I haven’t thought much about roller skating since the eighties. Did it make it past that decade? My kids certainly weren’t begging me to take them skating, but after a Friday night at the Roller Garden you can bet they are now.
Since a brief mention of Friday’s plans to them on Monday, the outing had totally slipped their minds. Friday can be hit or miss. Kids and mommy alike are usually pretty tired after a long week. We met some friends there – a friend of mine and her daughter-in-law to be. Once again, I gave ourselves a 1.5 hour time limit – at $8 a head ($5 to skates, $3 for the rentals), we needed to give the introduction to skating it’s due. I told them if they didn’t like it or wanted to sit out – that was fine. Mom was going to be regaining her skating legs.
We checked in and checked out skates. It was family skate night from 4:30-8:00 so the crowd was sympathetic to newbies and if someone rolled over your fingers after a fall, at least you had a good chance it was a lightweight. They also claimed the music would be clean, a genre I couldn’t wrap my head around – does that mean Wiggles or KooKooKangaroo? No, thankfully it ended up meaning top 40 from 1980 to 2011.
We laced up our skates which were comfortable for all but Ava. Stop complaining I told her. A half-hour later, she insisted that one of her skates was swapped with her brother’s skate, two sizes too small. She was right. Things improved dramatically for her from that moment on.
I grew up skating quite a bit. No rink for me has ever topped the Majestic in Arnolds Park, IA. Right on the lake, cool summer breezes would blow through while the pulse of the amusement park beat in the background. Bright lights. The close screams from the Legend rollercoaster’s track within inches of the rink (watch the video – it takes you right by the rink). Friday night dance music. Skating backward, in circles, even the limbo.
The Roller Garden, however, was really growing on me despite the implied cartoony and cheesy vibe of its website. It has a carpeted area level with the rink along one side where new skaters can do some testing. It also had a side area that was sectioned off so skaters could build confidence before hitting the big rink. At age 5, my son would have no part in that area. He began employing a skater-run technique. Ava, my 7-yr-old, more cautiously tested things out employing the glide and lean technique. Respective fall ratio: 8:1. Nobody complained though.
Between the upbeat music, blinding quick lighting changes and special effects (fog machine for Thriller), there were brief rest breaks and a pretzel to sustain them. They lasted 2.25 hours. It was stress-free. I go could at my own pace and keep an eye on both of them. If they were taking a break, I could also see that. After some speed-skating crossovers, we ended the night. A bit reluctantly for Ava, but much needed for Calvin, who looked like he was about to drop.
We headed over to Fireside pizza. They were absolutely giddy as we dished about skating styles, number of falls and upcoming birthday party planning. So as it turns out, roller skating is as cool now as it was then. Word of advice: Girls – don’t forget your wide-toothed pink comb for your back pocket as it’s still super fun for the boys to try to steal.