AMY COLLADO

 

Name: Amy Collado but my friends + fam call me Amz

Age you feel: 33

Where you grew up: Brooklyn, we moved a lot but mainly Williamsburg, Bushwick & East New York


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How has growing up in NYC shaped the person that you are?

Growing up in Old New York has made me into the street smart, perseverant person that I am today. Some would call that a hustler's spirit, which they would be right since I carry that spirit with me from my family who came here in the 1970s from Dominican Republic and made it the best way they could at that time. My experiences have helped me become more conscious of those that get left out of a lot of circles, conversations and opportunities. But also showed me what we can do on our own if we want it bad enough.

Can you share a little bit about your career?

I’m not sure when this happened but at some point as a young teen I decided I wanted to try my luck with as many things as possible. My true nature is to be an artist. I expressed myself early on through creating, and it is how my mother and I bonded during my formative years. I’m also an activist. That I didn’t learn about myself until later on in life, but it wasn’t much of a surprise since what I fight for now (for others) were things I experienced growing up - displacement, discrimination, things like that. My career spectrum has been broad and there were always things I wanted to do but didn’t have the courage to go for, which caused me to float a whole lot. My resume reads like this: secretary, bridal consultant, cashier, leasing agent, move in coordinator, art consultant, curator, film maker, artist, fashion designer, community organizer and now small business owner. Not to mention so many volunteer hours for various causes. Currently, I am a Tenant Organizer and my main objective is to teach tenants their housing rights. However, what really happens is that we get to nourish leaders in buildings and communities, developing skills like speaking to local and state officials to support tenants rights, leading meetings and most importantly build confidence in tenant power so that landlords don’t take advantage of them. It’s very emotionally heavy work, and so roller skating, for me, is meant to relieve us a bit. I’m constantly reminded of how privileged I am to hold a position like this, at the same time realizing that life is always coming full circle in showing and reminding me of my purpose— so like of course I’d be an organizer!

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You run an instagram account that highlights photos of NYC through out the 60s-90s , why have you focused on an older NYC and what do you hope people who come to your account walk away with?

One of my very first loves, other than looking at my mother’s designs, were family photos. I fell absolutely in love with my aunts wedding photos from 1978. The colors, clothing and even the way they looked in their youth was mesmerizing to me. Throughout the years, I looked at all my relatives photo albums, photos they kept in shoe boxes and even home videos when I could get my hands on some. There was always something so nostalgic about it that felt otherworldly. I know now that my imprint creatively has been with saudades which is a Portuguese word for deep emotional state of nostalgia or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. I could write a book on that last part, but for the sake of focusing on NY that’s what I hope people leave my page with when they visit— this bitter sweetness you get when you think about ‘back in the days’. A reminder of what you didn’t realize you were missing and almost a sadness for not appreciating it more because all things are fleeting - people, places and experiences. I focus on this time period because it feels like family. It’s the innocence of my loved ones, their dreams and aspirations are held there - before real life happened. A happier, more unified time. It’s my own escape but ironically it’s a reminder that I need to live in the now because my now will also be my future selves- saudade. If you type saudade in google it translates to ‘miss you’ and that’s how I feel because I do miss you Old New York.

The things you're pursuing all revolve around empowering people, where do you think that comes from?

I believe my fight is rooted in the injustices I’ve experienced first hand. Things like gentrification and mass incarceration have molded me to want to fight to empower POC to see their strengths, and to know that we don’t need to respond to the system as victims because we all have the power to make changes that will benefit and protect us. Being a kid with very little and having experienced violent evictions and homelessness, I am motivated on a different level than many of my peers within the social justice movement. As we speak people are waiting in line at Housing Court terrified about the roof over their head simply because a landlord wants to make a higher profit by moving newcomers in. Can you imagine that? Profit over people? Money over stability? That’s infuriating and I’m constantly thinking about these things. Mass incarceration affected inner city neighborhoods all over. Most of us grew up without dads (or moms), and we all know how damaging that is. Now these very same, rough and forgotten neighborhoods are being uprooted and we are being pushed out so that people that have no connection to these places can move in. My people need to know that they are valuable and not disposable.

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How did you discover roller skating and what made you fall in love with it?

I grew up in the 90s so the concept of skating was always a part of me. I loved listening to my family reminisce about the local rinks and how fun they were. But it wasn’t until 2009 that I fell in love with the idea of opening my own rink. It kind of came out of nowhere really. At the time I was in a toxic work + romantic relationship and roller skating became the light at the end of my dark tunnel. Not the act of it, as I’m not a skater but the creation of creating a space for others to skate. I thought about this concept of a studio 54 esque roller skating joint and immediately became obsessed because that didn’t exist back then. However with some research I discovered that it had existed at some point in the past. The Roxy and all the roller disco glory made me so hyped I had to bring it back. At the time, Empire Rollerdrome has just closed which sucked, but I’ve always been gifted with trend forecasting (not sure how but I’ve always been good at telling what’s next) and I knew that skating would become popular again. What I really fell in love with was this idea of creating new memories which goes right back to the nostalgia and saudades I talked about before. During a recent radio interview I said that I don’t see myself in the roller skating business, I see myself in the business of making memories. Everything I’ve ever done is based on or about memories, it’s where we hold events and people we consider precious. It’s where we live on forever.

