In my youth (nineteen fifties), Willow Beach roller skating rink was my regular Friday night destination. With my skates hung over my shoulder and fifty cents in my pocket, off I went for an evening of thrills.
The walk to the rink took only fifteen minutes. Never wanting to be late, I was in line with other early arrivals. We wanted to get our skates on before the first song was played.
Recorded organ music was ideal for skating. The link below is by Dave “Baby” Cortez and illustrates the tempo and sound needed to make those skate wheels sizzle.
All through the evening we would hear Ladies Only, Boys Only (rather like a train wreck set to organ music), Couples Only and a few slower songs to encourage graceful swooping strides.
We had one stand-out skater. Leon was several years older than the young preteen skaters who filled the floor. Everyone was in awe of Leon’s effortless and mistake free skating. He clearly enjoyed his stardom.
Things got somewhat competitive between the better boy skaters. Often the rink supervisor would call out to a particular skater to slow down before they caused a massive pile-up of the innocents. Failure to comply saw that skater having to take a seat for the next skating song.
Skaters who were less sure of themselves stayed along the walls and out of the way. While I was not glued to the walls, I must admit that my skating moves were constrained. For example, I skated backwards very poorly. In fact, I avoided many of the complex spinning moves made by some of my friends. Why risk embarrassing myself?
Finally, the announcement came: “Last Skate.” We took our skates off and, drenched in sweat, we walked home in the freezing winter cold. Next Friday night we would all be back again. Heck, I might even try to skate backwards.