Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All Skate! Everyone out on the floor!

I've had a couple of old Michael Jackson songs on my mp3 player for at least a year now. Old, as in, when Michael Jackson was still black. And...normal-looking. And you couldn't see his brain by way of his nostrils. I've played "Can't Stop Till You Get Enough" and "Rock With You" over and over and haven't gotten sick of them yet.

I'm a crazy Google monkey, I will admit. If a thought occurs to me and there's no one around to hear it...or I get that "you are such a retard" look, I turn to my trusty Google. Really, you can Google just about anything. "What date did Hitler invade Poland?" "What's this lump behind my ear?" "Who was the tallest man?" "Why do zippered hoodies make your t-shirt choke you?" No dice on that last one, though if you're looking to fashion a Bigfoot costume, there's your search sentence.

The MJ songs were two of my favorites that I remembered dimly from my childhood days spent at the local roller rinks. During a club ride a month or so ago, I recalled the reason why I liked those songs and when I got home, I googled "roller skating music," because I might be missing more fantastic songs and, sure as I'm typing, playlists posted by other people triggered all kinds of recollections.

Roller skating is definitely a 2nd generation pastime on my mom's side of the family. I wouldn't be surprised if my grandparents were skaters, but I know for certain my mom and her sister spent most of their teenage years at a rink.

There were at least three rinks near us at the time. My favorite was Fireside in Schaumburg. It had a smooth wooden floor that had been urethaned within an inch of its life. It was bright, airy, high-ceilinged. The center area for "moves" was surrounded by a waist-high wall with maybe four openings to escape from. There was a "roller coaster" along the back wall if you were into working harder at cracking your skull open. And not a helmet to be seen. The floor was almost pillowy, I tell you. I know I spent time there with my cousins Beefcake and Heb, but I vaguely recall skating with my mom and aunt when the organist would play at the rink. Yes, an organist. Dig it.

It was a horrible, horrible day for me when I learned that Fireside was closing down. Now, I was going to be forced to go to, ugh...Coachlite. Dark, cramped, lumpy-ass concrete floor. Hated it. Until I ordered a "suicide" (every flavor of soda from the fountain in one cup). And 4-foot long red licorice ropes, capable of leaving welts. Sometimes you'd eat them too. Or...OR! You could use the red licorice as a straw and SIP your suicide with it. Heaven. My hate relationship with Coachlite started to weaken after these discoveries. What final straw broke the hatin' back? Boys. Ah, hormones. From then after, Coachlite became THE place to flirt. Until I started drinking alcohol...then, surprise surprise, you could flirt ANYWHERE with the booze runnin' through you. But that was a little later down the road. You likely can't drink and'd spill your Pink Lady.

LOVED the front stopper. This is back in the day where dragging a skate actually slowed you down instead of sending you into a high-speed spin.

My dad had moved up to the Twin Cities near the twilight of my skating years. He hooked Brother and I up with a new-fangled invention that was big in Minnesota at the time and I KNOW Tom and I were the only two kids in the neighborhood if not the WORLD with these.

Yup. Those lace the whole way up.

Coachlite wouldn't let us bring them in. Hah.

Music? I put together a list of the most memorable for me.

"Situation" by Yaz
"I Wanna Rock With You" by Michael Jackson
"Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson
"Bad Girls" by Donna Summer
"You Dropped the Bomb on Me" by The Gap Band
"Freakazoid" by Midnight Star
"In My House" by The Mary Jane Girls
"Jam On It" by Newcleus
"It Takes Two" by Rob Base

Hopefully, this jogs the memories of Brother, Heb, Momma and Auntie and they'll share their thoughts, too.

I'm glad I decided to write up this post...I feel better's miserable outside and I'm fighting the urge to go fetal until Spring. Somebody find me a roller rink with a bar. Ooo! Camelbak!


  1. Actually your maternal grandparents met at a rink where Grandpa was a floor guard! If you look hard enough you just might find a rink. I think I saw one somewhere in Alabama. Personally, I consider the demise of the wood floor and organ music to be just as tragic as Uncle Mike leaving the Bears.

  2. I totally love this post!!! Heb's parents met at the rink as well. Oh, all the memories flooding back in like the rain outside, ugh.
    ALL of the songs you've listed are on my iPod, of course.
    More songs for the skating playlist:
    Knock on Wood-Ami Stewart
    Strawberry Letter 23-The Brothers Johnson (backwards skate)
    Ain't Nobody-Chaka Kahn
    Love's Train-Con Funk Shun (couples only)
    Your The One For Me-D Train
    Let It Whip-Dazz Band
    The Groove Line-Heat Wave
    Between The Sheets-Isley Brothers (couples only)
    Let's Go Dancin'-Kool & The Gang (backwards skate)
    Meeting in the Ladies Room-Klymaxx (ladies only)
    I could go on but I'm at work and tired of searching my iPod now.
    I worked snack bar at Coachlite, FYI. And, they now rent blades there and the kids looked at me funny with my old school skates when I went with Michelle's kids.
    Back in the day I removed my front toe stops (they were not cool) and only did the drag skate stop. Which I did try on my blades and scared the living s&^% out of myself.
    Grandpa Ratball was a competitve skater. I'd SO love to see video or pics of that now.
    Scramble: undefunt

  3. Dont tell anyone but I worked at Moulton's for a short stint when I first moved to the big EC...ah the days of grab assing and holding hands with your sweetheart while trying to maintain your balance atop two slippery worn out sets of plastic wheels...

    Yours Truly,