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Roller skating down memory lane

I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates. You’ve got a brand new key…

OK, maybe I don’t have brand new skates... yet. I took a trip down memory lane last night and visited a place I spent way too many Tuesday and Friday nights in as a tween: Skate World of Troy.

It’s the place that I hung out with friends and just hoped beyond hope that that boy, the one with the curly hair, would ask me to skate during the ‘couple’s only’ song. It didn’t happen much but when it did I’m sure it made my pink diary with the key lock.

But I loved roller skating! I even practiced with the speed skating team and learned a few of the tricky jumps.

Ever since we saw the Detroit Derby Girls last year, I’ve been itching to get back in the rink. Last night was the first time I strapped 8 wheels to my feet in over 20 years and you know what? I still love it.

Skate World looked exactly the same: shag carpeting, disco balls, and space invaders were all intact.

Yeah, I tried rollerblading when they first came out and it just wasn’t the same. It was… work. Exercise. Roller skating, on the other hand, is easy and fun. It’s joyful.

Go ahead; call me a dork, old fashioned, or just plain weird. I don’t care. It took me a few minutes to get my old groove back but once I did I felt like I could have skated all night to Lucky Star, YMCA, or some god-awful song by Eddie Rabbitt.

I learned a few things on my little roller skating outing:

  • My husband has never been roller skating. How do you marry a man and not know this very important bit of information? Apparently, it wasn’t that big in England.
  • Who would have thunk it but roller skating is still popular! I thought we were going to pull into the parking lot and see tumbleweeds. It was adult night at the rink and it was hopping! Young adults, senior citizens and everything in between, they were all skating their socks off.  I was flabbergasted.
  • Revisiting the activities that you loved when you were young not only lets you reminisce, it also makes you feel just like that kid you used to be. Seriously, I had a blast and felt a few years younger.

While I’ll definitely be doing this again, my husband said he’d rather go ice skating. And, for the record, he didn’t skate last night. For me, ice skating is one of those activities that was fun as a child but is painful as an adult. I’ll take the wheels over the blades any day.

As the cold weather heads into Detroit, it’s time to find those inside places to have fun and exercise. I think I’ve found mine.

Some of my friends skated at the old Ambassador rink, which is now Leon & Lulu’s, and others skated at Bonaventure. I’ll stick with Skate World as it holds all my youthful memories. Did you have a favorite roller rink in the Detroit area?

So, what did you love doing when you were young that you haven’t done since?


Photo credit: Flattop341 on Flickr.

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Reader Comments (11)

I can remember roller skating a few times at Ambassador, although I was never very good at it :lol:

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Thanks for goosing me to think of whooshing down a neighborhood park hill on a Flexible Flyer in the Inwood section of Upper Manhattan ... with my boys and my younger brother. No helmet, no goggles, no fear -- just whoops of joy.

Flash forward to similar winter fun on steep Adams Street alongside Booth Hall at Syracuse University, seated on a plastic dining hall tray instead of lying on a sled -- again whooping like the kid I still was.

Sometimes I get a similar jolt now while schussing in a tuck on skis, but you remind me there's not nearly enough whooping in my life anymore. Never too old for a sled, right?

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Stamm

We always went to 'The Rink' on Van Dyke in Shelby Twp.. Our school skating parties I would seldom skate but play Crystal Castles or the Star Wars video

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterToka313

Great post - brings back memories of junior high! We skated at the Rollerdrome on Warren Avenue in Detroit. Sadly, it burned down in the 90's. Long live the disco mirror ball!

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

Your post brought back fond memories of roller skating while I was a teenager. Every Monday night, my two best friends & me skated at the roller rink on Harper & 15 Mile in Clinton Twp. It was a blast, I'd to it again in a heartbeat!

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I grew up roller skating! My sister and I would go to Detroit Roller Wheels and Northland Skating Rink. We still go to Northland occasionally and like you said it is very much a crowded spot on the weekend.

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

Good stuff. I remember getting all decked out in my Saturday finest to go roller skating at the Roll-a-Rena in Midland. Working up the courage to ask that cute girl to skate. I could never get the skating backwards thing down. It reminds me that I need to introduce my daughter to the art of the skate!

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBilly

My junior high roller skating parties were held at the Ambassador in Clawson. When Mike Myer asked me to couples skate to Billy Squier my heart fell into my knee-socks. I wonder what today's kids do for the equivalent and am considering inviting my husband (who drove a Trans-Am back in the day) to hit the rink with me.

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Doherty

Wow! Looks like a lot of us enjoyed the roller rink in our day. I think it would make a great date night or group outing. Now I just need to get my hubby on skates.

Your stories reminded me of college in Milwaukee. As you can imagine, we had a number of snow days. We even had one during finals week which was fabulous! My freshman dorm housed many students from Guam who had never seen snow before. They were delighted!

Like you, we grabbed dining hall trays and slid down the hill behind Helfaer Theatre. Ah, good memories.

November 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Most near-westsiders grew up skating at Riverside Arena in Livonia, which just celebrated it's 70th anniversary. Going back with our kids brings back great memories. I've heard more than a few people comment that it "smells the same" (minus the cigarette smoke).

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Ah yes... The Rink in Shelby Twp. I used to live not much more than 2 miles from there. About 10-20 years go, I think that was where everyone had their birthday party if you were an early teen or younger. Major Magics was another good one. Roller Skating was actually a little more fun I think. Roller Derby has been growing again for years due to the recent advancements in skates, new movies, and just the cycle of life... Roll On!

December 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

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