When I said to mother lamb I was going to a Rollerskating Rink – she laughed and said that was her hobby in the 80s. The 80s/ 90s saw rollerskating to be the cool activity. It was hip and the thing to do.
Roller City was the heart of Lakewood City, just outside Denver, up until the late 80s when the owner shut the doors for the last time after decades of being the beating pulse of socialising in the community. Roller City was the place that was the location for first dates and first kisses. It was more than a venue – it was a home. Friends were family. People met and grew up together in the rink. When it closed it become a thrift shop and broke the hearts of many. But now – fast forward 24 years its back in its original being. So let’s understand roller skating in terms of its leisure activity…
Me being Mr Bean on skates!
Some research has shown in the late 1930s rollerskating was on the increase and it boomed until the late 60s. In the late 70s rollerskating in some cultures became that popular it was suggested in some areas it was more popular than walking. Due to the “groovy 70s” rollerskating became a form of leisure entertainment that included music. The introduction of disco music allowed people to have a certain way of skating that brought groups of roller skaters together to enjoy a certain way of skating. Live music was introduced to Roller skating rinks and if you get booked for any roller skating rink you made it. Cher was very popular in the roller skating rink scene.
When the “trend” started fading out it didn’t in black culture. America noted an increase in certain types of roller skating. This caused an increase in demand in some areas but as the late 90s approach – across the board – the roller skating rinks started to disappear. But now due to trend in “bringing back some certain cultures” – like vinyls over digital and people wanting to become “fashionable” roller skating is back. In Denver alone they boast 850 miles of pavements suitable for roller blading. Now, it’s not just for dancing, socialising and taking your first date to fall literally for you- it’s for getting to work and commuting.
In Roller City the doors are well and truly opened to create new families and generations to enjoy the activity. I met Bry. An energetic man who has a vision. He skated in this rink and worked here as a teenager. He grew up enjoying roller skating and for years he wanted to bring it back. Within 4 minutes of speaking I knew this was not only a business – it was his life and his calling. He had the chance to take this factory shaped building back and get it back to its heart and soul. We met at 5pm on a Wednesday evening after I had reached out a few months back. The rink was opening at 7pm and really I was only staying for an hour until 6pm – but instead I stayed for 4 hours. I watched what Bry had brought back to the community.
A heartbeat. People were in with headphones in and dancing in there own word. Escapism. Simply a method and way of forgetting about the daily chores. A lot of people had there bags and were just in. Laced up. And out skating. I loved watching it. People could come in for $10 and skate for as long as they wanted. I was in absolute awe. The other thing I loved was the family of staff. This wasn’t just a workplace this was home. Jason, Caleb and the rest of the squad we’re family. They greeted each other with a hug. They loved being in the rink – 6 of them weren’t even working that night but they were in – skating. Bry was brilliant explaining to me everything about what I was seeing.
I was seeing a venue that has so much potential. Apart from business it has the opportunity to bring community back to this place. So with my skates on I went on and tried to understand what this was all about. I got it. I understood it. And I loved it. Well done to Bry for bringing something special back – because without doubt on my whole adventure this venue was the best venue in terms of community and meaning that I have witnessed.
Well done Roller City – see you in 5 years…