History Of Key

The popularity of roller skates decreased a bit after that. But modern styles of skates kept coming. Recently, after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, its popularity rose again.

People have started looking for healthy ways to enjoy the outdoors alone. And rollerskating gave them the perfect opportunity to do that.

Roller skating is not uncommon any more. But, we can confidently say that the key skate period made it such a favorite activity for everyone.

The Cultural Importance Of Skate Keys

The steel rollerskates of the 60s rose to popularity in no time. As many from that generation say, it is a cherished memory of their childhoods.

The key of these roller skates inspired musicians, high school film enthusiasts, and art that everyone admires even today.

Artists have created important works that were personal to people in the disco era. These include songs, videos, and the general cultural wave that took place at that time.

In Music: Brand New Key by Melanie

“Brand New Key” is a song by American artist Melanie. As the name says, the song is about skate keys.

Melanie wrote the song, inspired by her childhood when she used to skate with her friends. The song uses the key and skates as symbols of love for a romantic interest during a girl’s teenage years.

Roller Skates Needed Key

This song has inspired other pieces of art since then. So it became a cultural symbol using the beloved key skates of the disco era.

The Rise Of A Household Sport

The generation of the 60s and 70s lived their youth through these key skates.

Neighborhood competitions would keep the members engaged in fun activities. Teenagers spent the weekend evenings rollerskating on these skates with their friends.

All of this made roller skating an informal sport in a way.

People still recall times from their childhood where the key was important. That is why it has risen to a high value in modern times.

Keys As Antique Pieces

The keys that people used for steel roller skates have started to become valuable antique pieces. The keys hold emotional value for a lot of the older generation of our time.

Therefore, it has become a valuable piece to own. You can find diverse collections of skate keys sold over the internet.

Roller Skates As Keys As Antique Pieces

People who used to collect skate keys as kids are now the proud owners of rare historical artifacts.

That is why a lot of the vintage keys sold everywhere have high prices. But the keys are expensive for a good reason.

How To Use Your Skate Key?

You have read a lot of the story about the skate key. But what if you wanted to use one yourself? Do not worry; it is much easier than you think. The first step would be to buy your own pair of steel roller skates.

Once you have acquired your pair of steel skates and the key, you can start assembling it. The skates will have their steel sole with a bridge in the middle.

Moreover, you will find a leather strap with a buckle. You can put on a pair of sneakers and wear steel skates over them. After putting them on, use the key at the bottom of the skate and rotate it till it is comfortable.

The key will adjust the bridge to the size of your foot. Then you can tie the leather strap around your ankle, and you are done!


The key to a pair of steel roller skates is their soul. It seems easy to be confused with the use of it now. But knowing about the history has surely made it clear why the skates need their key.

It is an essential part of the popular culture of the disco era. And thankfully, you can still buy a pair of steel skates to have the experience!

Hopefully, you have learned a bit about the use of keys on roller skates from this article. Now you can go out, skate, and learn about the culture around it. Happy learning!


Hi there, my name is Tom and I have been roller & inline skating since I was a little kid. Learning the sport at such an early age allowed to me gain a lot of experience and try different types of skates. It took me a lot of trial and error to learn some of the roller skating tricks so I decided to share my journey with you guys!

Recent Posts