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Roller Rinks

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by BlueTrain, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    Once upon a time many years ago, around ten o'clock at night, when I was about to leave an evening of folk dancing and go home, I happened to catch a radio program of organ music. It was the old WGMS station in Washington, DC, which disappeared from the air waves about ten years ago. After a piece of music, the DJ said it was so-and-so playing such-and-such on the Wurlitzer (the Mighty Wurlitzer) at the Alexandria Roller Rink, which by the way, is also history.

    I don't know that there's still a roller rink anywhere around here. They may have gone the way of drive-in movies in an urban/suburban setting like Northern Virginia. They may not be the cultural icons that bowling alleys are but somehow they seem to capture something of the 1950s the same as drive-in restaurants, meaning the kind with carhops and the little trays that hook onto the window in your car.

    Anyone still go roller skating or live near one? I've never been roller skating myself. There are, on the other hand, a few ice skating rinks around here, which for some reason, don't make me think of the same things. I imagine little girls with Olympic aspirations. But a roller rink makes me think of teenagers out to have fun before going by the drive-in on the way home. It's definitely a young person's thing.
     
  2. 3fingers

    3fingers Practically Family

    I grew up in a small town and our only form of entertainment was the skating rink. The movie theater had closed before my time. Most every town around here more than 300 people had a rink. Most are gone now. The large towns still have them (10,000 plus), but attendance is very low compared to my youth.
     
  3. GHT

    GHT My Mail is Forwarded Here

    From about the age of 12 until I was 16, I would go roller skating. There were two rinks in my neck of London back in the 1950's. So proficient did I become, that my Dad bought me a pair of professional roller skates fixed onto boots. Roller skating was not only a pleasurable pastime, it also kept me up to date with all the pop music of the day. Happy memories.

    There's many an anecdote I could bore you with but the best came 30 years after I had hung up my skates. My mother had passed away when I was nine, it was a painful time for my siblings and I, more so for our Dad.
    Remembering that, when a neighbour, and good friend, was killed in a road accident, I knew the pain his two teenage daughters of 13 & 16 were going through.

    The sad death of our friend happened in the early 1990's, a time when roller skating was having a brief renaissance in the UK. Speaking to the girl's mother and sharing with her and her daughters my experience of the loss of a parent, I asked if the girls were happy for me to take them roller skating. The young ladies seemed pleased with this, whilst their mother and my wife unbeknown of my mis-spent youth, thought that I would make a complete fool of myself by not only being the oldest skater there, by a long way, I was about 46 then, the average age at the rink was somewhere between 13 & 18, I would also land well and truly on my backside.

    At the skating rink I discovered that roller skates had now morphed into roller blades, an inline set of wheels akin to the blades on an ice skate. The two girls were delighted with this, their Dad had taken them ice skating a few times and they had more or less got the hang of it. However I was a tad concerned that my wife and the girl's mother's words would be prophetic, and I would indeed be flat on my backside within seconds. The assistant handed us our roller blades and while the girls were putting their's on, I went back and asked the assistant if they still had any roller skates with a wheel in each corner. "What size are you?" She asked, much to my surprise. "Ten," I said, hopefully. A pair of size ten was duly produced.

    The young girls were, by this time, wobbling around the rink, holding each other up, and giggling with the fun of it. For me, once up, it was like riding a bike, you never forget. A few minor wobbles and more than a few young teenage boys, deliberately colliding with me, but within a minute or two I was up to speed. Skating fast, I turned 180% and skated backwards just as fast, if not faster, than the young detractors who had tried to trip me over. Two older teenagers tried to unsettle me, but in my head I was 13 again, and as 13, I remembered that if you tap the heel of a skater it can have that skater's backside on the rink. It worked 30 years previously and it worked that day. We had a great time, the girls loved it, especially when we all held hands and I got them up to a good turn of speed. I taught them how to lift one leg over the other as we corner, so as to maintain speed, they even had a go at skating backwards.

    My detractors came over at the end of the session and asked if I used to be professional. "Some compliment," I said, but know, just like you youngsters, it was a mis-spent youth. The girl's mother and my missus were impressed too by all that the young ladies told them. What none of them did know though, apart from my previous experience, was that I ached in every joint for over a week. I might have felt 13 but my body knew differently.
     
    Edward likes this.
  4. Here in my hometown we had a sizeable indoor roller rink only a few miles from home called Skateland. After 51 years in business it closed in 2006 because the chemical company next door was causing so much air pollution that they contaminated the building. That's the official story, anyway. By then "roller" skating had become a niche pastime in this part of the world because inline skates had become so popular and people could skate almost anywhere they wanted to without having to pay an admittance fee, so I suspect a decline in business also led to the decision to close.

