The High Priest of the Church of 8 Wheels : David Miles Jr.
DRAWN FROM THE CITY: Illustrations and Interviews of SF’s Best, first appeared in The Bold Italic in 2015 and ran through 2016. We at broke-assstuart.com liked them so much we asked Crystal if we could put them out again as a time capsule of SF’s creative scene during the height of the most recent tech boom and demographic change.
ILLUSTRATION & INTERVIEW
BY CRYSTAL VIELULA
David Miles Jr. has been rollerskating in Golden Gate Park since the seventies. He teaches rollerskate dancing every Sunday and runs the Church of 8 Wheels.
What is your occupation?
I’m a skater, when you get down to it that’s what I am.
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Why do you run the Sunday roller rink in Golden Gate Park?
I have been doing this for so long and its been great. I’ve been here for 35 years. I’ve only done it because I’m having fun. I love skating. We have a really super unique thing. You don’t have know any body, you don’t have to be in a certain age group or money group, you can be from anywhere. This is how I got into it. I just showed up here one day. This wouldn’t work in a different city; this is the happiest place you could be.
What is special about the roller skating community?
It’s a great, great community, you can leave something here on Sunday and it will be here the next Sunday. It’s about how you should treat your fellow man and how you should exist on the planet. If you look at this whole thing (the Sunday skate rink in Golden Gate Park) you don’t see an ad for any business. You don’t need all that. There are no cars, no gas, its away from the TV, your interacting with people, that’s probably the biggest part of it interaction with people. We are happy people.
What do you like about the Sunday Street Closure in the Park?
I invite all these people to come and use the streets for fun because it’s a playground when there are no cars.
What is your favorite neighborhood?
I see neighborhoods differently then most people because I skate through them. They are all kinda cool, I like Embarcadero, its great. I wanna have an outdoor roller rink there. You can create it so you can freeze it and have ice and then you can drain it and have it for roller skates. We skate in the union street parade and the Christmas parade, they welcome us. People treat us like we are celebrities.
I don’t know any places that I don’t like.
What is your Style inspiration?
I call myself a Long Rider. The Long Riders are the leggings, the long vest the arm bands, you have to work on the arms too, and the (cowboy)hat. I have seven of these hats.
I like the whole costuming thing. It all comes from burning man. At burning man people wear fur. It started with furry legging things. The only reason I went to Burning Man was because they have a roller rink. There’s no black people at Burning Man; there are 70,000 people at Burning Man and there might be 50 black people stretched out over the entire place. Its not designed that way but it just happened. A lot of people wear long furry coats but this is not a coat its not designed to close, it’s designed to be open for the quick draw. The idea is to be pimpin’ on the playa, we are so cool, we styling, we profiling, and we at Burning Man because we can do anything we want there you don’t even have to wear clothes.
Who is your designer?
Rose Miles, my wife I met here in Golden Gate Park June of ’79.
What brought you to San Francisco?
I was living in Kansas City, it was bad there and I came here to change my life. My third day here in San Francisco I heard about this (Golden Gate) park. I came out and saw it, I saw people go by on skates and I was like “wow I can do that.” Ever since then I’ve done Skate Patrol, LA skates, Burning Man, the church, and Friday Night Skate which is all around the world now. My family and I went to Paris for the Discovery Channel and there were 30,000 people doing Friday Night Skate. To them I’m the king of the world. It would be one thing if I was trying.
How did Friday Night Skate start?
When the 1989 earthquake hit we went up on the Embarcadero freeway and started skating. Every Thursday we would have meetings and then go skate. But then the Simpsons, In Living Color started on Thursday nights so we switched to Fridays and Friday night skate was born.