Along vacant boardwalks, empty parking lots and the ghost town that is Times Square, roller skaters rule again. Google search interest for the retro footwear skyrocketed to a five-year high in early May — about the time lockdown doldrums also started peaking.
And if the movement had a mascot, it’d surely be actress Ana Coto. The 29-year-old went viral on TikTok for her infectiously fun videos, skating (often backward) through Southern California sunshine with positively immaculate vibes.
The swagger-filled social-distancing videos, now a certifiable trend on the video app, hit up to 31.2 million views each, with positive comments like “Do I wanna be her? Or do I wanna be with her?” and “Run me over you goddess.” The TikTok fame has turned her into a spiritual ring leader to a tribe of newly minted (and newly appreciated) quarantine roller bladers. It’s the hobby we never knew we needed, at a time we need it most.
Coto says she’s been trying to get friends to take up roller skating for years. When COVID-19 hit, they finally listened.
“Lots of those people are coming out of the woodwork like, ‘OK, you convinced me,’ ” the former dancer who now lives in Los Angeles tells The Post. “You can do it alone and have fun, and it’s exercise.”
In her most-viewed video, Coto wears an an all-white jumpsuit, matching sunglasses and a coronavirus mask — peeled off at just the right moment to reveal a steely glance.
Coto, best known for her role in the 2014 horror flick “Ouija,” says her TikTok fame has been aTove Lo’s 2018 indie film “Blue Lips.” Now, instead of going to auditions and callbacks, she’s scouting out pothole-free streets, and giving maneuvering tutorials to her expanded online fan base.
Now, countless TikTokers are posting their own quarantine skating endeavors — in varying degrees of gracefulness. Coto says she and other roller OGs are happy to see it, especially the ones wearing helmets and wrist guards. Let’s just say, the learning curve is steep.
It’s no coincidence Roller blading has taken off during the pandemic — biking has seen a similar revival, with long lines spilling out of shops in New York City.
And even though indoor rinks are off limits for now, there are plenty of open roads to practice on. Plus, it’s the kind of eye-catching activity that could be just the mood-booster a passer-by needs.
“Especially in quarantine, everyone’s feeling a little more aware of how important human connection is,” she says.
She and others have found that
“Your grandparents, parents, they all have history with it,” she says. “Lots of young people are seeing that it’s a connective thing now.”