The Charm of the 1970s Roller Rink
Vintage Roller skates
Oh, how much fun it would be to travel back in time to the 70’s. The counterculture was an unsettling time in the United States for many reasons. There were many social, moral, economic and political changes taking place. For some, it was uneasy and scary, but at the same time is was a truly magical time as well. While much of this era is now associated with many of the things that hit the 6:00 o’clock news each night, the 70’s was so much more!
There was more to the 70’s than the controversial counterculture.
Social and political controversy aside, there were so many innocent pleasures that didn’t make the news. One that comes to mind is going roller skating on Saturday nights. Waiting in the long line outside of the roller rink, even if it was snowing, was part of the total experience.
In the cold weather, there would be hot chocolate available for sale while waiting in line. It was a blast to get there to find out who else would be there that night. It was one of the highlights of the week. If a girl was lucky, that guy that caught her eye last week might be there too.
Current music of the era was from music greats like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
Teenagers at the time, just like now, couldn’t get enough of their favorite artists including Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith just to name a few. All bets were off though at the roller rink. When the lights went down low and the sparkling disco ball shined on the wooden floor, tacky organ music was just fine!
After getting inside the roller rink, the next thing to do was to go stand in another line to get a pair of skates. Of course, to use a pair of skates that belong to the rink, you had to turn your own shoes in as place holders for the borrowed skates. You got your street shoes back only when the skates were returned. I can still see the wooden wheels and smell the disinfectant spray used on the skates between sessions.
“Free skate” time was awesome. Everyone would go around and around that floor. It was a time to show off your cool moves. The fancy skaters whizzed, by skating backwards, leaving you in their dust. The skaters with extraordinary skills would show off their abilities in the center of the rink. They were the ones that had their own skates and didn’t use the rented ones. Often, they would stroll into the rink with their skates hanging around their necks like a piece of jewelry.
70’s fashion was the perfect vehicle to showcase your individuality.
As with any activity associated with teens, fashion was a huge part of the deal. Jordache jeans, tie dyed knee socks and peasant blouses were just some of the fashions of the day. 70’s fashion offered so many different looks and possibilities. Styles included the hippie look complete with fringe. Casual and relaxed styles including graphic t-shirts and flowy clothing was a popular look. This is when our society had become convinced that t-shirts were just underwear anymore.
A person wasn’t required to be a track star to sport a track suit. It was a fashion statement!
Active wear was and continues to be popular. Back in the 70’s, however, track suits and one-piece jumpsuits were popular. The fabric was horrible, but it was the latest and greatest at the time. The drawback of the jumpsuit for a girl was that she had to almost completely disrobe to use the restroom. Women everywhere prayed that no one would accidentally push open the stall door when in public.
Mini-skirts and hot pants were considered glamour wear, but not at the roller rink.
The glamour look was also popular back in the day. This look was inspired by historic 1940’s styles and ranged from mini-skirts to maxi-skirts. The glamour look was popular, but it had its limitations. These outfits had to be carefully considered because it limited a person’s ability to do certain types of activities. A girl sure didn’t want to fall while roller skating while wearing a mini skirt!
70’s hairstyles sometimes made it hard to tell the boys from the girls.
Both boys and girls had long hair. Because of the long hair, it wasn’t uncommon to see a large Goody comb sticking out of almost every back pocket. If a guy wanted to get a girl’s attention, all he had to do was to snatch that comb out of her back pocket. Hopefully it would be well received, and she would spend the rest of the evening trying to get it back.
Young love often blossomed at the roller rink.
That circular, wooden floor was the beginning of many a young romance. Somehow, skating in circles had its charm. The activity itself was just an excuse to make the dating scene. The roller rink was a gathering place where a person could show up and show off or show up and blend in. The fact remains, however, that is was a great place to find that special someone; even if it was only until next week.
Skating, hand in hand, under the lights of the disco ball was magical.
Couples’ skate was the perfect opportunity to pair off and hold hands while skating in circles. Skating to that one song could be considered a mini date and would be the subject of conversation for the following week. There was just something about that musty smelling building with the lights down low, the twinkling lights of the mirrored disco ball bouncing off the concrete walls. It was so romantic!
By the end of the evening, the borrowed roller skates were sweaty and had caused at least one blister on the skater’s feet. That was just part of the deal. A person knew when they got there that they would get that blister. Hopefully, it would heal in time for the following weekend.
After taking off the roller skates and putting your own shoes back on, it took a few minutes to get your legs used to being off of the skates. It was a weird feeling being 2 inches shorter, although that’s how tall you were when you got there. It is something everyone should experience at least once.
The 70’s really were a time like no other.
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