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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA graduate, self-taught roller skater rolls out all-level classes

Susan “Zohan” Barnett hosts a Halloween themed skate class on Monday, Oct. 30, at Floor Polish Dance and Fitness. (Courtesy of Susan Barnett)

If Susan “Zohan” Barnett behaved well in church as a child, she was allowed to go rollerblading at Tucson’s Skate Country as a reward for her composure. 

At the age of 18, she took her skating hobby into her own hands, attending Thursday 18+ skate nights or skating on her local basketball court after work. 

Coping with loneliness and the pressures of school, it became her escape.

“After skating for a year, I used my tax return to buy my first pair of Moxi Lollys,” Barnett said. 

Barnett didn’t want to copy and paste trending tricks, but instead put on her headphones and skated intuitively, developing her own unique style. On that basketball court where she found her groove, her wheelmarks are still etched into the cement, marking the beginning of her career as a skater. 

In June of 2023, the 23-year-old UA graduate student unintentionally threw herself into teaching a weekly class with Floor Polish Dance Studio, at 701 N. Main Ave., every Monday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Every week anywhere from 10-20 students pay $10 each to get training in stretching, alignment and balance, and to learn a combination of her grooves. 

Amongst a large group of women and girls, 59-year-old Jim Reese has been continuing his childhood hobby of roller skating in Barnett’s Monday night classes. 

“I watched Susan teach herself and friends to dance and excel over the years since being at the skate rink, so when she announced her classes I jumped at the chance,” Reese said. 

Barnett said that she’s grown comfortable over the last few months teaching, which has helped her fall into a natural leadership position within her community, helping plan skate meet-ups and publishing a monthly skate event calendar for folks in Tucson.

“Susan is always so patient and thorough when instructing the class through moves and giving individual feedback,” Reese said. 

Belen “Belensita” Ayon, 25, is a fellow skater stoking the skating culture in Tucson and is one of Barnett’s most frequent students. They met a year and a half ago after Ayon found her skating videos on Instagram. 

“We wanna take it farther than just being a hobby, we want to turn it into a career,” Ayon said. 

Ayon said she appreciated the time and individualized feedback Barnett put into her classes, making sure everyone understood each move. 

“In December I’m starting a newsletter where I’m going to feature a local skater, include a trick of the month, post the skate calendar and make a blog,” Barnett said, who wrote for the Arizona Daily Star. “I really want to make something out of it.”

Barnett’s classes were on pause in December while she restructured her classes — considering how quickly her students have learned and the various skill levels skaters roll in with.  

To sign up for a class visit her Instagram, @zohanlol, which has over 10,000 followers. 

El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

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