Do you feel like being loaded into a cannon and shot back into 1977? Well, if so, here's what you do. You get a bit stoned and go over to World On Wheels for the Space is the Place Roller Disco Party.
How do I know? It's exactly what I did a month ago. I can't say I'd ever return because to be quite frank, I don't really want to go back to 1977 that badly but my eyes and ears perked up as soon as I got in line to enter this cavern of retro.
While inching forward to the cashier window to pay my $12 entrance fee, which includes skate rental, I was chatted up by an older guy with dinged up skates who claimed that all he does is skate backwards and look forward to helping out the unfortunate ones who are beginners. His skating buddies, slightly buff and slightly machismo and slightly Johnny Depp-esque, nodded at my lifted brow; yes, he does skate backwards and has been doing that for years.
As we neared the cashier window, I was mesmerized, (no doubt the pot was kicking in), by the signage and decor that seemed like it hadn't been upgraded since1977. It has that dank, florescent lit entry way, the ultra blue and red lettering, with advise about how to conduct yourself, pre-cell-phone era, and astral black planetary design carpet underfoot. The hand rails are sticky from most likely the too much handling of gumballs, jawbreakers and hot tamales. And there's even a skee ball machine! Walking past us was one of the DJs, a plainly dressed woman in jeans, white tennies and a pony lugging metal containers the size of LPs into the main hall.
First we got our skates. Make sure you don't just settle. If the laces are too short or your ankles feel like you're going to fall sideways, go back and demand a better pair. Maybe a pair dating from the 90s. And bring quarters for the lockers. The lockers themselves are a throwback and many are meant to be tugged on or manhandled to get them to open.
As we clunked over to them, I almost had my first fall back and slip. And I was still not on the rink. Holding tightly to the rails as we slid down into the rink's main entrance, I went gingerly onto to the rink to the tune of 'Let It Whip', sidling up to and clawing the carpeted wall, with the first 'rest area' in sight. And there are two, thank goodness. You can kind of bang right into them; they're carpeted too. And catch your breath.
Because it's probably been 30 years since I skated. And then I remembered the backwards skater saying it's important to bring the weight forward and keep your knees slightly bent. Off I went again onto the floor. Now it was the Village People. And there were the dudes, the one skating backwards, waving to me, and the others strutting their stuff. It was a bust out night for them.
And the apparently do this every weekend. I forgot how excellent one can get at this activity, doing the criss-cross with your feet or traversing the rink, the splits, the bent knee splits, the split second turn around. And these dudes were whipping by so fast, you could almost feel a breeze precede them. Me, being half blind and recovering from a back injury, clung to the side walls like a slow moving clam. I waved to the backwards dude. I thought of myself as kind of beyond help.
After about an hour of going round and round and listening to music that never ventured beyond the late 70s, I felt that I had a good enough work out, actually breaking a tiny sweat, and it was time to go. My friend and I decided to check out the bar upstairs on the way out; we heard they were having karaoke. So passing through an empty bowling alley that sits right on top of the roller rink, we entered the bar.
It was packed with people apparently straight off a party bus, decked in rainbow suspenders, short shorts, knee highs, and sweat bands. Mainly, though, they looked more like costumed Jewish pre-med students with their cute Asian girlfriends. On the side were the old-timers sitting dead pan and impervious to this cosmic funk and a few empty nesters 'older' women like myself, waiting for the chance to jump in on the vocals.
Maybe I was coming down off the high (which by the way was the first in many years), but I started to not be able to breath properly. I started to feel like the world had collapsed back on itself and was celebrating a bit too much about it. Those young kids were wearing 'my' clothes. I had lived that time. But it's no longer. Into the cool night air, I high tailed it to the car. A Prius, circa 2010. Okay, home.
But if you're up for the ride, time travel included, this is a night you won't forget anytime soon. Maybe dust off the Kork Ease or Famolares, find your old Dittos or Chemin de Fers (and squeeze back into them), use the curling iron on your hair. And let Earth Wind and Fire work their magic down on Pico and La Brea.
Space is the Place Roller Disco Party
Every 4th Saturday of the month as it has been for the past 10 years!
World On Wheels
4645 ½ Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
in the Midtown Lanes Shopping Center
DJs: Dennis(GoodFoot!) & Riley More (Shout!, BFD, Miss Kitty's)
Upstairs Dancefloor & 21+ BAR will be OPEN with
KARAOKE & bitchin' old-school Las Vegas themed decor
there is also a smoking patio downstairs!
admission includes Skate Rental; your own skates welcome
PARKING IS STILL FREE