Derby Rag-Doll

moonliterink.jpgI hadn’t been upright on skates since the ’80s, when me and my Walkman would head to the cement schoolyard in Wrigleyville and give the LL Cool J tape a workout. And, no, I never got good at it, okay?

So I wasn’t even planning on renting skates for my friend’s birthday gathering at the Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale last night. I thought I’d just make like all the b.la cats who are into roller derby and, you know, like…watch.

But The BF decided he was getting skates and hell, I wasn’t gonna weinie out. So I strapped on my size 8’s and hit the rink for an all-skate.

What I didn’t realize was that this was “Savoy Night” at the Moonlight–or, more specifically, I didn’t understand its significance. Apparently, Savoy Night is the one night a week when: (a) they spin exclusively R&B and almost exclusively R&B of the old-school variety (yay!); (b) the minimum years of skating under one’s belt required for an all-skate is 20 (uh…wait a minute…): and skating backwards–fast, to the beat, in trios and up–is considered amateur night (yikes!).

On top of that, it was exceptionally crowded, even for Savoy Night. A few skaters told us that earlier that evening, a fight had broken out at World on Wheels over on Venice, so the crowd headed to the Moonlight. What no one told us was that newbies were supposed to stick to the center, or specifically, to the line demarking the center, frighteningly close to where the dancers did their fancy-twirly moves.

Of course, some of our fellow skaters let us know this subtly, by skating within millimeters of us at frighteningly high speeds. And eventually, someone yelled it at us and we caught on. But believe me, with this crowd, you weren’t safe even sticking to the center line. Not fun.

I can see how it could be fun, though, with a little practice. Most of the skaters there were amazing to watch–virtuosos on wheels. And this wasn’t a young crowd, either. While there were a handful of under-40somethings, fully half of the crowd was 50+, and fit enough to kick my ass with one hand tied behind their backs. That skating requires one to be in gooood shape, as well as agile and flexible. Which makes skating seem like pretty fun, cool exercise.

Some poking around the Moonlight’s website turned up a Tuesday class for n00bz–one hour, from 7-8pm, 9 bucks, including skate rental and admission to the 8-10:30 evening session afterwards. In addition to basics like starting and stopping (without pushing off from or hitting the wall, I’m guessing), they also teach you crossover turns and skating to the music, so maybe you won’t look like a total tool when the real skaters hit the rink.

Has anyone out there learned to skate as a fully-grown up human, particularly on the older side? Anything I should know (other than that falling hard on your coccyx hurts (a lot)?

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3 Replies to “Derby Rag-Doll”

  1. Forget that, it’s all about Xanadu….rollerskating is in the air, it seems. American Apparel is pushing the rollerdisco look, the Derby Dolls finally have a place to call home, and I just bought a pair of figure skates, and went to Tokyo Bowl to watch the Tough Cookies get stomped by the Fight Crew. It was awesome. And they’re looking for more victims, I mean competitors…I am so there. But first I want to get some practice in. My last pair of quad skates were the oh-so-trendy sneaker skates. Thanks for the dope on Moonlight.

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