17 May 2010

"Clams on the half shell and roller skates..."

A first for me yesterday as I played the music at a roller disco. This was interesting. I never knew that roller discos were still going strong, but evidently they are.

I know kids arse about on those sharp bladey things, of course, but they seem to be the preserve of shopping precincts at twilight rather than organised rinks, and these kids can do all sorts of turns and acrobatics as opposed to just careering with limited control in an anti-clockwise direction round a large bit of parquet floor.

This was a council event in a town centre square in Stockport, and the rink was an open air oblong owned and erected by a mobile roller disco company. Skating marshals with orange tabards and legwarmers were hired to guide the skaters around and pick up the (many) stumblers, and then I turned up with my CD wallet under instruction to play non-stop 70s and 80s.

Seven hours of it, and it was terrific fun. While I like to think my maturity threshold can be set to a reasonably high level most of the time, and my sense of humour is best triggered by highbrow acts or words, it is still really funny when somebody falls entirely arse over tit on a roller skating rink.

I essentially was watching a You've Been Framed DVD on repeat play, while offering Stockport town centre everything from the Hues Corporation to Rick Astley including, naturally, a certain song by Cliff Richard.

Roller discos, you may not immediately realise, are a measurement of how good a parent you are. Many a mum or dad took a small child on to the rink and therefore had to try to teach both the sprog and themselves to skate simultaneously. Some parents were less keen to learn, and stayed on their own sturdy soles while gently helping the be-wheeled kid round and round.

Cocky kids, especially lads, got their comeuppance. Some local wannabe jikes with branded shoulder bags and those horribly chunky exterior chains, had a go and just as they began to show off to their mates or girlfriends, would take an almighty tumble. The bruising suffered by their bottoms and elbows was nothing compared to that of their egos. I was being paid to laugh at them. And boy, did I laugh.

And it enlightened me as to how many people still roller skate as a pastime, with some expert skaters coming in from elsewhere in the north west just because the online roller fraternity had revealed that a free open air rink was being erected in Stockport. They turned up with their skates, did lap after lap after lap for hours on end, and then went home. One girl said she'd driven in from Burnley. A chap told me he had been skating in Ashton-under-Lyne for 30 years.

Naturally, I stayed well away. In Hull we had a roller rink called Blisters in the 1980s which I, along with every person of my generation, visited in the school holidays and at weekends. I actually remember very little about it, but a casual mention on Facebook of my weekend gig brought out loads of memories from old schoolpals about going along. Like a lot of people, I went only a handful of times, realised that paying good money to just fall over for two hours wasn't exactly value for money, and returned to kicking a ball instead. See also the fad for ice skating which hit the city when the ice arena was inaugurated in the late 80s.

So, seven hours of retro tunes while people lost their bearings, balance and dignity. The sun was out. People were smiling. There are worse ways to earn a living.

1 comment:

Jon Peake said...

We had a craze on going in about 1979. Whenever I hear I Will Survive, He's The Greatest Dancer or Heart Of Glass I think of that.

We loved it. Then went off it. Glad they're still going cos i remember it being enormous fun.