Saturday, November 15, 2014

Time For A Backward Skate ...

Talk about reeling in the years. My 11-year-old daughter ‘s school is hosting a roller skating party. That is not a typo. And no, you have not gone through a time warp back to 1984. An actual roller skating party. Not roller blading or ice skating, but that thing you usually only see nowadays when overly-tattooed women bash into each other in the aging female hipster version of men’s softball.

When I heard about this 6th grade roller skating party, the memories came rolling back.

Cool skates. No, that's not an oxymoron.
Ah, roller skating. If you grew up in the 80s, in Maryland, in the United States, on this planet, then you likely went roller skating a few times, at actual roller skating rinks.

“Dad? What’s a roller skating rink?”

Well, it’s like an ice skating rink without the ice. Instead of a hot chocolate stand and a Zamboni, they have bad pizza and an arcade. The music’s a little louder, the crowd a little edgier, and they have special skating intervals just for cool kids called “The Backward Skate.”

Growing up, my brothers and I went skating all the time. We’d beg our parents for a ride to the rink on a given Saturday, usually along with a few neighborhood friends. Then we’d get our bandanas for our back pockets, tie on the super cool, tan rented skates, and zoom around the rink at whet felt like lightning speed. Between 5th and 8th grade, we probably went skating once a month (a total exaggeration when I do the actual math). 

Going to the roller rink was our kid version of a social scene. Then, eventually, we got our own skates. When not at the rink, we’d skate in the unfinished basement, often to music and then with hockey sticks as we got older. As it turns out, my wife – who grew up in Pennsylvania – also skated a ton as a kid.  And they too would skate in the unfinished part of their basement. I imagine lots of 80s kids did the same.

I remember the music at the roller rink most of all. When the memories came flooding back, I immediately went to the internet and found “99 Red Balloons,” and “Electric Avenue”; my wife started singing “Calendar Girl.” (Clearly, I went to an edgier rink than she did).
Musical interlude:

The last skating party I remember was my freshman year of high school, which would make circa 1986. I don’t know what happened to roller skating after that. It just faded. Maybe it's still cool in some parts of the country. Maybe it was never cool.

Now, my daughter’s skating party is going be held at the gym, because roller rinks really don’t exist anymore (At least not around here). Most have been turned into parking lots, or housing developments, or … ice rinks.

But, I’m still glad to see roller skating make a comeback. Well, sort of a comeback. My daughter doesn’t want to go to the party because she said it’s too dorky.
Clearly I’ll have to teach her how to skate backwards.

If you roller skated growing up, share your memories. What songs do you remember skating to?



Larry said...

I definitely have some roller skating memories of my own. I can't say I loved skating but it was a place to hang out. I guess I wasn't a cool kid cause I couldn't go backwards.

Cort Ruddy said...

I could barely go backwards myself. I just remember clearing the rink for that and the couples skate.

Thanks, Larry, for reading.