    In early-1980 a good friend called one afternoon to see if I was interested in going there with him. I thought it was a little odd because we had never even had a discussion about roller skating before that day, but for reasons that were unclear to me at the time he was surprisingly insistent that I go. I didn't know how to roller skate, but after half an hour of listening to him trying to convince me I agreed just to shut him up. As it turned out, he'd been going there for a few months and had "taken a shine" to a young lady he met there, and he wanted me to meet her and, later, share my opinion of her with him. He never got so much as a first date, but in the process of meeting her and the other people he'd met there I met the woman who would become my wife. We married in August of 1981, and 36 years later we're still going strong.

    And the skating skills I learned there came in very handy when I worked as a skater for a Los Angeles tool distributor, roller skating around their warehouse grabbing tools to fill their phone orders. Anyone here ever carry a floor jack down a flight of stairs while wearing roller skates? I have, several times. :cool:
     
  5. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Touted as the "World's Largest Indoor Roller Skating Rink", the Cleveland Rollercade was truly mammoth. A former equestrian hall, the building was converted into a roller rink in 1940. Roller skating took off in popularity during the War. By 1944 the Rollercade was drawing as many as 2400 patrons on an autumn evening. As the Sixties wore on, however, skating fell out of fashion. In 1968 it was demolished and a supermarket ( also long since demolished) was built on its site.

     
  6. 52Styleline

    52Styleline A-List Customer

    This one is still in business. I went skating there and in high school attended weekend dances there. Screenshot_6.png
     
    PeterGunnLives likes this.
  7. We had one here in Norther Kentucky, near Cincinnati, called Recca, in Alexandria KY. My kids had birthday parties there and we all skated. And discovered previously unused muscles the days after.
     
  8. PeterGunnLives

    PeterGunnLives One of the Regulars

    There are a few decent roller rinks in my area, but I think the oldest ones date back to the 1970s, not earlier. For a while I was going every week.
     
  9. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    I just realized that I've made several on-line purchases from a shop in Centralia, Washington, several blocks south of Maple Street. Small world, sort of.
     
  10. PeterGunnLives

    PeterGunnLives One of the Regulars

    I live about an hour from Centralia. There are nice antique stores around there.
     
  11. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    The shop I'm referring to handles forestry and logging supplies.
     
  12. The only roller rink I remember seeing is the one they run at Goodwood Revival every year. When I was eight to twelve or so, though, we used to spend part of Saturday mornings at the local community centre skating. Once a cinema, it reopened in our "town" of 3,500 in 1980 as a resourced for the community. On a Saturday, we paid 20p to spend a couple of hours skating in the large, open main room, which had a wonderfully smooth floor. They also still had a long slop in place of stairs down one side (from the cinema days) that was fun to run down on wheels. My brother had a pair of second hand skates then rollerboots; I had a pair of the old school rollerskates that you laced on over your shoes. Tempted to get a pair again. Little bro later got into rollerblades, but I never cared for them. I did iceskate about thirty years ago, and was pretty good at it again. Some of my students invited me to go skating with them in Hyde Park just before Christmas. With a gap of thirty years, it turned out my centre of gravity has shifted, not to mention that it turns out middle age has increased my fear of falling. That said, I had great fun, and I think with a few hours I could have improved again.... I wish I could find my old rollerskates now, they were great. I don't think you can buy the type any longer, just boots with the fixed shoe on them. We got more into skateboarding after that, though that was another animal altogether.
     
  13. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    When I was about 14 or so, I recall going to a roller rink with a big group of friends and family. This would have been in, or near, Hawthorne, California. It was a lot of fun... right down to the organ music and the barker: “ladies only” “couples only!” “All skate!”
     
  14. The area I grew up in had two roller rinks and an ice skating rink. The roller rinks were popular with youth groups and the occasional birthday party. But the ice rink was a bigger deal because there was less for us to in the winter months. Plus school was still in so you could meet your buddies there or if you were lucky enough you could meet a young lady there. The evening skate times usually ended with the lights turned low and a spotlight on the mirrored “disco ball” while a dance tune would play over the PA system. That is a nice memory for sure.


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  15. PeterGunnLives

    PeterGunnLives One of the Regulars

    I think the oldest roller rink in my general vicinity (that is, within 20 minutes drive) dates back to the 1970s; not my favorite era. Family night is fun, but a little too kid-oriented... whereas adult night is more comfortable but has music I really don't care for because of the explicit lyrics. I wish they could reach a happy medium.

    I might go on a day trip sometime to scope out older roller rinks, as there are a few from the '40s/'50s scattered throughout my state.
     
    Zombie_61 likes this.

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