Rollerskating was such a part of growing up, that it simply behooves me to bring up this old chestnut once again. I wasn't quite old enough to enjoy the disco, except to see it on the big screen and splattered across the pop culture landscape. In its place, was a substitute for the younger generation: roller skating. It had its own culture, music, and "dance" as the disco.... except without the cocaine and consequence-free sex.
Skatetown U.S.A. with Maureen McCormick is easily the best skate movie. However, Roller Boogie starring Linda Blair and Xanadu follow closely behind. Other great Roller films:
The Unholy Rollers (1972) starring Claudia Jennings
Kansas City Bomber (1972) starring Raquel Welch
Rollerball (1975) starring James Caan
Rollerblade (1985) with Michelle Bauer
Shaggy D.A.(1976) had some roller action in it, but I can't count it. Heaven's Gate had an absolutely stupid 1800's roller scene. Good contemporary examples: Boogie Nights and Monster.
As I mentioned, the music was a big part of the roller skating experience. There's a few songs that instantly bring to mind memories of the roller rink:
- "Ladies Night" by Kool & the Gang
- "Open Arms" by Journey
- "Let It Whip" by The Dazz Band
- "Freeze Frame" by J. Geils Band
- "Give It Too Me Baby" by Rick James
- "Keep on Loving You" by REO Speedwagon
- "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb
- "Babe" by Styx
- "Heart of Glass" by Blondie
- "Lady" by The Little River Band
There's plenty more, but I'll stop here. Anyone out there have others?
Here's a list of songs I can think of about roller skating (although, sometimes as a metaphor). All are pre-1990's..... any more that should be added to the list?
- Brand New Key - Melanie
- You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd - Roger Miller
- Skateaway - Dire Straits
- Skating Away - Jethro Tull
- Roller Derby Queen - Jim Croce
- Bicycles, Roller Skates and You - The Archies
- Roller Rink - Trooper
- Roller Skating Child - Beach Boys
- Roller Skate Rag - Barbara Streisand
- You Can't Get to Heaven on Roller Skates - The Fabulous Nina and Frederik
- Roller Skating - INXS
- Roller Skate - Vaughan Mason
- Roller Skating on a Rainbow - Blue Barron and his Orchestra
- Roller Skatin' Mate - Peaches and Herb
- Queen of the Roller Derby - Leon Russell
- Roller Derby - Challengers
- Roller Star - Arabesque
- Roller Derby Star - Copperhead
Laverne & Shirley had a big roller skating episode "Take Two, They're Small" and there was a supremely cheesy roller skit on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour featuring Donny & Marie. And last but not least, there was an animated Addams Family episode which featured a roller derby in 1973.
Here's some covers of Skate magazine...
A few roller skating album covers...
And how can I talk about the roller skating craze without mentioning the fashions? The fact that it landed right during disco mania when style went buck wild, made for some interesting roller garb.
Those skates that were part of a normal tennis shoe were the worst. With no ankle support, things often got ugly. But then, nothing is worse than those skates you just buckled to your shoes..
And of course, waitresses on roller skates have become a symbol of the carefree teen life of the 1950's. Thankfully, in some parts it persisted into the 70's. Sorry folks, Sonic doesn't count.
Well, I suppose I could drone on about roller skates all day, but this post has to end sometime. So, it may as well end now. Peace out and keep on rollin'.