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Roller Rinks

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

  1. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain One Too Many

    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 A-List Customer

    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.
  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
  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.
    scottyrocks and Zombie_61 like this.

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