As a kid growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, we only had roller skates, not the new fangled roller blades. Wearing them always made me feel as tall as a tree (not that I was short) and super-strong. I loved skating around the court where I grew up in Howard Beach on the concrete sidewalk and in the parking area in the back of the court.
A little history: back in the 18th century, people were hip to the idea of attaching wheels to their feet to get around faster. The 1970’s were a cultural coming of age period for roller-skating; it’s when they became a significant part of American culture,pushed along by new technology and improved skating materials. As a result, wheels and skates became slicker and faster. Thousands of roller rinks opened across the United States, many adding a disco sound track with a disco ball sparkling from above. We’d rock out to K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Donna Summer, ABBA and more.
Today, there are no roller rinks in New York City that I know of. An article in today’s New York Times speaks about roller skating and the iconic rinks in Staten Island and New Jersey. Perhaps there is a bit of a resurgence in progress due to renewed interest in the 1970s; this is good news. The 1970s age of roller skating is well-captured in the film, Roll Bounce (2005) and in this outtake of Skatetown USA featuring Patrick Swayze.. I myself, would love to roller skate again; I tried roller blading, which is fun, but, to me, just doesn’t have the same appeal.