Photos by Ted Soqui
“Be running up that hill/ with no problems”
—Kate Bush, “Running Up That Hill”
Arms down your side or folded across your chest? Eyes closed or open? These
are about the hardest decisions you’ll have to make before you roll down a hill.
You do roll down hills, don’t you? Or haven’t you heard about the mad craze
for rolling down grassy slopes? Trust us — rolling down hills is the new krump
dancing. Can it be long before David LaChapelle starts lensing a documentary
that we predict will be called Phall?
Maybe it’s been since childhood when you last plunged your body down a green
bank. Come to think of it, maybe it’s been since childhood when you felt the
simple joys of mild dizziness brought on without chemicals. And maybe it’s been
that long since you’ve giggled, too.
There are physical and mental benefits to rolling down hills. First of all,
you can’t be sad when you’re rolling, and you’ll find that euphoria lasts for
Just as Kate Bush sings, you have to run up that hill in order to roll down.
No walking. When you run you give both body and mind a running start that accelerates
into the roll.
Harold Meyerson, Weekly political editor-at-large, recently found himself
at Will Rogers Park with friend Gina Neff, a UCSD professor of communications,
who suggested they roll down the embankment that borders the polo field. “She
had to convince me at first, but only for about 90 seconds,” he recalled. When
asked if he felt more like a 4-, 8- or 12-year-old, he didn’t need to think
long: “Eight.” We could barely shut Meyerson up on the subject, who went on
to show off his know-it-allness by sharing this: “Humorist Robert Benchley once
wrote that rolling down a hill snatching a mouthful of grass every roll can
cure the hiccups.” So that’s one more benefit.
is not a crime.
What makes a good roll-down hill? Few can agree on the degree of elevation that
makes the perfect slope. According to the experts we polled (people who roll
at least two times a month), here are some of the better sites in town. For
more extreme rolling, bring wax paper or cardboard. Remember to keep your mouth
closed. And beware of dog poop.
The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, next to the central
garden. This is the most immaculate hill in town with a perfect, gentle slope.
Please don’t roll into the lovely flowers.
Palisades Recreation Center, 851 Alma Real Drive, Pacific Palisades.
Here’s an easy hill next to the canyon that’s popular with local surfer kids
who wax their cardboard and hit the grass. Picnic tables, too.
All around Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu. Great
for groups; there are tons of hills to choose from. Afterward, you can hit Neptune’s
Net at the Ventura County line for post-rolling steamed shrimp and beer.
Debs Park, 4700 N. Griffin Ave., Los Angeles. Not for beginners, as there’s
some danger here due to steep hills and trees. The nearby Audubon Center is
great for birdwatchers.
Next to the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, 5801 Wilshire Blvd.,
Los Angeles. City-rolling at its finest. It’s a bit steep for beginners but
has a flat, safe landing. Many grown-ups have been seen reliving their childhoods
on their lunch break.
Will Rogers Park,1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades.
The short, steep embankment makes for a delightful thrill. Beware of polo matches
on the weekends.
Edward Vincent Park, formerly known as Centinela Park, corner
of Florence and Centinela, Inglewood. You may get the longest, gentlest roll
of your life at this huge park that’s practically all on an incline.
Santa Monica Beach greenway, near Neilson Way and Ashland Ave., on the
beach side. See and even smell the ocean!
Sand Dune Park, corner of Bell and 33rd, Manhattan Beach. Not a grassy
hill, but sometimes you need sand in your undies.
Bruin Walk on UCLA, central campus by Janss Steps, in between Kerckoff
Hall and Fowler Museum, Sunset Blvd. and Royce Dr., Westwood. It has three distinct
plateaus. Start at the fountain on the top, and end up either at the burrito
place, or at the foot of Janss. But beware of increased acceleration after the
third plateau. You’ll be rollin’ with the squirrels.
Rolling Down Hills
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I wear?Reebok makes thin waterproof pants, but real rollers live for grass stains.
How often should I roll?
In the beginning, no more than three hill-rolls twice a week.
Who are some famous hill-rollers?
Drew Barrymore, Pink, Juliette Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Dennis Quaid, Magic Johnson and the New York Dolls.
How many calories does rolling down hills burn?
If you run up the hill between rolls, you’ll burn half of an 8-ounce bagel every 10 rolls.
Is hill-rolling addictive?
Rolling down hills does produce a chemical in the brain similar to the endorphins that joggers experience, so someone who is rolling more than six hours a day may need to seek counseling.
Should I talk or sing while rolling?