Monday, November 5, 2007

A Night At The Roller Rink

Yesterday I found myself back at the local roller rink, a strange kind of place, being so close to the train tracks and the Home Depot and really nothing else, except for one of those all nude strip clubs where, I hear, they don't serve booze, which is pretty dispiriting to contemplate.

I've never been a good skater of any kind. I never played hockey or learned to skate backwards. On the other hand, like every properly socialized little girl I insisted on being taken to the ice skating rink, and although it was in some regards disappointing -- there were so many goddamn people around moving so fast -- it also had its upsides. Including hot chocolate in those paper cups with playing cards printed on them. And that mind blowing moment when you took your skates off and your feet felt so light, as though you were walking on air.

And sometimes I would go to the roller rink, and they would play the hokey-pokey and YMCA and we were all very ironic about it because the heyday of the roller rink was clearly a long way gone, but it was still pretty fun.

I actually went to a birthday party at the particular roller rink I went to last night back sometime in the late 80's/early 90's, and felt a kind of vague heartburning during the couple skate.

So last night we got there too early first, and then we went and got dinner at this restaurant that we were just walking by that turned out to be an enormous tiki-themed steakhouse, and I vaguely wished I was not going roller skating after so that I could get a Mai Tai or a Chi Chi, which were the cocktails featured on the menu. I am not a good enough roller skater to think mixing booze and wheels is a good idea. The restaurant was in Glendale, and people were being kind of boisterous, and one table kept bursting into highly trained song, leading me to believe they were some kind of choir. According to the menus, the restaurant has been there since 1937.

When we went back to the roller rink, the parking lot was entirely full. We walked in and some guy outside smoking (in contravention of the signs all over the place which said no outs and ins) was talking about being locked up for 30 years, from 1978 to 2004. I don't know if it was what it sounded like. Sunday, anyway, is not just the over 21 night at the roller rink, but the Savoy night, which meant that they were mostly playing seventies soul music. The crowd was 95 percent black and 100 percent truly excellent skaters, and they had one segment where only groups of three or four were allowed out on the floor. It's funny, because every night I've gone to this roller rink it's been a different kind of thing. Tuesday is organ night, which is one far back recreation of a midwestern past, but then there's also the Debbie Gibson era recreated with blonde 13 year olds showing off.

Anyway, I skated around a few times, slowing down the traffic and people watching, and it was all pretty awesome. And between that and the restaurant you could say it was some kind of cutsifying, a deliberate chase of alien charm outside my experience, because my normal life does not include things tiki or roller skating all that much. But the thing is, watching the skaters go round and round was genuinely awesome, and, in fact, roller skating is genuinely awesome, and I really need to start going every night so that I no longer feel bad about getting in people's way when I'm skating.

1 comment:

Noko Marie said...

I also find roller rinks have a very complex atmosphere. It's nostalgia, but not really, because everyone there is into it for real, but then, it's also not a straightforward kind of 21st-century mania either.

I skated tons (both ice and roller) growing up, and when roller blades came around I got some. And blades are fun, I guess. But there's something lacking in the rollerblade eperience compared the regular skate one. Part of it has to do with maneuverability -- with those old skates you could turn on a dime. Blades it's just forward, forward, forward. It's not the same.