Tell us about butter roll

Butter Roll is a social enterprise that focuses on the social and emotional wellness of the Urban Diaspora. A company that believes skating should, and will be, more accessible to communities of color locally and all over the world. The concept of Urban Diaspora (which I can proudly say I’ve coined) is about those of us whose identity is deeply rooted in the inner city, that didn’t grow up on the islands and everything about who we are and how we engage with the world comes from our urban upbringing. Leaning into the word Urban as a term of endearment because back in the day it was a bad thing to be labeled and yet we are living in a time where everything about us is trending with non POC, suburban and even middle America people. Skating is no different. Butter Rolls mission is to lead by example about reclaiming spaces for us that allow us to be ourselves and feel included. I’m a really big fan of Papi Juice, some good friends put me on to them (hey Cin and Jade!). I love their intentionality and transparency with who they’re creating and holding space for. QTPOC to the front, or Queen Trans People of Color to the front. Meaning that’s who the events are geared for. Like what?! We could prioritize our people like that... out loud? That blew my mind when I first heard of it, it’s what I’ve been yearning to do with Butter Roll for so long without being disrespectful to non POCs. At a time of heightened gentrification, we are all feeling more protective of the spaces that showcase our cultures, especially since our essence as a people is what makes our hoods so attractive, and realtors use it to bait newcomers into places they would have never visited much less lived in. Culture vultures are all around us. And so, my focus is on people that look like me, talk like me, grew up in the NY that I know and that feel out of place on their own blocks… they are my first priority when it comes to how I curate a Butter Roll event. It’s Public School to the front for anyone whose gone to a public school with a mix of backgrounds, ethnicities, and identities. Mental stability and getting physically active has such great effects on our bodies, and people deserve a healthy break from all the BS. As we continue to grow, I hope I can continue to highlight and uplift folx that see themselves in the brand. As for our summer season, Butter Roll’s Last Thursdays at Lakeside is the first open format, non- themed roller skate series at LeFrak. While others focus on themed events, BR is a reflection of who I am as a Black Dominican woman that grow up in Brooklyn, which I feel is far more relatable than throwing on a costume to skate. There’s just so much I can do by being myself— it’s thrilling. I’m privileged to have this type of opportunity which I worked my tail off on for years. The way that the music is curated I can confidently say that there is no skate party like a Butter Roll party.

Most people don't know how much work goes into creating a series like this , could you share three things you learned from this process?

Transparency helps build community and trust. Being flexible and not fixed on what success looks like allows you to see opportunities in a different light. And perseverance is everything you need to do whatever the hell you want to do! I got this series because I was consistent with growing Butter Rolls audience organically while being true to the mission. That consistency in my vision gave me the confidence to start a petition that got folx to sign and advocate for the series to be added to the rinks summer programming. By no means did I do this alone. As the oldest of 5, I struggled with being overprotective with Butter Roll thinking I needed to do everything myself but since opening up with my whole process, in real time, I can be that empowering example that anything is possible, you just have to keep it real and ask for help!

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What's your favorite song to roller skate to ?

I don’t have a favorite song to skate to, but I do have a song that always keeps me grounded in getting skate work done. Soul 4 Real - Every Little Thing I Do will always be my reminder, like no matter where I am or what I’m doing, it’s my reminder— like sis get to it! Your rink is waiting for you! Plus, it’s one of my favorite music videos so there’s that.

If you could have any guest DJ who would it be?

Oh wow, I’d have to say QuestLove. I’ve actually never been to a party of his but just because of his eternal love for Soul Train I know I can trust him with a rink. I guess I’ll also say DJ Arson, who I’ve been trying to get for this series all year long! He’s a DJ with heavy support by the underground skate community in NY, like they travel from all over the states for him. I got to hear him spin at a private TriBeCa event for the documentary United Skates so I know how dope he is. Fingers crossed we’ll meet formally one day!

If you could take this series to five cities which would they be?

I’ve got like two proposals sitting in my docs to do this lol … I’ve got my eye on Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Barcelona and Hong Kong. These all have great skate communities and crazy potential for growth. I left some of the more popular cities out like ATL and LA, but eventually I’d love a shot at bringing BR there as well.


Loved learning about Amy? You can find out all you need to know on her skating series at ButterRoll.Org + follow along on social media FB & IG: @ClubButterRoll — the next event is on Thursday August 29th!

All images by Bluntbreak